Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rush's 20 Million Listeners: The Challenge

Dear and Gentle Readers,

Madame L has received this challenge:

I challenge Madame L to set the record straight - how many listeners does "Bad Rush" (as opposed to the great band with unfortunately the same name) actually HAVE? His website claims 20 million, but that number is, as they say, "round and steaming."

Madame L accepts the challenge with delight and finds the following, which Madame L suspects will come as no surprise to any of her Gentle Readers: Rush Limbaugh's supposed 20 million listeners are completely made up.

Cenk Uygur, host of "The Young Turks," has done the research for us. He found the original source for the 20 million figurein "Billboard" magazine in 1993: "Limbaugh's show is now heard on 610 stations and reaches approximately 20 million listeners, according to [Kit] Carson." And who is Kit Carson? He is an employee of Limbaugh.

The other number the Limbaugh people come up with is 15 million. Mr. Uygur tracked that one down, too, quoting Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine: "They are only our thumbnail estimates based upon our contacts in the field, tracking of Arbitron estimates and understanding of the business. We make no claims as to 'scientific' accuracy... [T]hey are not 'ratings' per se."

Mr. Uygur challenges Rush Limbaugh to prove that he has anywhere near those numbers. He's pretty sure Limbaugh can't do it, because (a) it's impossible to get reliable ratings figures for radio and (b) he has far fewer readers than he claims.

Mr. Uygur concludes, "Rush's audience is a myth. He is a paper tiger. Do some people listen to him? Of course. Is it anywhere near the hype? Not remotely. Talk radio is a dying business. I wouldn't be surprised if his daily listeners didn't even reach a million. I wouldn't be surprised if we have more online viewers on The Young Turks (which are100 percent Google verifiable) than he has radio listeners.

"Rush is a sad, old man that a couple of other sad, old men listen to. His days are numbered. Rush, it definitely wasn't nice knowing you. Tick tock, tick tock."

Madame L  thanks Jeff for the challenge. She enjoyed listening to and watching "The Young Turks" as she researched this story. Mr. Uygur expresses outrage against injustice and hypocrisy without losing his sense of humor. 

Great listening! He's one of the few journalists online who faces these kinds of issues head on. For example, check out his show on Attorney General Eric Holder's ridiculous distinction between "due process" and "judicial process" as he justifies killing American citizens by an Orwellian re-defining of the terms. 


Madame L

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