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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Titanic of Talk Radio?

Jeffrey Lord
Has an iceberg named Limbaugh already started to sink the Huckabee show?

Whatever happened to Mike Huckabee?

OK.

I confess, I never got the idea from the get go.

A political idea that is a regular loser in the political marketplace was being marketed as a sure-fire winner in talk radio. And marketed is an understatement about all of the hype that swirled around this particular radio launch.

To put names to this curious fantasy, the moderate Republican former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, was to take on Rush Limbaugh in a venture sponsored by the public company that is Cumulus Media.

Not since the Titanic sailed a hundred years ago amidst a public relations blowout about the ship's un-sinkability has there been such hype.

Uh-oh.

Let's remind of all the pre-launch hoopla for this venture that at the time we tagged as "RINO Radio" -- talk radio for Republicans in Name Only.

• On March 12, Media Matters reported on a media conference call by Cumulus, gloating in a headline: "Cumulus CEO: Limbaugh Firestorm 'Very Helpful' To New Huckabee Show" -- the "firestorm" in question a reference to the kerfuffle over Sandra Fluke.

• On March 12, the Daily Beast's favorite RINO David Frum  gushed on hearing the news that "Mike Huckabee Brings on Rush Limbaugh's Decline."

• On March 13, over on the web pages of Radio Ink, the  headlined story read that in the wake of the Fluke kerfuffle, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey "has been touting the [Huckabee] show as a replacement for Rush…"

• On March 18,  Newsmax headlined: "Huckabee Readies to take on Rush in Talk Radio Battle." This story was remarkably up front about the idea behind the Huckabee/Cumulus venture. It began this way:

Earlier this week, Cumulus Media sent out an email blast to fellow radio station owners with a photoshopped picture of former U.S. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, promoting him as the conservative talk radio host of the future.

Though the email did not name Rush Limbaugh, the long-running, top-rated talk radio host whose program is nationally syndicated by Cumulus' rival, Clear Channel Communications, the intent was obvious to some recipients.

"They are going after Rush's affiliates," said one radio company executive who received Cumulus' email and spoke on condition of anonymity. "They are positioning Huckabee as the safe, non-dangerous alternative to Rush and saying to station owners, 'If you are looking for conservative content, we want you to consider our guy instead of theirs.'"

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