Rush Staying With Cumulus
Industry sources very close to the negotiations confirmed to Radio Ink late last night that Rush Limbaugh will not be leaving Cumulus stations when his contract is up at the end of this year. The one exception will be in New York City where Limbaugh will switch from WABC to Clear Channel's WOR-AM. A deal between Cumulus and Limbaugh, who is syndicated by Clear Channel owned Premiere Radio Networks, was struck when Premiere agreed to unbundle Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to sources.
This negotiation became very public with Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey making statements that the talk format was not producing the revenue he believed they should, even labeling them "code red." At times, Limbaugh was caught in the cross-hairs of those statements over his highly publicized statements about Sandra Fluk, which Cumulus said cost them revenue. Limbaugh was even forced to mention the negotiations on his program several weeks ago. But business is business and Rush Limbaugh, who recently celebrated 25 years on the air, is still the number one Talk Radio Host in the world. It would have been very difficult for Cumulus to overcome the loss of both Sean Hannity (see next story) and Rush Limbaugh.
In 2014 Cumulus will try to drive revenue with Michael Savage in Hannity's slot. Hannity was just too expensive for Cumulus, according to sources, and when Premiere finally agreed to negotiate Hannity and Rush separately, Cumulus saw that as an opportunity to move Savage in. Cumulus syndicates Savage, who can be very hard-core to the right of most other syndicated talkers. How will advertisers accept Savage? Cumulus has most likely calculated that it can generate more profit from a show it distributes itself compared to paying a price it considered too high for the number two talker, Sean Hannity.
Changes to the talk radio landscape in America will start to unfold in 2014. Contracts for both Hannity and Limbaugh expire at the end of this year.
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