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Rush Limbaugh Celebrates 25 Years in Syndication


It's an incredible achievement in our industry when you're able to build a program to the point hundreds of radio stations want to carry it. It's almost unheard of, once you've built that huge roster of stations, to keep them for decades. Unless you are Rush Limbaugh of course. It was August 1, 1988 when Rush began his syndication run that many say saved the AM dial. In an exclusive Radio Ink cover story interview, Rush will look back on those 25 years and offer his thoughts on whether someone in radio today can achieve the kind of success he's enjoying. Our special issue with Rush on the cover will be released April 22nd. This week we'll hear from many in the radio industry as they analyze Rush's reign as one of the most successful broadcasters of all time.

Consultant Gabe Hobbs says of Rush's 25 year syndication run, "The short answer is talent, entertainment values and a clear understanding on his part that he is in show business and not politics. Rush Limbaugh at the very least reinvented a genre but more likely you could claim he invented a NEW genre.  He became a bigger than life RADIO personality who knew how to deliver unique content that simply wasn’t available in 1988 on the radio dial in the United States.  By the early 90’s we had hundreds of imitators.  None achieved his level of success because they were not naturally different or unique.  And most missed the entertainment value proposition as well." 

Hobbs says there were certainly other factors at work. "According to Al Ries and Jack Trout history shows that the first brand into the brain, on the average, gets twice the long-term market share of the second brand.  So first in wins as a general rule.  Rush was first and he remains the best.  What Paul Harvey is to news radio, Rush Limbaugh is to talk radio.  So programmers should stop asking themselves, “Where is the next Paul Harvey or Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern?”  Instead you should be asking, “Where is the next great entertainer or communicator?  Where can I find someone that is new and different?  Someone that will say things in a way that is fresh."

With Rush celebrating 25 years in syndication it's important to note it was at KFBK in Sacramento when Rush  replaced Morton Downey Jr. that his incredible run really took off. That station, owned by Clear Channel, still carries his program today.