You’ve seen the ratings. Still big-in-small-markets, Rush Limbaugh is now small-in-big-markets.
In New York, his affiliate is trailing several non-English-language stations. Ditto a bunch of ‘em in LA, where his station also trails several college stations.
Other top tens? Top teens in rankers.
In his heyday, Limbaugh helped make stations #1.
Now, to find a #1 major market Rush affiliate, you have to drill-down to WSB/Atlanta and KMOX/St. Louis.
What both have in common? They’re great stations, surrounding and infusing Limbaugh’s show with quality local content, and plenty of it.
Adding-insult-to-injury, Clear Channel — PARENT COMPANY of Limbaugh’s own syndicator — is taking his show off their own stations in some pretty big markets. In San Francisco, CC just killed-off its “The Patriot” station and let the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity shows migrate to arch-rival Cumulus, which won’t even play ‘em all live. And CC gave up the Talk format entirely in Pittsburgh, where competitor KDKA-AM’s local programming, whupped the Beck/Limbaugh/Hannity line-up on an FM that recently switched to Country.
If I were advising Rush, I’d tell him to do exactly what he’s doing.
Run the shockjock playbook. Every day, there’s a new outrage, something that’ll offend women, minorities, someone, and get quoted.
Goal, in ratings-speak: “horizontal maintenance.”
Translation: Build/maintain Share via same-time-tomorrow listening.
Why: At this point, no minds are being changed.
Accordingly: Keep the like-minded — and those who find Limbaugh an amusing buffoon — coming-back-for-more.
I have two Rush playbooks:
If, in any given market, my client is the Limbaugh affiliate, “he’s the biggest star in Talk Radio,” and we both leverage and hedge the franchise, proven tactics.
In other markets, including the smalls, our local hosts can beat Rush, by being more affable and engaging.