Rush, ratings, popularity, and estimates

Bob Nelson
Sun Mar 8 09:24:07 EDT 2009

I won't link to any blogs or anything but each political side is making hay on whether or not Rush got a big
ratings boost. Michael Harrison of Talkers had to defend his statement about Rush getting a big bump in the...
nope, not ratings, _estimates_. Harrison said in a Washington Post article that they were indeed estimates
and that Talkers is not in the business of pushing ratings for anybody (that, I will link)

The article says it's tough to estimate actual ratings, and Harrison himself declares the state of
radio ratings as "embarrassing" and he adds his "estimate" was also based on talking to radio program
directors around the country. But what I was saying that in the past week he no doubt did get a big
bump in listenership due to the controversy, and that one would hope that it would attract more
listeners to talk radio of any political stripe (or even non-political for that matter). Good news,
given the economy and the state of _all_ radio. Even if in the short term...

I remember during the first Gulf War there was supposedly a spike in the sales of shortwave radios
since more people were interested in what was going on overseas. Talk radio may also have gotten
more listeners. The same (re: talk radio) happened after 9/11, when a lot of new listeners 'discovered' talk (one
host, Sean Hannity, actually began his national show on 9/10/01 and no doubt was strong right out
of the box due to interest in the subject. WRKO picked him up in Nov. of that year, I recall.)

But the Rush incident, if indeed he did pick up a lot of listeners last week, is also a sign of
what happens when some people tell you NOT to check something out, and yet many people do out of
curiosity. It happened when some controversial songs came out, and younger listeners flocked to
the forbidden fruit. I also remember when a movie based on the book The Last Temptation of
Christ came out; the Scorcese flick may have not done much in the box office but then may have
gotten an unexpected boost when some religious leaders condemned it. Who knows, though.

But even if Rush's bump in the ... "estimates"... is just temporary, I note that he is making
$50 million a year under his current contract (significantly more than the President. We'll
find out in 2012 if the President's contract also extends to an eight year period.)
Rush's doing quite well in that department at least. We'll see if talk radio overall gets a bump, too,
with all this controversy.

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