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'The Rush Limbaugh Show' Will Continue to Air Every Day for the Long Term

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How do you replace the irreplaceable?

Rush Limbaugh literally saved AM radio. At a time when an entire half of the radio spectrum was dying — dedicated to special-interest programming and musical genres that wouldn’t survive on the FM dial — Limbaugh’s arrival on the scene more than three decades ago changed the media landscape.

Limbaugh’s blend of politics, cultural bear-poking, humor and warmth created the conservative talk genre. He was the godfather of today’s conservative podcaster, an iconoclast’s iconoclast who laid out the hard truth that, no matter how hard personalities on the right may try, they’ll never be accepted into genteel liberal media circles.

For conservatives of a certain age — namely, mine — discovering Limbaugh on the radio dial as a kid was your entry into the conservative movement. This was especially true if you were the type who had to listen through headphones or turn off the radio quickly whenever your liberal parents walked in. (It probably wasn’t this way, but in my memory, it feels like my finger was always on the power button of my stereo’s remote whenever Rush’s talent on loan from God was playing, as softly as possible, from noon to three.)

So, how do you replace Limbaugh, who died from lung cancer at the age of 70 on Feb. 17?

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According to those who ran his show, you don’t.

In an email to The Western Journal, “The Rush Limbaugh Show” confirmed it would continue syndicating Limbaugh’s “timeless wisdom” on a long-term basis. Most stations that air the show nationally do so on weekdays, but rebroadcasts are also available on Saturdays and Sundays in some markets.

Premiere Networks, Limbaugh’s syndicator, had already been airing archived segments since his death, with guest hosts speaking between clips.

‘The Rush Limbaugh Show will continue to broadcast on the radio every day for the long term. With 120,000 hours of content from more than 30 years of his legendary show, Rush has addressed virtually every topic and issue of the day,” his show said in a statement.

Will you continue listening to Rush Limbaugh?

“All of his audio has been extensively archived and catalogued by subject, topic and opinion, and the familiar voices of Todd Herman, Ken Matthews and Brett Winterble guide Rush’s voice and valuable insights along with timely news and information.

“From immigration to the COVID-19 relief bill, to U.S. relations with China and much more, Rush’s timeless wisdom continues to be relevant to the national conversation of today’s top news stories.”

Michael Harrison, publisher of talk-radio trade magazine Talkers, told The Associated Press that Premiere’s decision is a sign that the archived shows aired so far haven’t  shown a noticeable decline in ratings. The Wall Street Journal reported last week the program had been “attracting about 75% to 80% of its regular audience, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

“No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush for the long term,” said Premiere Networks spokeswoman Rachel Nelson, according to the AP.

Harrison told the AP that any one radio personality who tried to replace Limbaugh would be facing a huge burden.

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That doesn’t mean some aren’t going to try.

Conservative podcaster Dan Bongino is arguably the highest-profile Rush replacement being touted, having taken over his three-hour slot on Westwood One stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., The Wall Street Journal reported.

Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and New York Police Department officer who ran for Congress unsuccessfully three times while on his way to becoming one of the most successful pundits in conservative media, has a Westwood One-produced podcast that regularly tops the charts.

The well-caffeinated Bongino, however, is a man who tends to appeal to a younger generation. Don’t get me wrong: He and Limbaugh would doubtlessly share a dinner table warmly and amicably, scarcely finding reason for disagreement. However, it’s difficult to see Rush ever declaring, as Bongino has, that “my entire life right now is about owning the libs.”

While a few months younger than Bongino, evangelical commentator Erick Erickson might be more in line with Limbaugh’s audience. He’ll be taking Rush’s 12-3 p.m. slot on WSB-AM in his native Atlanta. He also has a syndicated 9 a.m.-noon syndicated show and tweeted this is “not sustainable long term,” so one can reasonably guess that the 9-to-noon slot isn’t going to last.

Conservative commentator Dana Loesch, meanwhile, was one of the few syndicated conservative hosts who competed with Limbaugh in his time slot. The former spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association signed a three-year deal with her syndicator, Radio America, in the aftermath of Limbaugh’s death.

“I do feel that I’m well-positioned to fill the void,” Loesch told Axios. “I’ve been in this slot for years and if there’s any program positioned to do it, it’s mine.”

“When we did it, we were really one of the few to directly challenge him. In the markets where she did compete head to head with him, Dana has done very well over the last few years,” Radio America chief operating officer Mike Paradiso told Axios.

All three are likable and don’t deserve to have aspersions cast on them (I try to keep Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment — “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” — as best I can, although any time Mitt Romney says or does something especially cretinous, I’d like to think the Gipper would absolve me).

However, each has weaknesses as an aspirant to the throne.

Radio is a strictly verbal medium and Limbaugh’s rhetorical style, which was more scalpel-like than his critics ever gave him credit for, contrasts starkly with Bongino’s all-sledgehammer, all-the-time mentality.

Erickson and Loesch, however, don’t have the kind of mammoth digital following Bongino has — although Bongino, a major Parler investor, has left Twitter. Erickson in particular is only well-known in certain corners of the conservative sphere; consider his roughly 200,000 Twitter followers compared with Loesch’s 1.1 million or the 2.8 million Bongino had when he left the platform.

Erickson was also a vocal member of the NeverTrumper movement. When he endorsed the 45th president for re-election in 2019, Erickson told NPR it was because Trump “now has a record, and there’s a lot of it I don’t like, but there are good portions of it that I do.” To a conservative audience, where one’s reaction to Trump is often seen as a litmus test for credibility, that could be an issue.

In short, the best long-term replacement for Rush Limbaugh may be Rush Limbaugh, whose wisdom remains both timely and timeless. And the good news is, that wisdom will be heard for some time longer, at least in syndication.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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