Just a few months after Cumulus media blamed their financial woes on an advertising boycott of Rush Limbaugh following his decision to call Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" on-air, it looks like the company may shake off Limbaugh, along with fellow conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, from their 40-odd stations across the nation.
That's, at least, according to a Politico report, which places the pair's departure from the company's stations at the end of the year. Following up on rumors that Cumulus was looking to fill some airtime in the near future, the company's negotiations to keep the hosts have reportedly broken down:
The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.
Assuming the negotiations don't go through, Hannity and Limbaugh's show would move to Clear Channel stations in the markets lost from Cumulus.
So what's all this have to do with Sandra Fluke, the woman Limbaugh insulted in early 2012 during a heated national debate on access to contraceptives? The company isn't saying directly at this point. But last May, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey complained publicly about their lost revenue following Limbaugh's remarks, with other reports indicating that both Limbaugh and Hannity are on some sort of advertising blacklist for almost all of the top 50 advertisers. Limbaugh has pushed back hard against those assertions. But in the first quarter of this year, Cumulus lost over $2 million in revenue related to talk radio.
Cumulus, however, doesn't really look interested in shaking off conservative talk radio anytime soon. The Politico report indicates Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage (along with other local and regional hosts on Cumulus stations)are all in the running to take over Limbaugh and Hannity's airtime, should the shakeup pan out. While Cumulus wouldn't comment to Politico about the rumors, Dickey is slated to hold another earnings call this week.