Rush Limbaugh’s contract is about to expire. The famous talking head may be nearing the end of his long, powerful reign as the most popular of the extreme right-wing AM radio personalities. Limbaugh’s pulpit was such that he was considered to be a kingmaker (and a dethroner) of Republican politicians. But now with his ratings way down, his audience aging and his support from advertisers significantly diminished, his chances of signing another $400-million contract are thought to be close to zero. Part of his problem goes back to his outrageous comments in 2012 concerning Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who addressed a congressional committee about insurance coverage for birth control pills. He called her a slut and a prostitute and continued to excoriate her for three days. He was widely condemned by almost everyone including Republican leaders. He issued a self-serving apology, but scores of advertisers quit his program.
With more bill-payers seeing Limbaugh as toxic, a continuing campaign to get him off the air, and the financial straits of iHeart Media (formerly Clear Channel Communications) who own iHeart radio, Limbaugh’s employer, there may be no appetite to renew with him. (iHeart is reportedly on the verge of a $20 billion bankruptcy.) There is an irony, too, in that the near demise of iHeart is due to a leveraged takeover deal gone extremely sour that was engineered by Bain Capital, the former firm of Mitt Romney. Rush might now try satellite radio that does not depend on advertisers, but that’s not where his aging audience is.