Does anyone remember all that talk about Mike Huckabee taking away Rush Limbaugh’s audience with his “civil” new radio show? Perhaps a better question would be this: Did anyone even know the Huckster had a radio show before Bristol Palin gave him a well-deserved smack-down for his temper tantrum? No? You’re not alone. I had no idea he had a radio show either. Nor would I be interested in listening to it if I had. Apparently, though, there were those establishment types out there who wanted Huckabee to be the face of conservative radio. Why, you ask? Excellent question. I suspect it may have something to do with moderation and the Left’s definition of civility in this golden age of post-partisanship. More of that “new tone” stuff, I guess. But since Huck’s neither conservative nor interesting, I have no earthly idea why anyone could possibly think this would work.
Indeed the Huckster’s radio show appears headed to the same destination as Air America, though likely a bit quicker. Via the Radio Equalizer’s Brian Maloney:
With mainstream media expectations so high, Mike Huckabee’s new radio talk show was probably bound to disappoint. But newly-available hard data reveals a gaping donut hole where the audience should be.
It’s an ominous sign for Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS), Huck syndicator and new owner of ABC Radio’s largest AM legacy news-talk radio stations.
Widely touted as the “civil” answer to Rush Limbaugh’s regime-threatening political effectiveness, the former Arkansas governor became an establishment darling earlier this year when the talk titan got caught up in the Sandra Fluke controversy.
In addition to hundreds of other media outlets, The Wall Street Journal played up his chances of tackling Limbaugh with this fawning coverage:
“Mike Huckabee will pose the most formidable challenge to Limbaugh that I can remember from a conservative hosting in the same time slot and being backed by a major company,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers Magazine, a talk-radio trade journal.
But the strategy behind Huckabee’s new positioning has been flawed from the start: though “civil”, his delivery is generally regarded as stiff and dry. Weak performance has opened him up to ridicule from both left and right…
Maloney provides some ratings data to underscore his point:
- In San Francisco, where Mike’s heard on KSFO, Rush has a 143.4% larger overall audience.
- In Dallas, where Cumulus seeks to remove Limbaugh from his longtime home at WBAP, El Rushbo is CRUSHING the Huckster with eleven listeners for every one fried squirrel fan. Mike ranks 40th in the Metroplex.
- Portland Oregon: Rush’s ratings are 1444% higher. Huck ranks 27th there, heard on KUFO-AM.
- Salt Lake City: Rush beating Mike by 13900%. The latter ranks 40th at KKAT.
- Providence / New Bedford / Fall River: Huck stuck in 44th, Rush with 766% higher ratings.
- Jacksonville: Rush beats by 8500%, Huck takes 27th place.
Maloney has plenty more examples but you get the idea. He also notes that the trend for the Huckster’s audience is negative, meaning the few people who have bothered to listen to his show don’t come back. Shocking that. Maloney closes his piece with the following observation:
Radio execs cannot force listeners to tune into a bad program, no matter how hard they try. It’s a lesson they NEVER, ever seem to learn.
Great point. I think Bristol Palin hit the nail on the head:
I probably would just call Rush instead.
So, evidently, would everyone else. Maloney has a lot of great stuff in his piece and you really need to go here and read the whole thing. He also links to a couple of interesting pieces by Dan Riehl and Tim Graham on the Huckster’s predictable megaflop in the radio business.