As we usher in a new year, let’s look back on some of the highlights (and “lowlights”) in the realm of conservative talk radio during 2010…
This time last year, Rush Limbaugh was vacationing in Hawaii when he was taken to the hospital with chest pains. The reaction ranged from laudable (countless “get well soon” messages on Twitter) to predictably nasty.
As I noted at the time:
“The next day – when the searches for ‘Rush Limbaugh’ reached the ‘volcanic’ level at Google Trends – the irony of the situation hit me. Who do millions of us turn to when there’s bad news? Rush Limbaugh. But who do we turn to if Rush isn’t around, because Rush is the ‘bad news’?”
Of course, Rush made a complete recovery, and acquired an unlikely new friend along the way: singer Elton John, who’d sent good well wishes to Limbaugh at the hospital. The pair made headlines again later this year, when Elton performed at Rush’s wedding to Kathryn Rogers.
The Limbaugh nuptials inspired more fan devotion, with avid listeners creating tribute videos from the official wedding photos, like this one (FREE video):
Hannity’s annual Freedom Concert fundraisers sold out again, and raised money for a scholarship fund dedicated to the children of fallen or disabled U.S. service members.
Hannity ranked No. 4 on “Talkers” magazine’s prestigious “Heaviest Hundred” list. The industry “bible” called him “the modern-era titan of conservative new/talk.” His show remains No. 2 in audience size, according to Talker’s “Top Talk Radio Audiences.”
“Conservative Victory,” Hannity’s first new book in six years, debuted in February and spent four weeks on top of the best-seller lists.
As combative as ever, Levin fought various “conservative” critics this year, like David Frum and from the “The Atlantic,” Conor Friedersdorf, who Levin called “a very sick young man and a liar to boot” on his Facebook page.
Among his conservative talk radio peers, Levin embraced social media in 2010, using his Facebook page to post exclusive essays, and sharing favorite articles with his thousands of Twitter followers.
Levin’s 2009 mega-selling book “Liberty & Tyranny” continued to make headlines and influence voters through ’10. Sarah Palin repeatedly praised the book (although Barbara Walters didn’t want you to know that…) (FREE video) and not a few observers credited “Liberty & Tyranny” with the conservative tea party revival that culminated in the GOP’s sweep of the House in November.
Despite a complete mainstream media blackout, Michael Savage’s new book “Trickle Up Poverty” made it to No. 2 on the “New York Times” best-seller list, and remains at No. 12 on their list of political best-sellers.
Savage also signed a deal to pen two fictional thrillers, with the prestigious publishing house St. Martin’s Press. The first is due out in August 2011, and is, according to Savage, is “my fictionalized account of being banned from Britain and hunted by overbearing governments is set in the San Francisco only I know. This will be my most exciting book yet.”
The year drew to a close with a dispute between Savage and his show’s syndicator, Talk Radio Network. His contract with them expires this month, and he says he wants to accept an offer from Courtside Radio and Westwood One.
Over the summer, Laura Ingraham’s satirical book “The Obama Diaries” reached No. 1 on “The New York Times” best-seller list. It received a glowing review in, of all places, the “Washington Post:”
“As these hilarious, self-absorbed reveries demonstrate, Ingraham has a gift for acerbic expression. Her takedown of the 44th president is always entertaining, and at times brilliant. With ‘The Obama Diaries,’ Ingraham establishes herself as one of the cleverest thorns in the administration’s side.”
It’s hard to argue with the proposition that 2010 was the year of Glenn Beck. His “Restoring Honor” rally, dubbed “the Miracle on the Mall,” witnessed hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans making a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., at Beck’s behest. Anyone who doubts those record-breaking numbers need only look at this video of Beck welcoming the crowd (FREE video)
Beck also launched TheBlaze.com, his new website for news and opinion. As usual, his many books (and those he promoted) topped the “New York Times” and Amazon best-sellers lists. As the “Dallas Morning News” observed:
“Political pundit Glenn Beck proved a hugely popular author with his political diatribes, ‘Broke’ and ‘Arguing With Idiots.’ He also became a powerful force in the books business after he started inviting politically aligned thriller writers such as Brad Thor and Vince Flynn on his Fox News show, prompting people to start calling him the Right Wing’s Oprah. Beck took a leap into fiction with the publication of ‘The Overton Window’ in June, and it, too, became another best-seller for the man who is unafraid to cry.”