Hannity, Limbaugh reportedly dropped from radio deals — but wait, there’s more

Cumulus Media might be dropping the conservative commentators over syndication renewal costs.

The shakeup would create a rift on the radio dial as The Sean Hannity Show is currently on stations in several cities where powerful stations broadcast, and bank on, the Hannity program. Hannity didn’t mince words, according to Fox News, when they published the following quote:

“The Dickeys are the single worst operators in the history of radio. They have destroyed legendary stations like KGO and KSFO. They are currently in the process of destroying WLS, WABC, WJR, WBAP and WMAL.”

It’s assumed that his use of the word “Dickeys” refers to Cumulus Media, Inc. The company owns over 570 radio stations, and its broadcast footprint is second to Clear Channel Communications, Inc., which owns more radio-and-TV properties than any other company.

Meanwhile, Politico has published a slightly different take on the drama surrounding the talk hosts. Another Cumulus-syndicated program, hosted by Michael Savage, may fill Hannity’s program, according to Savage — as quoted by Politico:

“I predict, right here, right now, that I Michael Savage and the Savage Nation is going to take over The Sean Hannity Show time slot by the end of the year,” Savage announced. “I am the heir apparent to afternoon drive on the East Coast and around America on Cumulus stations, which have the most powerful stations in the radio world.”

Compared to Limbaugh, Hannity is a newcomer to syndicated radio. Rush started to gain widespread attention in 1984 while a talk host on KFBK-AM in Sacramento. By 1994 his program was syndicated to several stations, including KFI-AM, in Los Angeles.

Limbaugh’s conservative views were a strong balance to prevailing politics at that time, and his program went on to replace hundreds of local programs across the country.

His strongest allies included U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who penned a letter to Limbaugh in 1992. He reportedly complimented Limbaugh “for all you’re doing to promote Republican and conservative principles … [and] you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country.”

Before entering the radio business, Hannity painted houses. In 1989 he hosted a program on UC Santa Barbara, KCSB-FM. At the same time he continued his work as a general contractor.

Being new to the broadcasting business, even on a small station, his program was pulled after a program described as The AIDS Coverup: The Real and Alarming Facts About AIDS.

Eventually, after much self promotion, Hannity would return to the radio and eventually to television. His conservative brand complimented many stations that competed with Limbaugh, and the show was added to other stations that were already affiliates of Limbaugh’s broadcast.

If revenue is the genuine issue for Cumulus, it seems likely that a spin off of Hannity would be the cut to make first.

Limbaugh clearly understands that his program is entertainment, not news, and as such he has the skill to bend to the changing political discussion happening nationwide.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

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