Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Frum Explains the Talk Radio Business Model

The last time I understood anything about the radio business was about the time when Arthur Carlson learned that turkeys can't fly.  Undertaking to explain R*sh L*mb**gh, David Frum brings me up to date:
Most talk-radio programs offer radio stations this deal: we’ll give you three hours of content for free. (Some programs—cough, Glenn, cough, Beck—actually pay radio stations to accept their content.) Those three hours will include 54 minutes of ad time. That ad time is split between the radio station and the show: each gets 27 minutes to sell.

In this world, Limbaugh is unique. He actually charges radio stations for his content: up to $1 million a year in a major market. Plus, he charges the highest ad rates in the business. Those two revenue streams—multiplied by more radio outlets than anybody else in the industry has—have made Limbaugh a very rich man.
As apparently everybody knows, Limbaugh seems to begin on the skids at moment.  Frum's takeaway is that the real threat to Limbaugh is not the his own anarchic like but a milder, gentler, more amiable form of talk show host--folks, put your hands together for Mike Huckabee, onetime presidential candidate who seems to entertain some fairly standard batshit looney views of other leading Republicans but in a less confrontational manner.

I doubt it.  I don't think anybody wants to listen to three hours of nice, no matter how goofy (full disclosure: I add my name to the list of those who find Huckabee likeable in manner if godsmacking in substance).  My guess is that Rush may be on his way to satellite radio where he can join potty mouths like Don Imus and Howard Stern and, so far as I can tell, never be heard from again.


1 comment:

marcel said...

Imus is still on broadcast radio; I hear him from time to time on 1 of the local oldies stations, late in the morning. I don't know the exact schedule (i.e., when his show ends), so hear him when I am channel surfing for music that appeals to me.