In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told POLITICO on Sunday.
Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.
The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.
As industry insiders caution, Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to the brink before during contract negotiations only to resume talks. But the source told POLITICO that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution rights to a level that would satisfy Cumulus.
Another major win for Angelo Carusone, the Media Matters crusader who went after Glenn Beck's advertisers and got him off the air. He's been going after Rush and Hannity's advertisers, and without the ad revenue, Clear Channel is forced to raise rates on distributors. And they're not going to pay for a damaged product that could cost them listeners and advertisers to boot.
Hitting Hannity and Rush in the wallet has been the most effective strategy so far. We need to keep it up.