PALM BEACH, Fla. – Rush Limbaugh wasted no time Monday responding to a published report that he is soon to be dropped by Cumulus Media, the second-largest broadcaster in the U.S.
“Someday I am looking forward to being able to detail all of this for you, but suffice to say, nothing is going to happen that you will notice. Nothing is going to change,” Limbaugh told listeners.
“You are going to be able to get this radio program on as many, if not more, radio stations down the road than it’s on now.”
He said he would love to spill the beans on what’s really going on behind the scenes, but must “use proper business restraint” in addressing what he referred to as a “public business negotiation.”
“What you’re being treated to is just a public business negotiation,” Limbaugh explained. “Negotiations have been taken public by one side of this, when I thought it was done. I thought it was over with.”
“I must USE proper business restraint here. But I just want to assure you everything’s cool, and what’s on the table for this program is growth,” he concluded.
In a story published Sunday night by the Politico, reporter Dylan Byers said an industry source claims Cumulus is planning to let go of both Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year.
The source indicated the broadcasting giant won't renew its contracts with both popular voices, removing the two most highly rated conservative talkers from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.
The source also said negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel Communications which distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, came to a halt over disagreements about the cost of distribution rights.
"Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names," Byers noted.
Radio insiders have cautioned that both Cumulus and Clear Channel have engaged in brinkmanship on previous contract talks only to resume discussions.
But the source told Politico that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution to an acceptable level for Cumulus.
Cumulus declined comment for the report, with a spokesperson only saying: "Cumulus is not in a position to comment about negotiations with talent under contract, no matter what the rumor of the day might be."
Sources in the radio industry told Byers that in recent weeks, Cumulus has been quietly reaching out to radio talent agents and political insiders to find new hosts to fill the airtime void expected to be left vacant by Limbaugh and Hannity.
"Cumulus is also expected to move some of its existing talent – which includes Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage – into one of the slots," Byers noted.
If negotiations don't continue, Premiere Networks is expected to carry Limbaugh and Hannity on stations in many of the markets where they're currently signed with Cumulus.
Neither Premiere, Limbaugh nor Hannity commented on the report Sunday night.
Byers says back in May, a source close to Limbaugh indicated the national radio leader from Palm Beach, Fla., was considering ending his affiliation with Cumulus because CEO Lew Dickey was blaming the company's advertising losses on Limbaugh's remarks about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student whom he called a "slut."
"On an earnings call two days later, Dickey reported a $2.4 million first-quarter decline in revenue related to talk programming, which he attributed, indirectly, to Limbaugh's remarks about Fluke," Byers explained. "Dickey is expected to hold another earnings call this week, though it is unclear if he will address the contract negotiations."