The simple fact is that the well of dollars keeping conservative talk radio going might very well be going dry for good. One might be surprised by something as commonplace as Rush Limbaugh’s slut-shaming would be causing collateral damage for a bunch of other hosts, but I’m not. Their ratings have been dropping significantly since the midterm elections ended, and the simple fact is that if you’re over 49, as most talk radio listeners are (quite older in fact), advertisers are absolutely uninterested in trying to get you to buy anything. That’s just how it goes. Of course, even if the demographic is generally older, there are still going to be some people in age groups advertisers care about tuning in (perhaps for ironic purposes–I used to listen to Michael Savage semiregularly and laugh at his lack of self-awareness), so you have to balance that with the possibility of getting slimed by association. Looking at all this, it seems very obvious that a tipping point would eventually be reached, that eventually the aging demographics, chronically declining ratings and fears of ruining a company’s reputation would eventually create a perfect storm, and that the meathead contingent would be stuck in the middle of it in a boat when it hit. If it weren’t Sandra Fluke inciting it, it would have been something else. If the trend holds, of course.

And this is, it goes without saying, a very good thing. I personally tend to be suspicious when people earn tremendous amounts of money just venturing their opinions. What kind of opinions are worth that cash? Hateful ones, typically. Ones that scare people into retaining the status quo, now you’re talking. If you’re saying something truly dangerous, or taking action that really threatens the status quo, the odds are you’re not going to make $50 million a year doing it. That’s the tell for me. Rush Limbaugh makes that kind of money by preying upon peoples’ fears and anxieties, and by continually trying to marginalize the voices of inclusion, moderation and sanity within his chosen party. I remember reading many years ago that D.C. groups based on ideals, like people working for stronger environmental regulations, tended to pay poorly, while obviously big oil pays handsomely. And that stuck with me. When it comes to politics, I tend to be highly suspicious of enormous paychecks because there’s not much money in lonely battles against unjust laws. There’s tons of money in protecting powerful interests, since they have it and they have everything to lose. But my question at this point is: what happens if this is for real? How does right-wing radio stick around absent this kind of moneymaking potential? The idea that Mark Levin and Sean Hannity would rebrand themselves as moderates to cultivate a broader following seems unlikely to me, but I guess it depends on whether they want to follow the money or remain ideologues. Time will tell the true grifters from the ideologues. So here’s how I think the big talk radio personalities would deal with leaner times:

  • Limbaugh will never change his style, though he might well have fully cooked his goose this time. He doesn’t exactly take criticism or bad news well, so it’s entirely possible he’ll hang up his microphone after his contract ends and devote himself full-time to designing ugly clothes. Hopefully?
  • It doesn’t appear that the radio boycotts have spread to cable news yet, so even if his radio show bombs Sean Hannity is probably going to be just fine. Sadness.
  • Laura Ingraham has always struck me as a complete opportunist, and if there’s no money to be made as a Limbaugh clone, she’ll just become a clone of someone else who makes more money.
  • Glenn Beck will drop off the face of the earth, but will anyone be sad about that? Also, that’s kind of already in process.
  • I don’t think Mark Levin is capable of dialing down the malice, so he’ll try to ride it out to the end. But my guess is he’ll eventually snap when the millionth person mispronounces his name (“It’s Leh-VINN, dammit!”) and have a minor stroke that convinces him to retire.
  • Michael Savage has seemingly already figured out that aping Alex Jones is a less saturated market, and I would expect him to just go further in that direction.

All in all, the ghost of Morton Downey Jr. will weep.

Did I miss any of the biggies? Write below in comments.

{ 1 comment }
  1. I truly hope that you are correct as I have no use for the hate mongers. Life is way to short to spend it listening and following such crap. I really don’t think that the boycott will bring down Russ as he always has the Tea Party to rally behind him. But a lot of women are now going to vote and it will not be for the GOP.

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