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02/20

It’s Time For Rush Limbaugh To Go

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Rush Limbaugh’s contract is up and it’s decision time – not only for Rush but for the industry which awakens to a 2016 where, for better or worse, Rush is the most famous name in radio.

And it’s time for Rush Limbaugh to go.

Now this is nothing personal. Rush has had an amazing symbiotic relationship with radio over the years he has been behind the mic, and for that a great many listeners, broadcasters, and clients are grateful.

And when Rush moves on, obscurity will not be the destination. Besides satellite radio (and perhaps in addition to it) there are businesses built around the challenge of turning a radio talent into a media platform (like this one, which will be onstage with me at hivio 2016). So no matter how things turn out, Rush will be able to put food on his table without running up the credit cards.

Where once Rush’s audience was in the money demo, it is no longer. Where once Rush’s audience was large it is now smaller. Where once Rush was on everyone’s lips and on the cover of TIME, we are reminded that that was in 1995, a year when most of today’s millennial generation were pre-teens and Facebook, Twitter, Google, iPhones, YouTube and more were dreams more than ten years from reality.

What does it mean that today, in 2016, Rush Limbaugh remains America’s most famous commercial radio voice?

I’ll tell you what it means.

It means Rush is bad for radio.

Not because of the occasional controversy which quite unfairly turns off agency dollars to most political talk shows. Not because of aging demographics alone. And certainly not because of any swings in the winds of politics. But rather because of this:

What does it say about an industry when its leading voice is 65, his average listener is probably likewise 65, and his peak appeal was anywhere from 10 to 20 years prior?

It says that industry had better wake up, that’s what it says.

Really, this piece is not about Rush. It’s about the industry which made him famous, the industry which has precious few stars with a national profile, and even fewer under the age of 65.

If radio ran TV, then Steve Allen would still be hosting the Tonight Show and there would still be a chimp on the Today Show.

Now none of this is Rush’s fault, to be sure. He’s hired to do a job, not to maintain relevance for radio among generations of listeners who can find no other stars there.

Where are the stars? If you work in radio, this is both no one’s fault and everyone’s fault. Your kids know more YouTube stars than radio stars. Is that good for radio’s future?

So it’s time for Rush to step aside, but more important, it’s time for radio to step up.

Radio’s only future requires new blood and new stars.

A future based on what makes radio special amid a storm of digital audio alternatives is a future built on talent. It’s a future built around stars.

Where are radio’s new stars?

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  • mzegan

    Headed toward satellite. He cannot command his past salary going forward.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Sure. Maybe. But that doesn’t solve radio’s problem, does it?

  • mzegan

    Millennials don’t even know the AM dial exists. Perhaps some young men, sports fans will be there, following their teams, but unfortunately l see little, if any.future for AM. I have been in the business 30 and l see a paradigm shift on the way…especially for talk and news radio.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Agreed. My point was about more than AM of course

    Mark Ramsey

  • Handyman Bob

    Seems to me when someone steps aside, he leaves a void. If there is nobody to fill the void, that’s not good for radio. The better solution is for a more talented person to displace Rush. I think even El Rushbo would say that was the way the free market is supposed to work.

  • http://timidsoul.wordpress.com/ Caspar Milquetoast

    Did you know Mark Levine had a contract renewal extended to 2025?

    Westwood One Announces Lifetime Extension for The Mark Levin Show
    http://www.marklevinshow.com/2016/02/11/westwood-one-announces-lifetime-extension-for-the-mark-levin-show/

  • John Mainelli

    The new model is Anthony Cumia’s and, if Limbaugh cares and bothers to, he could have massive success, considering all the Rush impersonators, wannabes and spin-offs on the planet. There’s no end (unfortunately, in most cases) to the conservative radio talkers who could join Rush on one or more Internet channels. Not to mention ambitious pundits, experts, political consultants, ex-pols, media hopefuls, etc. ETC.
    Anthony says he made more money when he was the only show on his channel two years ago ($59 annual sub fee, plus ad-supported) than he did on SiriusXM with Opie. Now he has four other heavily-multi-media TV/audio shows, including Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice and frequent Redeye and Greg Gutfeld Show guest on Fox. Anthony also provides a home, set and tech/production support for Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Startalk.” Six months ago he added a Manhattan studio with small-audience capabilities to his Long Island home studios.
    The site (anthonycumia.com) and its productions are remarkably glitch-free. The shows have pro production values and they’re packed with multi-media, instantly accessed at the mere drop of a thought.
    Interestingly, Mark Levin announced what appears to be a potentially similar project last week. His starting annual sub fee will be exactly the same as Ant’s, $59. Hmmm. IMO, Levin is talk radio’s very own Zika virus, only he gets transmitted by rabid vultures. Mere mosquitoes can’t carry that load.

  • John Calabro

    Provocative headline designed to get eyes on your “onstage with Red Seat Ventures at hivio 2016” promo. Well played.

  • adam garey

    With an appearing amazing appreciation of Radio by Music Artists seeing that as a pinnacle for their work and career one could imagine their desire in corporate effort to power Radio into this Century!

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Truthfully, that was not the intent of the piece, because a pitch for the guests would be much more direct and would have at least included the company’s name in the text! This was a relevant thread, so I included it :-). hivio is, essentially, a gift to the industry. And a test to see if the industry will say “thank you” to the gift.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Let me ask it this way… If you go into a supermarket and see only one product on the shelf, does that product need to be displaced to make room for more?

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Wow. I hope they have an option. Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm this ain’t.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    None of this is mutually exclusive to a radio show, though, John. Every radio brand worth his or her salt should go exactly this route along with a radio platform, just as Glenn Beck and Dave Ramsey have done.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    I always hold out hope, John. But there is plenty of reason to have none.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Jay, I think this is the first comment I’ve seen from you. Comment away! Other than living my life and not bird-dogging the moderation, I don’t censor any comment unless they are in some way profane or illegible.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Jay, I had to go into the moderation pane to find your comment. Your profanity evidently moved it to spam. Best to do without that in the future.

    If your point is that all N/T shows are the same, maybe so. That has been a theme in radio for some time. But this piece isn’t about N/T or even about Rush. It’s about an industry that ignores the infinite richness and variety of spoken word. NPR doesn’t do that, nor do podcasters. The content is all around us in the open air, but commercial radio is blind to it.

  • kdardis

    I’m not sure your article’s main point got through, Mark. :-)

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    To the right people, it did, Ken! :-) But I wrote it knowing that, of course.

  • Bradley Krantz

    From my 1992 review of his first book… “you must know that The Way Things Ought To Be is a huge No. 1 best seller, undoubtedly purchased by numerous Rush “dittoheads’ or those who have not a clue that Limbaugh may be the 1990s version of Father Coughlin, the radio hatemeister of the 1930s.”http://m.greensboro.com/a-big-fan-looks-at-the-big-guy-limbaugh-in/article_ee90b878-2da4-507c-b40c-8049e593e77a.html?mode=jqm

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Coughlin was a fascinating character. I once tried to find books about him but they were all so old…
    Not agreeing or disagreeing with your assessment, but I will tell you: Rush’s job is to amass an audience and he does it as well as anybody.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    What’s wrong is a medium that doesn’t invest in the future.

  • UnderMindControl

    Bitter former talk show host, Jay Diamond !!

  • UnderMindControl

    Alex Jones is the new model. Anthony Cumnia? He maybe has 200 subscribers lol…. Manilelli won’t say the name Alex Jones… Jones provesd their is a huge audience for right wing radio… The difference Jones is about conservativism, not being a “republican”

  • obadiahorthodox

    The only reason I even “listen” to Rush Libel is to be informed about how my crazy drunk uncle thinks. As far as I am concerned Mr. Libel panders to all the hate mongers in the right wing religious fanatics. The other reason is because Coast to Coast is on late nights. Other than that, I would never give him the time of day.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    Again, my piece was about the radio industry’s future, not about Rush’s politics.

  • John Jordan

    So the content doesn’t matter just the ear drums. If that is the only standard to measure Rusho’s impact then I hope Rush stays and takes a long, slow, embarrassingly, industry grinding crap-tastic, non-recoverable talk radio disaster.

  • http://www.markramseymedia.com Mark Ramsey

    No. The content only matters BECAUSE of the ear drums.

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello Everyone,
    The relationship between Tush Limpballs and radio is not symbiotic but parasitic The only reason that this pos is on the radio is the removal of the fairness doctrine! A great F**k You to ole 666 Ronald Wilson Reagan for one of your hellish accomplishments!!!!!!!!

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello Mark Ramsey,
    The same magical thinking that most company executives believe that you can destroy your company for personal gain and it will still continue forever! AKA the goose that lays the golden eggs even after it dies!

  • pingopigg

    beautiful piece…and good job of making it about radio, not Rush. I’m no fan of Rush, but your piece isn’t an attack on anything but poor management. Radio had no idea the internet would be the big thing when rush got famous…video didn’t kill the radio star…the world wide web did

  • pingopigg

    great insight. I wasn’t aware of anthonys new home, but I do love star talk its on Sirius xm too on the Insight channel

  • jay diamond

    Yer fulla crap and you don’t even have name.

  • UnderMindControl

    But I know who you are. Former WABC and WEVD host.. Jay diamond…..

  • Donald Drumpf What, Me Worry?

    this was before Ihearts going bankrupt.. how do you feel now?

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