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Two Factors Behind Rush's Enormous Success

Posted by libhom Friday, April 17, 2009

TV and radio critic Bill Mann has an excellent Huntington Post article which exposes a largely unknown practice that explains part of why Rush Limbaugh is syndicated in so many markets.

It's because -- ready for this? -- Rush's show was, and presumably still is, given away for free to many local radio stations.

This shocker is because of a little-known practice in broadcast syndication called a "barter deal." (Barter deals were briefly mentioned in Michael Wolff's first-rate recent piece on Rush in Vanity Fair).

Here's how a barter deal works: To launch the show, Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks -- the same folks who syndicate wingnut du jour Glen Beck -- gave Limbaugh's three hours away -- that's right, no cash -- to local radio stations, mostly in medium and smaller markets, back in the early 1990's.

So, a local talk station got Rush's show for zilch. In exchange, Premiere took for itself much of the local station's available advertising time (roughly 15 minutes an hour) and packed the show with national ads it had already pre-sold.

Think Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

It's a very sweet deal for local radio station owners, explained Bill Exline a respected radio broker (he helped people buy and sell local stations). "Not only does the local station get three hours of free programming," Exline explained, "but that's one less local talk-show host on staff they need. It makes small- and medium-market radio properties more profitable and attractive by cutting down staff expenses."

When you have an massive corporation behind you, it's easy to do well. And, if you think that massive corporate support like this would go to a liberal talk show host, you haven't paid much attention to how corporate power has pushed a far right agenda. Even at MSNBC, things only seem so "liberal" because there is one token liberal, Rachel Maddow, and one token moderate, Keith Olbermann. The rest of that network is dominated by conservative and rightist anchors with low profiles in addition to Tweety, a conservative Phonycrat, and the fringe right Joe Scarborough. (BTW: what really did happen to Lori Klausutus?)

Syndicator chicanery of the variety exposed by Mann is only part of the problem. The other issue is the role of advertising. Advertisers, for the most part, are huge corporations with rightist Republicans as CEOs and major shareholders. Even worse, most privately held corporations are owned entirely by Gopper nutjobs.

A lot of liberals were disappointed by Al Franken's show on Air America. His centrist politics, including conservative pro war views were certainly out of step with most of the network's listeners. (I think that is why he avoided taking callers, which usually is a staple for talk radio.) Yet, even he had trouble getting advertising, even in markets where he was beating Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Really.

The sad reality is that centrist and liberal talkers don't just need to beat rightist nutjobs like Limbaugh in order to be more profitable. They have to obliterate the Goppers in the ratings just to keep up.

That's why we should laugh when Limbaugh claims that his success shows that his views enjoy gigantic popularity. Yes, Rush and his clones at Faux News may be benefiting from anti-Obama feelings on the right, but that cannot obscure us from seeing how the whole corporate media system is as fixed as pro wrestling.

 

2 comments

  1. Christopher Says:
  2. Very interesting factoid.

    I should've known there was some other component to explain why so many stations carried him.

    It's very curious. I've posted on more than a few blogs calling Limbaugh what he is: 1.) a pedophile, and 2.) a junkie, and his so-called Dittoheads go apeshit crazy by my characterizations of the 400lbs. bloviator.

    Of course, this isn't slander because it's true. Limbaugh is a regular visitor to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic -- a popular locale for wealth North American and Canadian pedophiles who fly in and throw a few hundred dollars at economically poor, teenage boys, for a weekend of carnal splendor. Limbaugh and his $100 million dollar Gulfstream jet are very well known there.

    Why are people still questioning his drug use and abuse? He was busted for scoring OxyCotin in a gas station parking lot with his maid and her boyfriend who supplied the cretin. And least we forget that Limbaugh was busted on a return visit from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic a few years ago for having a year's worth of Viagra in his luggage. Apparently, his noodle doesn't work as well as it once did.

     
  3. two crows Says:
  4. Here I am, living in Florida, and I'd never heard of Lori Klausutus. But I sure as heck know who Chandra is.

    That about says it all, doesn't it?

    Thanks for this info.

     

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