most important talk show hosts
Tue Apr 18 10:54:03 EDT 2006


Whether you like the guy or not, Rush Limbaugh is clearly the most 
influential talk host of the modern era.  I came into talk radio in 1989 at 
WHDH in Boston.  At that time the business was all over the map, with shows 
like Sally Jesse Raphael and Bruce Williams and Larry King still the most 
recognized names in syndication.  While those of us working in big markets 
could be more than satisfied with the talent we could array against each 
other, for smaller markets syndicated talk was just a way to fill some 
programming time.  Then Rush came along.  Small market stations could now 
put something on the air that could generate ratings and revenue, not just 
fill time.

In the end, Rush became dominant because he put on an entertaining product 
that worked from Bakersfield to Peoria to Boston.  He led the way, and 
others followed.  The consequences have not all been good.  While Rush 
helped create opportunities for many issue-oriented hosts to get into 
syndication, he also helped to change the character of small market talk 
radio.  It now became easier to go the syndication route (althought this 
process would probably have gone foward anyway, driven by marketplace 

I would argue that the reality of talk radio across America today has been 
shaped in no small measure by Rush Limbaugh, which makes him the most 
influential talk host of our time, both in terms of the issues he talks 
about on the air, and his mere presence as part of the industry.

Dan Pierce
Small Market PD/Talk Host - WGIR-AM, Manchester, NH
Big Market Producer/Talk Host - WHDH, WBZ, Boston, MA
Medium Market Talk Host (from time-to-time, when they will have me) - 
WPRO-AM, Providence, RI
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Donna Halper" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 5:20 PM
Subject: most important talk show hosts

> Folks, this is NOT an ideological question.  I've been asked to do a 
> journal article (this is for an academic journal) about the most 
> influential talk show hosts (past or present).  I don't care about their 
> politics-- this isn't about their politics.  It's about their influence, 
> their following, how they changed the genre.  So, who do you consider to 
> be the most important, most worthy of being remembered for their impact on 
> talk radio?  They can be right wing, left wing, secular, religious, you 
> tell me, but just give me one-- or two at most, and your reason for 
> choosing the person(s).  Your opinions are appreciated, and I don't need 
> to quote you unless you want to be quoted.

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