Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT
How low can Rush Limbaugh go in Los Angeles?
The syndicated talker, who for two decades has been universally regarded as the most popular and powerful AM talker in the country, continues to wallow in obscurity in the nation's second largest radio market. According to recently released ratings from Nielsen Audio, Limbaugh's California flagship station, KEIB, now ranks 39th in the Los Angeles market, attracting an anemic .5 ratings share. (A ratings share represents the percent of those listening to radio in the market who are tuned into a particular station.)
The tumble to 39th place represents yet another downward lurch -- in March the station logged in at 37th place. Note that there are a total of 45 rated stations in the Los Angeles market, which means Limbaugh's KEIB station (the call letters mirror Limbaugh's motto, "Excellence in Broadcasting") has nearly reached the ratings basement.
And yes, Limbaugh's syndicator, Clear Channel-owned Premier Networks, pays the talker $50 million a year.
The April ratings come in the wake of a disastrous winter for Limbaugh in key California markets. As Media Matters recently noted, Clear Channel moved Limbaugh off his longtime Los Angeles home, KFI, and made him the centerpiece of an all-conservative talk radio lineup on KEIB, where Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck are also heard.
As of April, KEIB not only ranks 39th in the Los Angeles market, but it trails 12 non-English stations and four college outlets. Meanwhile, 10th-rated KFI's ratings remain strong in the wake of Limbaugh's departure from the station. In the past, stations that lost Rush from their lineup often saw steep declines in listenership. He served as the programming tent pole. No more.
The ratings news continues to be nearly as bad up the California coast in San Francisco, the nation's fourth largest radio market. There, as in Los Angeles, Clear Channel moved Limbaugh on the AM dial, from KKSF to KNEW, and dubbed the station "The Patriot." After four months of Limbaugh's show anchoring KNEW, the station's minuscule ratings have actually gone down in 2014, from .8 in January to .6 in April.