Predictions of the demise of Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio are a dime a dozen. That liberal wish has been a repeated incantation. But it’s more amusing when the demise talk comes from .... “Newsweek.”
Come again? Who’s yesterday’s news? John Avlon of the Daily Beast asserts Rush Limbaugh “Bleeds Millions From His Carriers as Toxic Talk Slumps.” Ahem, nobody’s bought Rush’s show for a dollar, like someone bought Newsweek. Avlon finds some guy whose newsletter has a Facebook page with nine Likes to insult Limbaugh’s audience as “all wearing Depends” – when he graduated college in 1968.
We're watching the end of right-wing conservative talk radio," says Jerry Del Colliano, publisher of the radio-industry tip sheet Inside Music Media. "The genre is dying among ratings and dying among advertisers ... Rush is at the end of his career. His constituency is all wearing Depends. And he's getting himself into trouble he doesn't need. So can you put Humpty Dumpty back together again? They have been able to improve their advertising picture, but they have not been able to come back."
"Sandra Fluke was simply the lightning that struck and hit an old building that collapsed," Colliano says. "She didn't do it. She helped to bring it down at the end, but it was falling apart on its own."
...But the larger issue is the declining demographics of the right-wing talk-radio racket. “Look at the millennial generation,” says Colliano. “There’s 80 million of them coming of age. They don’t see color. They don’t see gender. And they’re civic minded: they don’t like bloviating. They don’t like yelling and screaming. So you tell me: how’s right-wing talk radio working for them?”
As in the past, the aging right-wing talkers—several of whom are represented by Limbaugh’s agent and brother David—will angrily dispute any decline in their profitability or ratings. It’s all become part of their self-serving kabuki, but Colliano dismisses their reflexive playing of the victim card. “They read the ratings the way they read the Gallup ratings right before the Obama victory. It’s their metrics; it’s their way. But its not backed by fact.”
It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that radio programmers might look at Obama's re-election and wonder if conservative talk radio is still hot. But you can't trust people who keep saying this over and over -- and Avlon wrote almost the same article in 2011.
Dear Mr. Avlon: speaking of "toxic talk," never forget sitting in the middle of a Newsweek chat about how no one should ever give Dick Cheney a heart.