The Sound of 141 Advertisers Fleeing

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 12 2012 3:15 PM

The Sound of 141 Advertisers Fleeing

The Premiere Radio Networks memo that ThinkProgress has found and published suggests that the Limbaugh advertiser exodus has reached triple digits. In the best business take I've read about the whole mess, David Frum floats a theory of Limbaugh's survival.

[E]ven more than the total size of the audience, radio advertisers care about a measure called TSL: time spent listening. The people who listen longest are of course the most ideologically intense.
Here’s how this operates in the real world. Limbaugh knows that his share of big markets like Dallas or Atlanta has dropped from his old 5 percent in any given hour to, say, 3 percent. But if he can entice that 3 percent to listen twice as long, he can more than make up the loss.
That imperative explains why Limbaugh kept talking about Sandra Fluke for so long. He was boosting his TSL to compensate for his dwindling market share. Few things boost TSL like getting the old folks agitated over how much sexy sex these shameless young hussies are having nowadays.

As long as Limbaugh is on terrestrial radio, when does this stop being true? Frum's bullish on Mike Huckabee's new radio show; I wonder if he's washed Huckabee's TV show, which can be counted on to produce the mildest, least compelling 60 minutes on Fox News each week. (Unless you're a huge fan of bass solos.) I'm skeptical that Limbaugh can't come back because exile is rarely the reaction to someone who says sexist or controversial things. Your exhibit: Bill Maher, the comedian/host that conservative women keep citing as proof that liberals will excuse sexist taunts if they're coming at Sarah Palin.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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