Rush Limbaugh, the most successful talk radio broadcaster in history, passed away February 17th after a hard-fought battle with stage four lung cancer.
You may have loved him or not, but no one can argue the significance of his impact on media and Republican politics over the past thirty-plus years.
He was one of a kind, and the radio business he built will never be duplicated.
Rush would say he had “talent on loan from God,” and he wasn’t wrong. He was a once-in-a-generation, one-of-a-kind, rare talent that was able to speak for three hours per day, 15 hours a week, off the top of his head, and he didn’t need callers but took calls anyways.
I’ve produced and hosted talk radio programs before, and trust me when I say that what Limbaugh did is hard. Very few could do it, including many nationally syndicated radio hosts.
What Rush accomplished not only will never be achieved again because so few could talk for so long without a script, but also because the media industry is completely different now than when he started his show nationally in 1988.
There is more conservative media content produced now than one person could possibly stream, read, download, or watch. Without Rush, none of it would exist. He created the industry.
With so much competition for audiences, I don’t think it’s possible for someone to reach an audience the size of his show.
On talk radio, there is Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Mark Levin. Even more hosts on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Not into talk radio? There are countless political podcasts.
Tired of Fox News? There is the more pro-Trump Newsmax or One America News Network.
Like reading? There is The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller, or The Blaze websites.
There are now apps that offer even more conservative video content like The First TV, where Bill O’Reilly airs now, or YouTubers and social media influencers sharing Republican views.
When Rush started, he was the only national conservative broadcaster, and his success proved there was a market for conservative leaning media content. Now the market is saturated.
With so many voices and options for conservatives to choose from, it would be difficult for someone to rise to the level of success Rush Limbaugh did in any medium.
For the talk radio industry, with its Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady (whichever sports analogy works for you) now deceased, the question is now what will talk radio do?
It’s hard to imagine anyone else occupying the noon to 3 pm Eastern timeslot.
The plan for Limbaugh’s syndicator Premiere Radio Networks since he passed away has been to air guest-hosted clips of Rush from his show’s 32-year archive because they know you can’t replace someone that is as irreplaceable as him.
Limbaugh’s syndicator announced Clay Travis, creator of Outkick.com, will co-host a show with Buck Sexton, who already hosts a show with Premiere, in the noon-3pm time slot, replacing “The Rush Limbaugh Show.”
Dan Bongino entered the competitive noon-3pm “Rush” daypart this week with a new national show. While Bongino seems to have been labeled by some as the defacto Rush replacement, there are other shows airing in the Rush slot already including Todd Starnes, Dana Loesch, and Charlie Kirk.
While Rush owned the noon slot for decades, with so many other shows now available, it will be hard for one host to air on hundreds of stations or dominant the conversation like Limbaugh did.
There is just too much media now for one personality to be the centered of the conversation like Rush was on the E.I.B. Network.
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