I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, but it’s from my friend Holland Cooke, one of the top-rated radio consultants in the nation. He’s a busy man these days, with a client base that includes plenty of stations that carry Rush, and plenty which do not.
Cooke says the Limbaugh story is closer to the beginning than the end, and I’d be a fool to disagree. But I’ll bet Rush and his handlers do not have an effective emergency communications plan to deal with what’s yet to unfold.
One thing that sets this latest shout/hate radio debacle aside from prior incidents (like Imus’ rant against the Rutgers women’s basketball team) is that social media has truly come of age in 2012, acting not only as a first source for news (where did you find out that Whitney Houston had passed away?), but also as a lightning-fast tool for mobilization of an angry public, which pushed back hard when Rush wouldn’t back down. Rush and his handlers had no idea how hard and fast they’d get hit.
The other thing the EIB crew is going to get blindsided on is the legal action which is more than likely to come. Can you not picture a number of high-profile lawyers who are right now lining up to ask Sandra Fluke for permission to sue Limbaugh on her behalf? If you’ve never been in one of these situations, the first thing that happens in the lawsuit is discovery. Rush will be subjected to giving a deposition, and he’s proven time and again that he's only good when he's alone in the studio, not face-to-face with a talented interrogator. Remember his failed TV show years ago? His brief affiliation with ESPN? EPIC fail.
The Southern Command, as he calls his Florida coterie of sycophants/employees, is not going to be prepared to deal with what lawyers call “Request for Production of Documents”. By the way, the word “request” is a legal pleasantry. You don’t have a choice but to comply.
I’ve mentioned before that Cumulus, one of the nation’s largest radio group owners, is a few weeks from launching The Mike Huckabee show to compete directly with Rush, and when the show launches, here are some of the Cumulus stations that will be kicking Rush off: WLS-Chicago, WABC-New York, WJR-Detroit, WMAL-Washington DC, and WBAP-Dallas/Ft. Worth, just to name a few of the powerhouse stations that will be ordered by the Cumulus home office to dump Rush and run Huckabee.
Limbaugh’s stunt to spike the ratings has really backfired. But, with the Republicans talking about women’s reproductive rights and separation of church and state (which the vast majority of Americans consider settled law), they may have already given Rush what he secretly wants most: four more years of President Obama. Rush and his ilk do much better railing at Democrats.
So…..although he may get what he secretly wants, whether he’ll be around to enjoy it is more and more an open question.