When WIBC dumps Limbaugh, can the Rapture be far behind?
Okay, enough snark. But think about it: over the past 2-3 years, Limbaugh has steadily hemorrhaged sponsors and audience. Is it possible that sanity is reasserting itself in America?
For years, the Limbaugh product–what has been called “hate radio”–has coarsened American political discourse, mainstreamed racism, sexism and homophobia, elevated labeling and name-calling, and generally made incivility acceptable. After Rush attacked Sandra Fluke, however, calling her a slut for testifying to Congress about the importance of birth control coverage, a widespread public revulsion generated a coordinated response aimed at getting him off the air.
Nice people had had enough, and the “Flush Rush” movement began; it has steadily gained momentum.
Flush Rush has been so successful, in fact, that business publications have been running articles like “What Brands Can Learn from the Flush Rush Movement.” Time Magazine writer Brian Rosenwald (who is doing his PhD dissertation on talk radio) explains that the end came when it was no longer possible to keep hateful rhetoric “in the family,” that is, to limit its range to the “ditto heads” and faithful listeners.
[Radio] Hosts’ words far more easily reach non-listeners than they did 25 years ago. Indeed, a show’s actual audience need not be bothered for comments to cause trouble. Campaigns against a host can build over time, and social media makes it easy to pressure station management and advertisers. In fact, the provocative, unpredictable content that produces the best talk radio fits poorly with an advertiser-based business model in the Internet and social media era. This problem may eventually drive the content provided by Limbaugh and his peers to an internet-based subscription platform, where hosts do not have to worry about losing advertisers when they generate controversy.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Internet subscriptions providing him with a lucrative “out”–most of Rushbo’s listeners are well over 65 years of age, and my guess is, most of them are still trying to figure out how to use email. When the angry old white guys die off, that will be the end of Rush, hate radio, and Faux News.
Evidently, when people–be they celebrities or elected officials–who have occupied an echo chamber of True Believers suddenly have their message broadcast beyond the confines of that insular and diminishing community, they lose altitude rather quickly.
If you don’t believe me, ask Governor Pence.