The Mighty Limbaugh Has Struck Out: What Limbaugh Being Dropped From KFI Means

Clear Channel owns both KFI (perhaps the largest radio station west of the Mississippi, broadcasting from Los Angeles and reaching much of California and Nevada) and KTLK (a radio backwater, also based in LA, with a very narrow signal range, barely reaching beyond LA County into Orange County).

So what does it mean that Clear Channel executives, as of January 20th, 2014, are dropping Rush Limbaugh from KFI and putting him on KTLK instead?

It means that Limbaugh is no longer considered a broad cultural phenomenon, but a niche cultural phenomenon. In other words, Clear Channel executives appraise the white and Baby Boom far-right to be trending down–and the radio they enjoy trending down with it.

Is right-wing radio still profitable in its niche? Yes.

Is it sufficiently profitable to draw listeners beyond its declining niche market? No.

So the executives at Clear Channel are done. That’s why Limbaugh is being dropped from KFI.

The analogy is with Michael Jackson–not the singer, but the liberal radio host at KABC in Los Angeles from 1966 to 1997. Here’s Wikipedia on the downward trajectory of his career:

Jackson continued to be successful into the 1980s, but radio was changing. […] Rush Limbaugh was Jackson’s competitor, on the air at crosstown KFI, and Rush had little difficulty defeating the veteran KABC talk show host. KABC’s management ultimately felt Jackson’s style no longer fit with the modern “in your face” talk shows, the vast majority of which were conservative. On July 3, 1997, Jackson did his last daily talk show for KABC, to the chagrin of his fans and a number of critics. […] The timing was especially bad given that Jackson had just won an award as “Radio Talk Show Host of the Year” from the Los Angeles Times. He was moved to weekends and ultimately let go in November 1998, after more than 32 years with KABC.

Michael Jackson, in other words, was washed out by a broad demographic force: post-WWII Baby Boomers trending conservative.

Likewise, Limbaugh is being washed out by a broad demographic force: Millenials trending liberal. This means, for example, that there are more white collar women and gay friendly professionals in drive-time.

So what was once Micheal Jackson’s career trajectory is now Limbaugh’s. The country is changing. He’s not. There is no joy in Teaville. The mighty Limbaugh has struck out.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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5 Responses to The Mighty Limbaugh Has Struck Out: What Limbaugh Being Dropped From KFI Means

  1. laura says:

    Well, not soon enough if you ask me.

  2. R7 Rocket says:

    The talk radio hosts aren’t doing a good job of recruiting new and young talent.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am done with KFI.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No need to listen to KFI any more except on Sunday mornings for the Jesus Christ show.

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