Why the Limbaugh Schtick Still Sells

Incendiary host hangs onto huge audience in dying medium
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 31, 2009 1:31 PM CDT
In this Jan. 13, 2009 file photo, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh talks with guests in the East Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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(Newser) – Radio is a dying format, listeners are aging out, and Americans aren’t in the mood for “hands-off government.” So why is Rush Limbaugh's audience, not to speak of his prominence in the GOP, soaring, Michael Wolff asks in Vanity Fair. It's not his politics. "Showmanship," says one moderate Republican. "Nuttiness. The man has no behavioral regulators.”  Cockiness, adds Wolff: his verbal assaults “are cast not just as slurs but as threats.”

“On the attack,” as Rush has been lately, he’s “much more lively, scary, jaw-dropping, and fabulous,” Wolff writes. Backed by an army of listeners who will jump at his on-air calls to action, Rush quickly dismantles critics. “If he wanted to,” he could “split the party,” says one Republican. But his power can’t last, argues Wolff. For Limbaugh, “it’s always been about radio. And that endgame is written,” says an industry insider.