Limbaugh's Real Audience

03.06.12

20 Million Limbaugh Listeners? Hardly.

rush-limbaugh-audience

Andrew Sullivan posted a letter today from a reader disputing the oft-heard statistic of 20 million Rush Limbaugh listeners. In terms of actual human beings with addresses and voting registrations, the true number is probably quite far south of 2 million—and dropping fast.

Tim Mak now of Politico did the reporting at the old FrumForum site about how talk radio hosts were trapped and forced to compete for a constantly shrinking audience:

According to Scott Fybush, the proprietor of North East Radio Watch, talk radio has lost 30-40% of its ad revenues over the past two years.

Further, in an interview with a talk radio trade publication, Talkers Magazine, late last year, Talk Radio Networks CEO Mark Masters said: “2008 will be known as the year that weak syndicated programs began dying off in droves,” adding that “it has only just begun.”
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One of the most civil voices in talk radio, Michael Medved, explains the economic pressure upon the industry. He told NewMajority: “In this [economic] environment, you have something of a push to be outrageous, to be on the fringe, because what you’re desperately competing for is… P-1 listeners [those who tune in most frequently]. The percentage of people on the fringe who are P-1s is quite high,” he explained. As a result, talk radio hosts are feeling more pressure than usual to yell harder, scream louder, and insult further. Talk shows “are fighting for an ever- smaller pie, [which means that] you’ve got to be even louder about it because you’re trying to get the attention of an ever-smaller niche,” said Medved.