Last week it was announced that Rush Limbaugh had signed a nearly $400 million contract to go through the year 2016.
Now I am no big Rush fan, but for those of you outside of the crazy world of radio I am going to let you in on the "inside" of this stuff and how it has and does affect those of us IN the business.
Back in 1988 when Rush first went Nationwide, AM radio was dying a very quick death. FM was firmly established and with CD players still fairly new, listening to crystal clear stereo music was what the people wanted. Who wants to hear mono, crackly music on AM?
Radio station owners were desperately seeking a way out of this mess. "What to program?"
Along came Rush. Now there were talk shows before, but nothing like this. It was new, refreshing, in your face and utterly Conservative.
Rush Limbaugh Saved AM Radio. With he and then the "clones" that followed him, AM now had something to sell and to market to the public and it worked.
Those who worked in AM radio though, found it to be a double edged sword.
If you owned an AM station, why would you pay, say Bill Post, to do a morning show, when you can have El Rushbo for the price of just playing his National Commercials at certain times of the day, and it came right off of your satellite receiver?
Boom, out go all the "deejays" and local hosts. The salespeople still have jobs, the traffic person (the one who schedules the commercials to play) and the engineer still have jobs, but not the air talent.
Now, in 2008, FM faces a similar dilemma. Nearly all of the radio you may listen to is canned. Meaning it comes from somewhere outside of the station via satellite or it is "pre-recorded" what we call "voicetracking".
No more "deejays".
AM is still doing alright, but FM is now hurting. With IPods, Satellite radio and other ways to receive music, FM is trying to figure out what to do.
So, now you know why a person like me hangs onto whatever little shred of "radio" they can hang onto.
Rush saved AM radio but in the process, he killed our talent pool. I was thinking, along with several other very talented "former" radio people, just how many jobs could have been provided for $400 million! Some of us are actually more entertaining then Rush. It is sad that America has allowed itself to be taken to a place where they can only listen to A GUY rather than the days when we all looked to radio as a place for information and entertainment
Hope he enjoys the money.
End of whine sessions. The Cheese section begins shortly.