Rush Limbaugh Owes Success to Giving His Show Away

Cross-posted from AOL’s Political Machine

Rush Limbaugh has only one thing in common with Savoir Faire: He is everywhere. When Boss Limbaugh brags of sixty jillion listeners nationwide, it’s not because they were attracted to him like moths to a brilliant flame, it’s because, well, he was there.

Bill Mann reports, at HuffPo, that Rush spread the seeds of his current roots long ago, and with a sales scheme that would makeCrazy Eddie, um, crazy:

This shocker is because of a little-known practice in broadcast syndication called a “barter deal.” (Barter deals were briefly mentioned in Michael Wolff’s first-rate recent piece on Rush in Vanity Fair).

Here’s how a barter deal works: To launch the show, Limbaugh’s syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks — the same folks who syndicate wingnut du jour Glen Beck — gave Limbaugh’s three hours away — that’s right, no cash — to local radio stations, mostly in medium and smaller markets, back in the early 1990’s.

So, a local talk station got Rush’s show for zilch. In exchange, Premiere took for itself much of the local station’s available advertising time (roughly 15 minutes an hour) and packed the show with national ads it had already pre-sold.

There’s a certain kind of beauty in this plan. It’s kind of like “socialized radio” if you think about it:Rush is the “government cheese” that these smaller and medium market stations use to fill the bellies of their listeners. The syndicator gets to control 3 hours of local radio in exchange, and Rush gets to blanket the country.

In a nutshell, Rush isn’t the best radio host, he’s the best radio host you can get for free.


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