RUSH: And greetings to you, music lovers, thrill-seekers, conversationalists all across the fruited plain. We’re back. We’re back at it, El Rushbo back in the saddle here at the EIB Southern Command — the distinguished, the indispensable Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies. You know, I remember back when this program started back in August of 1988. We started with 56 radio stations, and they were stations that had no idea what they were carrying.
They were stations left over from a program that this one, this program was replacing. It was a program hosted by the late Owen Spann, and the stations were in small towns and cities across the country, and it was then up to me and us to build our audience and hopefully expand on that work and acquire huge, dominant radio stations — or, alternatively, make huge dominant radio stations. We did both, and it was a fascinating experience. It had never been done before. It had never been tried this way.
Syndicated talk radio had always been something that was accepted in the broadcast industry as nighttime programming, nighttime and overnight, midnight to six, the Larry King hours. The Wizards of Smart in broadcasting all wished me well (well, most of them did), but they all concluded it wouldn’t work. You couldn’t syndicate a program in the daytime because, at the time, the prevailing programming opinion was that all programming had to be local.
Local issues, local carrot cake recipes, local sewage programs, local phone numbers, local callers, local guests. If you didn’t do that, it wouldn’t work. I always said, “Well, do people who watch Donahue care where it comes from? Do people who watch The Oprah care where it comes from? They don’t. So why should radio be any different? If it’s a good show, people will find it. They’ll listen to it,” and what happened is historic. We went from 56 radio stations to, in the first year or two, over 450.
We finally climbed over the 600 mark, I think, by 1993 or 1992, somewhere around in there, and it was exciting. Practically every day or week in those first two to three years we were announcing a new station, welcoming a new station to the EIB Network, and it was always a fun and exciting thing, because it was growth before everybody’s eyes. Right in front of everybody’s eyes, the growth was taking place, and we got all kinds of stations.
In some cases we got stations in large markets that did not have a big audience that we turned into dominant stations in the market. In other places we got the dominant station in the market and ended up there, and it was just fascinating. It was. By the way, it was fraught with a lot of stress. There were a lot of competing ambitions even within the EIB Network. I’ve always had a theory that when you look back at your history, nostalgia, you’re reminded of the good times, and you are.
But at the same time, I mean, it was fraught with a lot of tension and a lot of negativism and a lot of pessimism as well as the optimism, and there were people that didn’t want it to get that big because they didn’t want to work that hard. “Two hundred stations, that’d be fine. We can manage that and everything will be cool.” But I didn’t want to settle for 200 stations. I moved to New York to take over and be legitimate number one. That is the reason I did it.
So I remember the first major market station that we had was WABC in New York, and that was the flagship, and the next… I forget the order. I think Detroit was next, but very near the beginning was Los Angeles, AM 640 KFI, and it was momentous. Let me give you a little inside baseball, in terms of the business of radio. The top 25 markets… If you’re on a decent station in the top 25 markets, you are reaching 80% of the population of the country, and that’s relevant in terms of the business of advertising.
I mean, you could be on 600 radio stations but if you’re not in the top 25 nobody’s gonna hear you, and it’s not just in the top 25; you’ve gotta be on stations in those markets that people listen to. Well to cut to the chase here, today we are moving, and it’s kind of like the old days of announcing new stations, the excitement and growth of that. In Los Angeles, we are moving across town to a station named after me: AM 1150 KEIB.
It’s KEIB in LA.
We’re starting there today. We’re going to be simulcasted on KFI for a period. I think it’s a month. It might be a little bit longer than that. The stations are co-owned by EIB, so we have not created any enemies here. We’re simply expanding our market in LA, and moving from KFI to KEIB. In New York, we are moving to WOR, just down the dial. It’s AM 710 in New York, WOR, and today is the first day for both of those radio stations, and it is momentous. It is monumental.
It’s a huge thing. It may not be much to those of you out there. I’m giving you inside baseball stuff. But, in terms of the inside baseball business aspect, these are big moves, and there’s a lot involved here in the move that I’m not gonna get into, the reasons for it and so forth. Just suffice it to say, it wouldn’t be happening if I didn’t want it to. It wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t what was the best for the EIB Network and for the audience.
So, anyway, we’re making the move official today. Those are the two new stations. There have been others. We’ve moved in previous years to previous times, different stations and so forth, but these are number one and number two market-wise. And there are obviously some people that are not gonna know and they’re gonna tune into the old place and not find it there, and other people who didn’t know we were coming and have turned the radios on and say, “What the — is this?”
So we’re here and we’re not going anywhere, and we’ve got the opportunity here to build a couple more radio stations: WOR in New York, which is established — it’s a legendary station — and KEIB (AM 1150) in Los Angeles. Now, there are some ancillary things that have happened but I’m not gonna talk about those because that would not be good manners. It would not be classy to talk about some aspects of what has happened here as a result of the… (interruption) What? Well, it effectively is the end of liberal talk radio in Los Angeles, but I don’t want to really get into details of that. That wouldn’t be classy.
I’m not gonna mention any names here, but I was humorously amused… Is there any other way to be amused? I was humorously amused over the break. A person who had been in politics and then jumped into talk radio thinking it would be easy, quit. I’m not gonna mention any names. That’s not the purpose here. But what fascinated me was the reason given by the person when they decided to drop out. The person who quit blamed the syndicator for not getting him an audience.
I remember when I started in 1986, it was totally up to me to get audience. The syndicator… There was a combined effort to get radio stations, yeah.
You’ve gotta go out and get affiliates and that’s key, and you try to get the best ones that you can, and of course we would not allow this program to be cleared at night. That would defeat the whole purpose. We were gonna be on from noon to three and that was it. If you wanted the program, you had to carry it noon to three.
If we woulda allowed people to take the program at night, you woulda never heard of this program. I remember in LA KABC the guy, George Green was his name, offered… (interruption) You remember this story? He offered to buy the program and then shelve it, not air it, to keep it off the air in LA, and I was worried that my syndication partners might go to the money on the deal, and they didn’t. I was wrong about it. I mean, those kinds of things happened.
By the same token, I was not gonna permit this program to be delayed to nighttime or weekends. In Pittsburgh they said, “Well, you know, we’re not sure. How about we take the programs on weekends and test it?” I said, “Guaranteed failure. There’s nothing you’re gonna move from weekend to days. We’re not doing it.” So we would stay out of markets rather than go in and lose. I just found it fascinating that this person said this.
I just never had the luxury of saying that the syndicator had to get my audience. It must be… (interruption) Well, it is a liberal attitude to think somebody else must do it for you.