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New York Loves Rush and Hannity and L.A. Joins Their Fan Clubs

Jul 20, 2006


New York and Los Angeles have gone conservative. Well, a good number of folks anyway, judging from the immense and growing popularity of conservative talk radio personalities in these two largest cities in the U.S., and the flame-out of their liberal talk show competitors in those locations, as well as in most other radio markets.

The topics presently dominating talk radio are the Israel-Hezbollah conflict and U.S. Middle East policy, while the prevailing interactive talk is decidedly conservative and pro-President Bush. These views are reported in several public opinion polls these days.

Newly-released Arbitron radio ratings for Spring (second-quarter) 2006 measuring listenership for those 12 years of age and older, show conservative commentators leading the pack and distancing themselves from the competition. On both coasts, there is a clean sweep by conservative hosts who generally support the state of Israel and the policies of President George W. Bush. In America's largest media market, New York City, conservative talk show hosts hold sway on powerhouse station WABC-AM. Rush Limbaugh is far out in front of everyone, liberal or conservative, with Sean Hannity a strong second on the same station. Three additional conservative talk show hosts are in New York's top 10 most popular, including Mark Levin, also on WABC-AM. Over at another of New York’s dominant stations, WOR radio, there are conservatives Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage, rounding out New York's top 10.

Air America's liberal talk show host, Al Franken, on New York’s WLIB, is in 11th place with only one-third the number in Rush Limbaugh's audience. Liberal Randi Rhodes, also on WLIB, is in 13th place. Even worse, however, is that this summer Air America loses its lease on WLIB Radio, leaving it without a New York City radio outlet, and with a dwindling number of less-powerful stations nationwide compared to those carrying the conservative programs.

In Los Angeles, conservative talk radio station KFI has taken over first place in the Arbitron ratings, topping Spanish-language stations in the important Hispanic market. Rush Limbaugh is carried on KFI, as well as local L.A. talk show host Bill Handel, who gained popularity with his anti-Muslim jokes. Blogger Brian Maloney reports that "…liberal Air America (Los Angeles) affiliate KTLK turned in a flat 1.0 (audience) share."

The results in medium radio markets are much the same. In Cincinnati, Ohio, liberal talk show host Jerry Springer was replaced by a sports show on a powerful 50,000 watt station, WCKY. Springer is now heard on a less dominant regional station, WSAI.

Some believe conservative talk radio has larger audiences because its listeners are older and at home to listen to the radio, while liberals are younger and busy earning a living, away from their radios. Whatever the reason, conservative radio -- with its sizable audience -- makes money, is self-supporting and is expanding its dominance, unlike liberal radio.

Combined with the popularity and momentum of TV's Fox News Channel, which many perceive as conservative-oriented, conservative viewpoints are dominating American radio and cable TV even in liberal bastions such as New York and Los Angeles.

The daily drumbeat of talking points as discussed interactively on talk radio could help to strengthen the conservative base and influence public opinion on the issues of the day, such as those in the Middle East. Beyond this, the international press corps based in the U.S. is well aware of the swaying pendulum of public opinion in America and they like to report it.

As someone wrote to Worldcasting the other day, the Truman Lounge in Washington, D.C.'s National Press Club Building, is still a favorite watering hole for media types from abroad with offices in the Press Building. It is here that the issues of the day are bandied about, and then it's off to one's office down the hall, to file a story back home in an e-mail, or from a broadcast studio.

It is here that a quote or two could be recalled from one of those conservative talk shows, even from one of the old folks.


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