About Those Positive Omens….

A few days ago, I posted about emerging indications that American society might be coming to its senses. One of those signs was the diminishing reach of Rush Limbaugh and the hate-filled rhetoric he spawned on the nation’s airwaves.

There’s continuing good news on that front. Evidently, WRKO-AM, a longtime distributor of right-wing content in Massachusetts, has decided to drop Limbaugh’s radio show after carrying it for nearly two decades.

Limbaugh, of course, has never recovered from the advertiser backlash following his 2012 rhetorical assault on Sandra Fluke. As former iHeartMedia executive Darryl Parks noted earlier this year, Limbaugh has essentially killed his own industry:

Today’s talk radio, as we know it, is fast fading into the sunset because of a format stuck with 1990’s rhetoric, each day addressing topics few care about. A constant right-wing political drumbeat that no longer resonates. A format where its practitioners can’t define the word entertainment. A format attracting fewer people, men or women, under 65.

Probably the most important problem for rabid rightwing media is that the audience–not just for Limbaugh and his clones, but also for Faux News, and other propaganda outlets– is increasingly aging. As Parks put it,

All was good until the world changed and the aging, pissed off Baby Boomers (I’m one of those too – Baby Boomer – not pissed off) were no longer relevant. Extreme political ideas no longer resonated with listeners as generational power shifted from Boomers to Gen X’ers and now Millennials, groups that have a more centrist belief in regards to many social issues. They’re mostly OK with Hispanics, lesbians, smoking pot and women using birth control. Many are even OK with the first African American President.

A relative of mine in the radio business once told me that the primary audience for talk radio was over-50 white guys who wanted to hear their resentments and prejudices validated.

That audience, thankfully, is shrinking.


  1. Radio shows are constantly being dropped by some markets and picked up in others. Radio stations are constantly shuffling their programming. Trying to divine great meaning from two such incidents is a bit of a stretch to say the least. Conservative talk radio remains very popular. The players are changing but the product remains very popular. If it wasn’t the liberal owner of WIBC wouldn’t have a conservative radio lineup including the recently added Tony Katz.

  2. Let us not assume that a the waning popularity of one radio goof is an indication that someone more centrists or middle of the road is taking his place. I live in an area where this kind of radio still dominates the airwaves and I see more extreme voices getting on the air during more ‘normal’ hours [the ones that were once only on the air during the overnight hours, for example]. I would be interested to see or ‘hear’ what takes the place of Rush on these stations… I assure you it’s not the “Bernie Sanders Radio Hour”!

  3. Rush has become a self caricature. I agree there will be replacements for him – the Chicks on the Right for example – however, the message remains the same. The usual tired old cliches from a bunch of conservatives without the burden of responsibility for the outcomes; keep the commentary running and never, never ever consider a different opinion. Indoctrinate listeners that compromise is toxic and that what’s good of the conservative cause is more important than what’s good of the country at large.

    When I lived in CA 30 years ago, brew pubs had become very popular and there were many new ones starting all the time. It took about 20 years for the mid-west to notice the trend and now craft brewing is very popular and hip in the flat lands. I expect the loss of interest in talk radio to follow a similar arc.

  4. First off, Rush Limpbaugh was foisted on every small market and was part of a ‘package’ so the fiction of his ‘popularity’ was just that. He was bundled just like Faux News is bundled. And I’m one of those aging baby boomers, so I REALLY don’t understand what audience he was playing to. I’m still the bleeding fang liberal I have always been. BUT that said, MSNBC needs to realize that the audience they think they are talking to doesn’t want propaganda–WE WANT REAL NEWS so stop schilling for the Dems and do some old fashioned journalism. Like why did Maddow, who KNOWS BETTER cheer lead the assassination of Bin Laden. Last time I checked, putting down hits was left to the mafia. Now, US Presidents don’t even have the decency to do it in secret. So before we crow too much, look at how much the hired mouths have helped cheer lead the lurch to the right.

  5. What about the psychographics? What direction is that going? Unfortunately, much of the evidence is subsurface. Consequently, it is both difficult to observe as well as difficult to report.

    In my estimation, POLITICAL MINDS are affected much more by psychogaphics than demographics. For example: An increase in anti-black, anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim resentment is a psychographic issue not a demographic one.

  6. Like most toxins, conservative airway pollution will never be zero but higher or lower concentrations represent more or less risk to humanity. So I take what you report as a positive trend for American freedom but we’re a long way from out of the woods.

    It always was a product to be sold. Like cars and fashion and hairstyle part of the selling of it is to keep the buyers always unhappy with the old and anxious for the new. So the oligarchs of America are bobbing and weaving trying to avoid any direct blow of accountability and lipsticking the pig in new brighter colors to create the new fashion.

    But they are still in search of more influence, more power, entitled by all that they have to offer, money, in order to make, well, more money.

    A hopeful sign though are the seemingly endless stream of GOP (Great Oligarchy Plot) Presidential Candidates that most everyone notices are completely unqualified for the job. Like we noticed about Sarah Palin they will crash and burn. It’s just a matter of time.

    Someplace I just read that even the media’s hatefest with the Clintons is wearing down as unsustainable. Same with science denial be it climate science or evolutionary biology. People will fall for BS only so long but if nothing real ever shows up even the gullible move on.

    So, all in all, good news from the front. Progress for democracy. But there are endless battles yet to be fought.

    Remember we’re down to only one fully functional branch of Federal Government and that’s not yet a lock in 2016. We have to maintain that and restore Congress back to functional before we can change the balance of power in SCOTUS back to supporting our essential freedoms.

    The news is hopeful but the second Revolution is not yet won. King George is merely dressed differently this time. The good news is that we can vote him out we don’t need to run him out as we did before.

  7. I apologize for not capitalizing the B in black. It was Freudian. I’m “pissed off” with the Blacks. Yesterday, there were only four in the Courtroom during the trial of one of the defendants from the Jacksonville 19. But I must admit that was better than the Whites which had only three including me. The Media had zero.

    What a city. No free speech or free press. That’s a powerful combination don’t you think?

  8. Pete:
    This part of your fine post on Sheila’s blog caught my eye:

    “Remember we’re down to only one fully functional branch of Federal Government and that’s not yet a lock in 2016. We have to maintain that and restore Congress back to functional before we can change the balance of power in SCOTUS back to supporting our essential freedoms.”

    As one who is terrified that the great GOP conspiracy might buy the presidency, how that might further throw SCOTUS farther to the whacko right by nominations for anticipated replacements, given the expected GOP Senate approval with GOP unanimity, please God give us a non-GOP president, who, by restraint will help avert the catastrophic result we will get from a one-party government in the current climate.

    The first result I think will be to overturn some of the hard-won 5 to 4 decisions by the Supreme Court. Listen to the rhetoric from the GOP presidential hopefuls who, if elected, will be beholden to the oligarchy ergo the war department.

    Pete, I for one would like to read more from you.

  9. Honestly, I do not get too excited over Right Wing Radio or FOX News. Radio and TV have become homogenized across America. The unique small radio stations have given way to McMedia. I am from Left of the political spectrum. I did not always agree with but I could respect a William Buckley. His views were presented calmly and factually and he respected his guests. This is not the case today.

    Back in the mid 1970’s in college I had the pleasure of hearing Gene Roddenberry creator of Star Trek. Roddenberry lamented the cancellation of Star Trek and the lack of creativity in Hollywood as whole. He made an interesting comment on the Movie Planet of the Apes. He said in essence the lesson learned by Hollywood about Planet of Apes, was not the unique creativeness of the story. Roddenberry said the Hollywood take away was, The American People want Apes, lets give them more Apes. Thus we had several sequels. The same could said of the Movie Alien.

    The point I am laboring to make is our News and talk shows have morphed into Entertainment. If a loud mouth no facts or loose with the facts Entertainer has high ratings the logical conclusion for the Mega-Media is to up the ante with someone louder and more aggressive.

    It irks me when I watch Mega-Media Cable and the hosts constantly interrupt their guests. The civility and intelligence of a William Buckley would not make it today. I suspect also many so-called experts paraded on Cable including politicians would not have withstood the rigorous but polite questions of a William Buckley.

  10. Most likely, I am the oldest poster to this blog and the demographic evolutions of America simply boggles my mind. It’s been more than twenty years since I first noticed the elderly grandparents with their mixed race grand children in tow at Walmart. I didn’t think Obama was much of an indication because of the disaster he was replacing. Yet, make no mistake; Tina Fey saved this nation.

    Long story short: things are changing much too quickly for the aging GOP to grasp. It has taken much more time than predicted, but the time remaining is very short.

  11. I admit, the first time I heard Rush in the 80s, I thought he was a bully and hated him since. My brother 56 and sister 60 still listened to him when we spoke about 3 yrs ago. We could not have a conversation about politics at all because I would be demonized for being so liberal. Whatever. Rush can go suck an egg. I hope his days are over very soon, but as the other commenters mentioned, another will take his place. ugh.

    I am listening to WTTS FM (Indy station) which I missed out west when I lived there and here in Europe but it’s only a click away. Thankfully, they have on-line radio so I can hear new and old music I like to listen to and it’s all in English. Yeah. They keep the commentary very short and to the point. I always know what the temperature is in Indy and that’s all the news I need from there. I get my dose of Indy through Sheila’s blog. Thanks for all your hard work. I don’t know how you do it.

  12. I happen to like Rush for years. His views reflect many of my own, including yours Sheila. If one actually LISTENS to him he bashes republicans plenty.

  13. Louie: Re: Gene Roddenberry. I have told my wife for a few years that there is no point to television; programming has been reduced to make room for longer and louder commercials that are often more entertaining than the program. The accountants at the top of the networks have little time or tolerance for any programming that elicits thought; the only thought is to keep the advertising revenues flowing, at any expense. The result is the drek that now passes as entertainment. Television as it is managed today, is out of ideas.

  14. Remember the real purpose of media is to create culture that demands what business has to sell. The entertainment, such as it is, is only thrown in to keep you watching, hearing, and reading the advertising.

    And despite the consensus, that advertising is amazingly effective. In fact if you do some research on the science behind brand marketing it’s state of the art.

    Of course the whole circus now has been co-opted by politics and has become a twofer for the power hungry. Businesses after your money and politics after your mind.

    There is of course the issue of whether it can exist in a benign form. I don’t know but sort of doubt it. We’re just too gullible.

    It’s technically possible for the Internet to break the vicious cycle of advertising in favor of education but those out to buy business or minds will follow the eyeballs as if their lives depend on it as their livelyhoods do.

    The only real solution is education in the ways of the marketing world to the point where the average Joe and Jane and Juniors are immune to its seduction. A long way off I believe.

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