WRKO Boston To Drop Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh 680 WRKO Boston #StopRush 1510 WMEX EntercomRush Limbaugh is once again to be on the outside looking in at Entercom Talk 680 WRKO Boston.

After losing Rush in 2010 to Clear Channels ill-fated “Rush Radio 1200” WXKS, Limbaugh returned to WRKO in August of 2012 following the demise of the competing Conservative Talker. With the three-year syndication agreement coming to a close Premiere Radio Networks and Entercom failed to come to terms on a contract renewal.

Premiere released the following statement today regarding the inability to come to terms:

We were unable to reach agreeable terms for The Rush Limbaugh Show to continue on WRKO. A final broadcast date will be announced in the near future. Rush Limbaugh airs daily in every measured media market in America, and we look forward to announcing exciting news for our Boston listeners soon.

WRKO is the second major Conservative Talker to announce plans to drop Limbaugh. Emmis’ 93.1 WIBC Indianapolis announced in April it will stop airing the program as of July 3.

The options for a new Boston affiliate for Limbaugh are slim. Blackstrap Broadcasting’s Brokered “Talk 1510” WMEX is the likeliest station to pick up the program.

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  1. anonymouscoward says

    Flip back to a music format perhaps for RKO?

  2. Charles Everett says

    Entercom needs the money for its Boston Red Sox contract, which is also up for renewal.

  3. Autodyne says

    I wonder if this isn’t a good opportunity for some of the suburban AMs that carry/carried Howie to grab some more listeners. The smaller surrounding AMs thrived when Limbaugh started out and some major market talkers didn’t yet carry him. And their carriage fees (and debt load) are presumably lower than a WRKO.

  4. johndavis says

    Wouldn’t Premiere have the option to put the show back on 1200? Better to put the show on your own brokered AM than paying someone else for the time.

    1. Charles Everett says

      AM 1200 is leased to Bloomberg for its Financial News format. I seriously doubt Bloomberg would break format for a 3-hour political talk show while US stock markets are open.

  5. Joseph_Gallant says

    Could WBZ-1030 drop all-news in mid-day hours to air talk??

    ‘BZ could pick-up a syndicated show or launch a local show from 9 or 10 A.M. to 12 Noon, then air Rush from Noon to 3.

    But on the other hand, I don’t think WBZ would want to replace news with talk on weekdays.

    While I think there’s a one-in-ten chance ‘BZ will drop news in early afternoon to air Rush, I think the more likely destination will be WMEX-1510.

    Premiere Networks may be so desperate for a Boston clearance that they might go with ‘MEX.

    Or, it’s also possible (and I think much more likely than Rush moving to either WBZ or WMEX) that Premiere will come crawling back to WRKO-680 so desperate that they will accept anything ‘RKO offers.

    1. Lance Venta says

      Rush is toxic to a station like WBZ. It’s more like a one in a million chance CBS picks him up for WBZ. His brand is no longer large enough in many markets to bring listeners along with him as the 1200 failure showed in Boston, nor would CBS want to get WBZ’s audience older and so niched in a mindset.

    2. Nathan Obral says

      I don’t see Rush returning to WRKO again in any sense of the word. This sounded like a “goodbye for good” move.

      WMEX – even with their turbulent, unstable recent history – is really the only option available for Premiere and Rush to maintain a clearance in the market. That says a lot.

      1. raccoonradio says

        It was announced today that WMEX will have a new morning drive show with Joe Ligotti,ex WTKK a gravel voiced regular guy type.It was said Daly XXL of Wilmington NC is LMA-ing the station with intent to purchase;last yr at the same time Wallis was announced as LMA with intent to purchase (instead that fell apart a couple months ago).

  6. Beachguy says

    It’s great to see analysis as opposed to hate/emotion-laden posts on the topic. Bravo to those who preceded this post. Nicely done.

  7. Autodyne says

    {Joseph_Gallant: Or, it’s also possible (and I think much more likely than Rush moving to either WBZ or WMEX) that Premiere will come crawling back to WRKO-680 so desperate that they will accept anything ‘RKO offers.}

    I’m starting to wonder if Premiere is going to change their negotiation tactics now to stem the erosion. In Pittsburgh, Rush is on a marginal leased AM signal with an out-of-market morning show, and in several markets, Premiere’s own stations haven’t gained traction with their talk lineups. But with iHeart’s debt situation, allowing a compromise in even one significant market might start an avalanche across the board, which they probably can’t afford to risk.

    1. johndavis says

      One might say that the avalanche started with WIBC and KFI. If the show no longer delivers enough value for what Premiere is charging for it, then the decision to go live and local and keep your inventory is an easy call.

      There was a time when the Premiere rep could strike fear into an affiliate’s heart by threatening to pull Rush. WRKO, having had the program pulled once, failed across the street, and then given back to them knows that the sky won’t fall if they walk away from a bad deal. Part of it is the cash, and the other part is the state of the show’s demos. What’s in it for them to give up cash and inventory?

      It’s no secret that Rush’s audience is God’s waiting room today. The 45 year old man who dug his act in 1995 is 65 now, and today’s 45 year old is more likely to tune to sports talk than political talk because political talk radio is speaking to that man’s parents and not him.

      If you’re looking at the long haul, you need to evolve or die. When the GM of WIBC is talking about introducing talk radio to people who don’t listen to the format and showing that person that talk radio doesn’t sound like what they think it is, this is precisely what he’s getting at. It’s no different from the beautiful music stations of old who flipped to AC… who have since dropped the Streissand records for Kelly Clarkson. At some point you have to let go of your old audience and find one you can make better money with.

      And if IHeart’s own KFI is performing better in the demo than Rush on KEIB while keeping its inventory in middays for itself, then well, iHeart kind of gave everyone the blueprint for how to move forward, didn’t they?

  8. bill1820 says

    This is a sign that broadcast companies like Entercom will not want to pay high prices to iHeart’s Premiere for Rush in the future. Case in point, CBS talker WTIC in Hartford recently dropped afternoon political talk for sports, and eliminated the news director’s position. I assume CBS will negotiate hard during the next renewal negotiations.

  9. tdotoutlayer says

    This really isn’t the first time that Rush Limbaugh/Premiere Radio Networks’ high rights fees for The Rush Limbaugh Show has resulted in a non-renewal of a contract. I must say that continual playback of the broken “Democrat bad, Republican good” mantra doesn’t exactly represent good value for the money or help retain audiences in these turbulent times for the industry. There exist many other better and more compelling examples of talk radio programming out there.

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