Glad tidings!


I laugh. Rush Limbaugh’s Ratings Are In a State Of Complete Collapse.

Rush Limbaugh’s claim to radio fame has always been that he is a right wing talker who brings big ratings to major markets in blue states, but this isn’t the case anymore. Since he moved to Clear Channel his ratings in the nation’s two largest markets have nosedived. Rush Limbaugh went from having the number one talk show in Los Angeles to falling down to 37th place in the ratings. In New York, Limbaugh has dropped from fifth in the city to 22nd. His audience is now so small in both markets that he is being outdrawn by Spanish language stations and NPR.

Ouch, bit of a slap at NPR there, too. But still, his market is tiny and insignificant, which is a good thing.

The article talks a bit about how advertisers are running away from him, but that wouldn’t explain his fading popularity — no one tunes into a show to hear the advertisements. It’s all about his declining demographic.

The answer for why Limbaugh’s show is dying can be found in demographics. Rush’s average listener is 66 years old. Younger people aren’t turning on their radios to listen to Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, and Savage. Their audience mirrors that of the Republican Party. It’s white, conservative, and male.

His audience consists of the people in the market for viagra and oxycontin, that is. Which tells you where Limbaugh should turn for more advertising dollars — he’s like a great floating blimp with acres of white space perfect for promoting penis pills, rather than Goodyear tires.


  1. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    What this means is that L*mb**gh’s audience is literally dying and no younger people, no matter what political affiliation, are replacing them. Call him a relic of conservative baby boomer populism.

  2. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    If I believed for one second it would be true, I’d be hoping that the death of talk radio would mean a resurgence of music on AM. But instead it’ll just likely mean the death of AM.

    /sad radio dork

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Typically, this sort of popularity slide produces comeback attempts in the form of ever-more-provocative accusations and other rantings, which liberal/left media then amplify for the sake of eye-rolling and finger-pointing.

    However, I haven’t seen any of that (about Limbaugh; the general pattern persists regarding Beck and numerous others) in the last few years. Do we have a case of the ignore-’em-&-they’ll-go-away strategy actually working here?

  4. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    Sorry, UnknownEric, but why would I listen to commercial terrestrial music stations when I can curate my own internet music stations?

  5. latveriandiplomat says

    I’m not sure that talk radio isn’t doomed anyway, but surely Clear Channel hastened the decline by pushing a conservatives-only slate of programs.

    Stephanie Miller has a series of stories about her program being bumped from specific stations in favor of conservative talkers who then get a zero rating.

    I’m always suspicious that the low ratings for public broadcasting (both radio and TV) are a product of tinkering, because the people who collect ratings are in the business of pricing ad time. They don’t like stations with no commercial slots to price and sell.

    (I know there is corporate underwriting in public broadcasting, but that is a separate thing that the rating services don’t get a piece of).

  6. metalsheep says

    So catering exclusively to old, straight, white, ultra conservatives while insulting everyone else isn’t a sustainable business model? I guess I should rethink my store selling Brandishin’ Canes(tm) to shake at those darn whippersnappers.

  7. Francisco Bacopa says

    Just want to remind everyone that AM radio isn’t going to die. When I scan the local AM range I hear plenty of Spanish, though most of that has moved to FM around here. And there’s also Arabic, Portuguese, and Mandarin. Sadly, the Polish, Czech, and Cajun French stations of my youth are gone.

  8. coragyps says

    If God had intended that we listen to talk radio, he would not have given us the electric guitar.

  9. latveriandiplomat says

    From a technological standpoint, AM is pretty terrible, and the bandwidth could be used in better ways.

    The main reason AM survived the invention of FM was the feud between David Sarnoff and Edwin Armstrong. (Which Armstrong and his FM network lost, sadly).

  10. says

    I would argue that having a crackpot like Limbaugh on the right is a net asset for all except the Republican party establishment. Having someone so loud and so blissfully unaware of his own political isolation on most issues makes everyone on the right look bad.

  11. bluebottle says

    Long time lurker here. Long enough to know it probably wasn’t the intent but that blimp crack might be seen as a fat joke.

    I know that wasn’t he intent so I will relurk now and celebrate the decline of another RW crackpot.

  12. Menyambal says

    The last time that I encountered a Limbaugh fan was fifteen years ago. It was some old coot hillbilly loudly proclaiming that Rush was his idol. So, yeah, fitted all the stereotypes and maybe no longer able to hear a radio, now.

    But there are plenty of rightwing talkers left. Rush has a legacy. (And probably money in the bank, and the audience to make a bit more.)

  13. HidariMak says

    My apologies if this has already been posted under a different Pharyngula thread, but here’s a link to a Rush Limbaugh song. I imagine that people are busy refilling the gasbag with the campaign races going on though, unfortunately.

  14. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Sorry, UnknownEric, but why would I listen to commercial terrestrial music stations when I can curate my own internet music stations?

    Because I’m old, and I still get excited when I hear a song I like come on the radio. ;)

  15. raven says

    The answer for why Limbaugh’s show is dying can be found in demographics. Rush’s average listener is 66 years old.

    The average Fox NoNews viewer is older than that, 68.

    This is true of a lot of churches too. The average age of my parent’s church is probably around 70. There are no young people at all.

  16. azpaul3 says

    Megadittos, El Rushbo!

    Dittos and dittos and dittos all the way down the popularity charts.

    And, yes, I take the great floating blimp comment as an intentional reference to us adipose-enhanced denizens of society. Note that PZ himself is not quite adipose-challenged.

    Regardless, I skillfully avoid falling into what seems to have become in American culture an obligatory over-sensitivity anguish hole and have a good hearted chuckle at the vision of a great white blimp embellished with limp members stoned out of their gourds floating over the republican national convention. Whadda sight!

  17. Rich Woods says

    @raven #20:

    This is true of a lot of churches too. The average age of my parent’s church is probably around 70.

    It’s sometimes said that the UK is 20 years behind the US, that what develops in some aspects of American culture will eventually end up here (negative campaigning in politics is a good example).

    You provide a fine example of where the cultural exchange works in the opposite direction, though. Here, the average age of church attendance is only kept as low as 70 by the population of the surrounding graveyard…

  18. Doubting Thomas says

    I thought he was moving to Costa Rica. Not that I’d wish that on my Tico friends. I was just there and didn’t see any welcome Mushface banners.

  19. magistramarla says

    I signed the petition called Flush Rush over at Daily Kos a long time ago. As I understand it, there are volunteers in most communities who are listening to his shows, noting the local advertisers and then inundating them with mail complaining about their sponsorship of Limbaugh. It seems to be working – bwahahahaha.

  20. says

    That was intended as an advertising joke, not a fat joke. I can be touchy about those, too.

    Also, hasn’t he lost a lot of weight recently?

  21. anteprepro says

    From September:

    March 15 article:

    On Talk Radio in general:

    Most recent actual ratings among top talk radio programs (Rush still at the top of that market segment):

    And a relevant article regarding Limbaugh and radio ratings:

    Overall, Limbaugh is still falling, as is most of talk radio, though there is no real remarkable recent development in that story.

  22. llewelly says


    The average Fox NoNews viewer is older than that, 68.

    Wait a minute. The article is 1 year old, but in that time, they’ve gotten 2 years older? That’s a serious demographic problem.

  23. Radium Coyote says

    The medium of radio itself is becoming obsolete. Norway itself is leading the way in getting rid of FM radio, which honestly seems like it will be mostly gone by 2020. The age when other people dictate the schedule by which you read, listen to, or watch things is pretty much over.

    Cable TV and Talk Radio are the province of old people, and they have habit of dying off sooner than later.

  24. chigau (違う) says

    Radium Coyote
    Cable TV and Talk Radio are the province of old people, and they have habit of dying off sooner than later.
    Very cute.
    Define ‘old’.
    Describe how you plan to not become ‘old’.

  25. Matrim says

    @chigau, 29

    I use the blood of the unborn mostly, though you need quite a lot of it so it isn’t terribly efficient.

    I get where their comment slants agist, and there’s probably a more respectful way to describe the phenomenon, but (getting to the heart of their point) I suspect that they are probably right. Admittedly, I have no data to back this up, and would be really interested in seeing some. I’m in my 30’s, and nobody in my circle of peers watches broadcast TV, and radio exists only as a supplement for music when your phone or other digital device isn’t available. All the stuff we’d normally get from TV or radio we get from podcasts, streaming services, and other on-demand ways. I’d be interested in seeing what the average age of a regular radio listener (not a listener of any specific program) is.

  26. Al Dente says

    I listen to radio in my car. It’s easier than sticking a CD in the player or hooking up an MP4 device to the car’s audio system.

  27. kevinalexander says

    Well, the younger demographic may not be tuning in Bush Limburger but they’re not voting either. How else to explain the Republican Congress?

  28. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    I also tend to listen to the radio in my car for similar reasons to Al Dente, I even tend to listen to AM since the FM channels are largely very commercial and even the one that plays music I like is interrupted regularly for commercials for ‘cosmetic medicine’ and ‘lemon detox diets’ after which I change channel in disgust.

    So mostly I listen to the Radio National or the local State station (from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which is on the whole so balanced that *both* sides of the political spectrum think it’s biased in the other direction from them).

    Today while driving I caught part of a program discussing the philosophy of free speech. (Consequentialist vs Natural Right approaches I think). Was quite interesting. And I quite like the evening phone in trivia quiz if I happen to catch it.

    As I understand it AM still exists, in spite of the quality being lesser because it can reach a much larger range than the FM without boosting stations.

  29. Anne Fenwick says

    I’d be laughing if it didn’t mean he’s been replaced by several dozen others doing the same thing, perhaps on different channels. And then there’s always the DIY option provided by Twitter.

  30. cjcolucci says

    Am I the on;ly one left who enjoyed listening to radio to learn about music I didn’t already know I liked?

  31. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    You might replace your car every few years Tige, not everyone does so. I’ve got a little portable thing that I could use for bluetooth connections, but then I’d have to spend time getting into the car working out what I want to listen to, finding somewhere to put my phone while it played and only ever listen to things I already have heard.

    To be honest there’s usually something worth listening to on the radio, and worst case I’ve got a CD with Ruby 3 on it to listen to when nothing else appeals.

  32. caseloweraz says

    One data point: I remember driving alone across Texas (this was years ago; I think it was 1994) and finding no FM stations close enough to listen to for more than a few minutes before they faded. That left AM, and all the stations carried Limbaugh’s show. Suffice it to say that was a long drive.

    It would be interesting to do that drive again and see if things are different. (One thing seems certain: I’d find a lot more Spanish on AM.)

  33. Al Dente says

    Tige Gibson @34

    Cars these days all have bluetooth phone connections.

    My car came with bluetooth. I let the subscription lapse because I never used it.

  34. jste | cogito ergo violence says

    ‘Bluetooth’ doesn’t have a subscription…

    My recollection is somewhat hazy, but wasn’t there some roadside assistance program or something or other called bluetooth at one point?

    As awesome as new cars having built-in bluetooth is, lots of us drive older cars. My car’s radio is built in to the dash in a way that makes replacing it all but impossible (to do neatly or well, at any rate), and can’t even handle MP3s, so I’m glad FM radio at least isn’t dying off in the near future.

  35. jodyp says

    The younger generation has its Totalbiscuits and Thunderfoots when they want unabashed regressive bigotry.

  36. arthur says

    I spotted four more smears-and-hateful-defamatory-rhetoric against broadcaster Rush Limbaugh in this article.

    Michael Nugent shall be informed in due course.

  37. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    His audience is now so small in both markets that he is being outdrawn by Spanish language stations…

    The irony is as delicious as the schadenfreude.

  38. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Am I the on;ly one left who enjoyed listening to radio to learn about music I didn’t already know I liked?


    It’s been over 10 years and I still miss John Peel.

  39. Georgia Sam says

    A little song I penned some years ago (with apologies to Chubby Checker):
    Every Limbaugh boy and girl
    All around the Limbaugh world
    Listens to the Limbaugh show
    It’s BS but they don’t know
    Rush be nimble, Rush be quick
    Throw another Limbaugh brick
    It’s OK if it’s untrue
    Dittoheads still follow you
    Believe that Limbaugh lie!
    You’ll be Limbaugh guy!
    How low can he go?

    OK, so I’m no Bob Dylan. So sue me.

  40. Georgia Sam says

    I forgot to mention the title of my little ditty. It’s “The Limbaugh Crock.”

  41. caseloweraz says

    Georgia Sam,

    Take it from someone who’s been known to do the same kind of thing: Your effort is pretty good.