Cumulus Deal Doesn’t Cloud Outlook for Limbaugh, Hannity

Even if the parties don't reach agreement, the radio stars won't be hurting for offers

Politico dubbed its latest report on the prospect of radio owner Cumulus dropping mega-hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity a “major shakeup for the radio industry,” but it’s hard to see how, at least in any way that consumers will notice.

More like rearranging the furniture, or shuffling the deck chairs aboard the S.S. Incredibly Rich Guy.

Read the story a little closer, and this is a dispute over the cost of the programs, pure and simple. And while Cumulus does have a strong portfolio of stations, it’s not like rivals wouldn’t be eager to snap up the two highest-rated hosts in conservative talk, even if that includes enduring the occasional advertiser boycott directed at Limbaugh for saying the kind of outrageous things that ensure his listeners keep showing up.

On Monday’s program, Limbaugh — who isn’t always known for his staunch fidelity to accuracy — got it about right when he reassured self-proclaimed Ditto-heads not to worry about the Politico story, saying, “You are gonna be able to get this radio program on as many, if not more, radio stations down the road than it’s on now, and what you’re being treated to is just a public business negotiation.”

Whatever you think of his politics, Rush Limbaugh (and to a slightly lesser degree, Hannity) have demonstrated one thing: There’s almost no more cost-efficient form of programming in the history of media than a Republican firebrand and a microphone. Moreover, the marketing genius underlying the formula hinges on the belief among like-minded consumers that because the mainstream media heavily tilts left, only those voices are to be trusted — a perception that has only been strengthened during the Obama administration.

So even if Cumulus and Limbaugh/Hannity distributor Premiere Radio Networks do wind up parting ways, the forecast is anything but cloudy. In fact, it will be as simple as resetting those AM car buttons from 640 to 790.

Because this much is pretty clear: Rush Limbaugh will be hosting a radio program as long as his voice and interest in doing one hold out.

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