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Talk radio ratings and revenues are up – but one industry tome is predicting a serious problem in the near future: a talent shortage.

A Hollywood Reporter cover story says superstars like Howard Stern and Dr. Laura are on the way out, and there’s little new talent in sight.

“It used to be that talkers would hone their craft during weekends and off hours and in small markets, then work their way up,” but those days are gone. The next Rush or Hannity will likely come from the ranks of the do-it-yourself podcasters, especially since
the “number of Americans who listen to radio online each week has doubled in five years to 43 million.”

Progressives who dream of a return of the “Fairness Doctrine” might have to push for a fully regulated Internet next, if they want to stop conservative talk radio once and for all.

Rush Limbaugh

The New York Daily News reports that according to genealogical research, Rush Limbaugh is distantly related to Barack Obama (FREE webcam).

Rush doubted the findings, but one blogger quipped that, since Hawaiian law states that only relatives can request another’s personal records, Limbaugh should ask to see Obama’s birth certificate.

This week, Rush also joked that “the Red Chinese are paying Obama’s salary” (FREE audio) and had fun at the expense of Krystal Ball (her real name); racy photos of the Democratic candidate have surfaced on the Internet, and she is calling it part of a sexist smear campaign. Rush was at a rare loss for words, trying to describe the photos on the air without getting in trouble with the FCC.

According to one blog, “Limbaugh’s demure description might explain why ‘Krystal Ball racy photos’ was the top Google search yesterday afternoon.”

Sean Hannity

As if RINOs (“Republicans In Name Only”) weren’t bad enough. Now, Sean Hannity says, there are Democrats masquerading as Republicans.

“It’s just funny to watch how all this is unfolding here,” Sean said, noting the many Democratic campaign ads in which candidates pointedly distance themselves from Obama’s policies.

Hannity continued his “Meet the Candidates” segments, introducing listeners to Kristi Noem, who is running for Congress in South Dakota, and West Virginia Senatorial John Raese:

Other guests this week included Karl Rove and GOP Chairman Michael Steele (all audio is members only).

The Salt Lake Tribune celebrated KSL NewsRadio’s decision “to dump ‘The Sean Hannity Show’ from its lineup.”

It’s “obvious that Hannity’s acerbic bombast would not fit well with the LDS Church-owned station’s recent mission statement to more closely reflect the values of its ownership,” the paper’s editorial states. “Hannity was snapped up by local talk-radio station KNRS, where he’ll feel right at home with fellow blowhards Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.”

Mark Levin

“She recommends Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin by name,” reported Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, in her recent profile of Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a political activist in her own right.

No word on Levin’s reaction to the prestigious plug, but this week he had other things on his mind. Not surprisingly, Levin had a lot to say about the Democrats’ unfounded “foreign money” accusations against, of all things, the Chamber of Commerce (FREE audio).

This week, Levin also interviewed thriller writer Vince Flynn about his new blockbuster novel, “American Assassin,” and candidate Joe Miller, who is running against Lisa Murkowski in Alaska (all audio is free).

Michael Savage

Most media outlets pretended Michael Savage’s new book, “Trickle Up Poverty,” wasn’t a bestseller on Amazon.com this week. One exception was the Washington Times, which selected the perfect person to review it: rock star Ted Nugent.

Nugent wrote: “While relaxing in my deer blind waiting to put an arrow through the pump station of an ultra-alert Texas whitetail deer, I read Mr. Savage’s new book. Instead of my predator eyes scanning the Texas brush for the slightest hint of movement, I found myself focused instead on Mr. Savage’s dead-eye truth and common-sense words.”

Savage was so thrilled by the review, he read it on the air (FREE audio).

A former classmate of Barack Obama’s at Occidental College, Dr. John C. Drew, Ph.D., was pleased to learn that Savage had incorporated his own observations about Obama’s lifelong Marxist leanings into “Trickle Up Poverty.”

Drew wrote: “Acknowledging my own embarrassing past as a Marxist revolutionary, Savage reports – truthfully – that I came to see Obama as a ‘blood brother’ and as a ‘member of this revolutionary elite that was going to turn around our country when the revolution hit.’”

Laura Ingraham

“Is ‘CSI’ becoming political, becoming lefty?” Ingraham asked. “Have they done episodes focuses on Muslim terrorism? So now the Tea Party’s the threat, no Islamic jihadists?”

Viewers were buzzing about a new episode of the crime drama “CSI” because it featured a cameo by pop star Justin Bieber. However, what captured Laura Ingraham’s imagination was a perceived slam against Tea Partiers on the same show. She played the offending audio clip on her radio show (FREE audio).

Also this week, Ingraham and Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile fought it out over the upcoming elections. After being called a “danger to democracy” by the White House, conservative activist Ed Gillespie joined Ingraham to discuss the charges (FREE audio).

Glenn Beck

“I’m not dying,” announced Glenn Beck, after undergoing two days of medical tests. Beck’s health (and his eyesight in particular) have been a major issue of late. So far, a firm diagnosis is proving elusive.

On Thursday, Beck called upon listeners to support the Chamber of Commerce in the face of the White House’s smear campaign against it. Sure enough, his audience’s contributions made it the organization’s biggest donation day ever.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post continues his campaign to demonize Beck, blaming the radio host for “giving voice and legitimacy to the violent fringe” – specifically, for allegedly inspiring foiled mass murderer Byron Williams.

And now, from the left side of the dial …

Whether or not Glenn Beck has the power to inspire violence, he is certainly driving his progressive counterparts crazy.

This time, liberal talk show host Mike Malloy accused Beck of “trying to get people to assassinate the president of the United States and his family.”

Malloy added, apparently without any sense of irony or self-awareness, that Beck is “really nuts, and he should be taken off the air and put some place very quiet and given the drugs that’s necessary to keep him sedated.”

Progressives like to pose the rhetorical question, “Does this or that famous conservative pundit really believe what they say?” It’s hard not to wonder if commentators on the left actually hear themselves speak sometimes.

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