One year ago, Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke on national radio. Now he may have to find a new home for his show.
One year after calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” on national radio, Rush Limbaugh may finally face the consequences. Due to friction with his parent company Cumulus, Limbaugh is considering leaving his longtime radio home WBAC, the Daily News reported Sunday.
According to a source close to the show, Limbaugh was annoyed with comments made by Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey, who said the company is still feeling a “residual hangover” from Limbaugh’s remarks about Fluke last February. In an August 2012 earnings call, Dickey said the boycott of Limbaugh’s show cost the company $5.5 million. In March of this year, Lew mentioned in another earnings call that Cumulus’ radio division “had been challenged…due to some of the issues that happened a year ago.”
Cumulus Media has made no suggestion that they are trying to push Limbaugh out, but the talk show host’s contract with WBAC (owned by Cumulus) is up at the end of 2013, and Limbaugh may choose to walk away over the feud.
A year ago, Sandra Fluke testified in Congress in favor of mandating employers to include contraceptive care in health insurance plans. After the conservative blogosphere skewered Fluke in a few articles–with such headlines as “Sex-crazed co-eds going broke buying birth control, student tells Pelosi hearing touting freebie mandate”–Limbaugh entered into the conversation:
“What does it say about the college co-ed ‘Susan’ Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.”
The reaction to and subsequent boycott of Limbaugh’s remarks prompted more than one hundred advertisers to abandon his popular radio show. The companies who left included Geico, Sears, Netflix, John Deere, Capitol One and the New York Lottery.
“What we’re going to do is replace those that leave,” Limbaugh said on his show after the boycott. “Those that no longer want access to you, those advertisers who no longer want your business, fine. We’ll replace them. It’s simple really.”
But it seems making up for lost revenue wasn’t as easy as Limbaugh predicted. Dickey maintains that the company was “hit pretty hard by this,” and that Cumulus lost “a couple of million” in the first and second quarters of 2012. In that period of time, Dickey estimates 1% of a 3.5% revenue loss was due to Limbaugh.
Limbaugh-supporters deny Dickey’s claims, saying that other Cumulus talk shows are underperforming while Limbaugh’s remains the highest rated in the country. “It’s a very serious discussion, because Dickey keeps blaming Rush for his own revenue problems,” a Limbaugh show source told Politico’s Dylan Beyers.
It’s unclear what Limbaugh will do next, but if he leaves his current home, 40 Cumulus-owned radio stations across the country will not be able to broadcast his show.