Why? Because four years after Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” on air, spurring a major boycott movement, reams of advertisers still won’t touch him. He suffers from what talk radio consultant Holland Cooke calls a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers.” And for someone who has said that “confiscatory ad rates” are a key pillar of his business, that spells trouble. ...
Limbaugh’s extremely lucrative eight-year contract—estimated to be worth roughly $38 million a year—is up this summer. What will happen to “America’s Anchorman,” as Limbaugh quasi-ironically refers to himself, once the contract is up, is anybody’s guess. Because as he is learning, political power does not necessarily a stellar business make.
But by attacking Fluke in such grotesque terms, Limbaugh broke a cardinal rule of radio—not to mention polite society, says Darryl Parks, a radio industry veteran and former Clear Channel news-talk format chief based in Cincinnati: “Don’t beat up on a woman, and don’t beat up on a [young person].”
In one fell swoop, he had done both.
The Sandra Fluke incident “did a lot of harm to talk radio,” Darryl Parks says. “Thirty-eight percent of revenue disappeared overnight.” And the damage was not limited to Limbaugh; he hurt all of talk radio, including even some liberal hosts. Certain programs—Michael Savage, for example, and in an earlier era, Bob Grant—had always been considered “toxic” by some advertisers, but after the Fluke incident, entire stations—or indeed, the entire format of talk radio—were deemed no-go zones by blue chip brands.
If there are electronics involved, I'm stuck. So that's why you don't see me on TV. I literally cannot do it. I cannot hear remotely, and even if I'm in a studio and I'm hooked up, I don't hear every word, and then I have to start guessing at what I've heard. And, believe me, it's not conducive to a flowing conversation. There's no court reporter. There's nobody transcribing what's being said on a TV set for me to look in case I need some help. It just isn't there, and that wouldn't work on TV anyway, because no matter how fast it is, it's not instantaneous.
Regardless of what you think about Limbaugh, his "slut" comment hasn't hurt his brand. Selective quotes notwithstanding.
And none of them were replaced? He's going off the air? He doesn't wield power?
Advertisers left Limbaugh after his comments about Sandra Fluke inspired the boycott, and the corporate giants have not come back. Limbaugh’s contract is guaranteed, so the boycott hasn’t cost him a dime yet, but it has pushed Premiere to the point of bankruptcy, killed the radio stations who were forced to pay the carriage fees to air Limbaugh, and resulted in the right-wing talker losing influence by being demoted to smaller stations.