In case you missed it in because of all the attention given to the Rio Olympics, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh recently ended months of speculation by signing a new four-year deal with iHeart Media, which owns his syndicator, the Premier Radio Networks.
Interestingly, no financial details were revealed.
Limbaugh was believed to be in line for a huge pay cut because of declining advertiser revenue due to boycotts and the fact his audience is aging.
His show’s long-term viability also will depend on how many affiliates like WBEN-AM find him financially worthwhile over the term of the deal.
Greg Ried, who runs all local Entercom stations, said WBEN has two more years on its contract with Limbaugh.
“We are still under contract and don’t have any changes planned,” he wrote in an email.
He didn’t directly answer a follow-up email question on whether the program would be renewed beyond two years.
“Two years is a long time from now,” wrote Ried. “There were very few apps two years ago. Netflix was for movies only, and a lot more newspapers were still in business.”
“There is no way to tell what we'll do in two years,” added Ried.
According to sources, Entercom has experienced the same advertiser difficulties selling Limbaugh’s program locally as several other stations that carry his show have nationally. WBEN carries Limbaugh from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Limbaugh isn’t the same ratings powerhouse locally that he has been in the past, which suggests Entercom will take a tougher stand in future negotiations.
In the last winter book measuring weeks in January, February and March, Limbaugh’s program share is down about 14 percent in age 12 plus, 16 percent in the age 25-54 category and 5 percent in the older age 35-64 demographic from the 2015 winter book.
While we are on the subject of Entercom stations, my note Sunday that former WGR reporter Joe Buscaglia, who now is at Channel 7, has 61,000 Twitter followers, led some media people to suggest that WGR personnel buys Twitter followers since they have so many more of them than most locals in the media.
According to their Twitter profiles, Jeremy White has about 57,000 followers, Sal Capaccio has about 41,000, Howard Simon about 33,000, Mike Schopp 31,000, Chris Parker 21,000 and Brian Koziol has 14,000. By comparison, Channel 2’s Adam Benigni has about 12,000, and Channel 4’s Josh Reed and Tom Martin and Channel 2’s Heather Prusak each have about 3,000.
Ried denied that WGR buys followers and explained the station has advantages over other media.
“You have to remember a good portion of WGR's audience is 18-34 who are very active in social media,” wrote Ried. “Twitter is definitely a sports engine. That combined with the WGR personalities pushing out some great content. I don't think being the flagship of Bills and Sabres hurts either. The other media audiences tend to be very old comparatively. Brian Koziol is the Sabres postgame host. We do not buy nor is there any company following policy."
Ried also helped clear up some confusion about how often its new late-night program, “Beyond Reality Radio,” airs. It is co-hosted by Jason Hawes of Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters” and JV Johnson. The program, which includes discussions of ghosts, UFOs and other unexplained things, is carried on nine other Entercom stations in the country along with WBEN.
Ried said it airs four nights a week – “Monday-Thursday nights or Tuesday to Friday mornings depending on how you look at it.”
That’s the reality.