by Joe Shea
REVOLUTION ON RADIO
BRADENTON, Fla., March 10, 2012 -- Some or all of the most vile of the lying, distorting, deceiving, extreme and dangerous talk-show hosts who populate conservative talk radio - Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Tom Leykis, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Todd Schnitt, Neal Boortz and Michael Savage - may have just lost their gravy train, Newsweek reports.
Some 98 advertisers - including several of the very biggest on radio - have told Premiere Radio Networks, which distributes these creeps, that they no longer want their products to appear with "specific polarizing hosts," Newsweek's current Web edition of the Daily Beast says, citing a company memo.
Says reporter John Avlon, "This is big. According to the radio-industry website Radio-Info.com, which first posted excerpts of the Premiere memo, among the 98 large corporations that have decided to no longer sponsor these programs are "carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm), and restaurants (McDonald's, Subway)." Together, these talk-radio advertising staples represent millions of dollars in revenue."
But," Avlon says, "the irony is that the same market forces that right-wing talk-radio hosts champion are helping to seal their fate. Advertisers are abandoning the shows because they no longer want to be associated with the hyperpartisan — and occasionally hateful — rhetoric. They are finally drawing a line because consumers are starting to take a stand.
Radio-Info.com," which describes itself as "Radio's online community," published an excerpt from Premiere Networks' management memo to its hundreds of station managers Saturday. The memo says, in part:
To all Traffic Managers: The information below applies to your Premiere Radio Networks commercial inventory. More than 350 different advertisers sponsor the programs and services provided to your station on a barter basis. Like advertisers that purchase commercials on your radio station from your sales staff, our sponsors communicate specific rotations, daypart preferences and advertising environments they prefer… They've specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity). Those are defined as environments likely to stir negative sentiment from a very small percentage of the listening public..
The "very small percentage" of listeners they refer to apparently includes a goodly chunk of the highly desirable demographic of women aged 24-55, many of them undoubtedly working women who resent being called, by inference, "sluts" and "prostitutes" because their employers provide contraceptives through health care plans.
"Limbaugh didn't insult the woman during an isolated slip-of-the-tongue moment, the way Don Imus did when he called a women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos." Limbaugh referred to Fluke as "slut," "prostitute," and other derogatory terms more than 50 times! He was clearly trying to create a public furor," said Wendy Murphy of the GateHouser News Service. In that, he has surely succeeded, and he may bring down the entire pantheon of destructive right-wing talk-show hosts with him.
While the major advertisers who are jumping ship leave some 250 who will remain on board, they were already being replaced this past week by public service announcements from the United Negro College Fund, the Urban League and other do-gooder organizations that may not have the ability to remove their ads - which are free to them - from the stations' lineup.
As a longtime listener to Tampa's AM970 WFLA, a Clear Channel station that hosts all of the folks I mentioned except to Tom Leykis of KFI in Los Angeles, I listen every day to Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity for as long as I can stand it and then turn to local NPR stations, which may be a lot more boring but are a lot easier to listen to. Let's hope NPR stations revamp at least some of their content to make it more controversial and maintain any boost they get from the disappearance of the right-wing blowhards that appears about to occur.
NPR does talk about some interesting things, like the sex life of bees, but I'd rather hear a free-spirited exchange of ideas between people of all the diverse viewpoints that constitute the American radio audience. For me, the problem with right-wing hosts is that they lie, distort and deceive with abandon, all the while trumpeting their version of "the truth," which is not truth by any reasonable standard. The deeper problem is that the hosts are themselves the sponsors of many of the lies they spew.
C-SPAN, in programs like Washington Journal, allows callers from across the country to present any views they please, and usually listen with respect. There is only a limited amount of back-and-forth, and hosts don't seem to be arbitrators of what "the truth" actually is but facilitators of people who want to share their point of view about it. On Washington Journal, no one but the guests really get to dominate the shows in any meaningful way; what we really need, in fact, in place of the blowhards from the right wing, is a C-SPAN radio show that takes call from listeners all day and all night, so America's mainstream voice is never silenced.
Resources Daily Beast: David Frum On How It All Works
Wendy J. Murphy: is the author of The Politics of Sex and Sluts.