The Times They Are A-Changin’

Rush Limbaugh Scandal Proves Contagious for Talk-Radio Advertisers.

Rush Limbaugh Scandal Proves Contagious for Talk-Radio Advertisers


Ninety-eight major advertisers—including Ford and Geico—will no longer air spots on Premiere Networks’ ‘offensive’ programs. Insiders say the loss will rock right-wing talk radio.

This latest controversy comes at a particularly difficult time for right-wing talk radio. They are playing to a (sometimes literally) dying demographic. Rush & Co. rate best among old, white males. They have been steadily losing women and young listeners, who are alienated by the angry, negative, obsessive approach to political conservations.

Women ages 24–55 are the prize

advertising demographic, and you

have a perfect storm emerging

after Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke

comments.

An additional irony: just as the technology-driven fragmentation of the landscape allowed partisan media to proliferate, a new technological development is providing the tools to take it down. Social media is making it possible to create a grassroots movement very quickly, voicing grievances very quickly and getting heard at the top of corporate headquarters.

“In the past, a letter, petition, or phone campaign took a few days to put together and longer to execute,” says Valerie Geller. “But now customers [listeners] can instantly rally using Facebook, Twitter, and instant messaging to make their displeasure with a client, product, or service known immediately. These movements can happen fast.”

When big money starts shifting, it is a sign of a deeper tide that is difficult to undo, even if you are an industry icon like Rush Limbaugh. It is a sign that the times are changing. Let’s hope that what emerges is an evolution of the industry, away from stupid, predictable, and sometimes hateful hyperpartisanship and toward something a little smarter and more civil.

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