RUSH: I don’t often do this, but there’s a story in the New York Times today: ‘Radio’s Revenue Falls Even as Audience Grows — Listeners are diverted by iPods and Internet and satellite radio. Companies are loaded with debt. Advertisers are heading to television or the Web.’ No, they’re not. Television is in trouble, too. It isn’t just radio. Television is in trouble with primetime advertising. ‘And even though the audience for broadcast radio is actually growing, stations cannot seem to increase their revenue.’ Some stations. I don’t normally talk about this, but I’m going to do this because I suspect that this story in the New York Times will have a ripple effect. The AP will do their version of it, and sometime in the next three or four days the American people and news consuming public is going to be left with the impression that radio is in its last days and that we’re in our final, final moments and it’s just horrible and it’s in bad shape out there.
At any rate, some stations are in trouble. Some ownership groups are in trouble, as a lot of industries are. But I just want to say that here at the EIB Network, in our wholly contained little operation, we aren’t. We have just completed our 20th year. Every year of those 20 years has been an increase in gross revenue from the year before. For 2009, we are busy selling advertising and engaging in other of our various forms of revenue generation. For 2009, we are already ahead of not just the pace of 2008, this year, but we’re close to being ahead gross already for next year. While there are problems, there are solutions to these problems. It’s basically called content, content, content. It really comes down to, if you’re a programmer, to content, content, content. If you put something out that people want to listen to and you attract a large enough audience that’s loyal and sophisticated enough to understand how all this works, then, lo and behold, the advertisers in that program will have success and, bammo! You’re off and running.
So we can also say that those advertising on this program are not in a recession, either. I want to mention this to you — and as you know, I very seldom talk about the business side of this because my purpose is not to gloat, and it’s not to do anything other than to reassure you that the story that you’re going to read about how radio is in horrible shape, even though audience is growing, there’s no advertising, it isn’t true where your favorite radio program is concerned. And this is the thing. It’s Thanksgiving, and the reason that the stories about falling revenue from the radio business in general do not apply to the EIB Network, RushLimbaugh.com, or the Limbaugh Letter, is because of you. And, see, this is what I have always understood — well, not always. I took me awhile. When I first got into radio, I got into it for the ‘young’ reason. I wanted to be on the radio, play records and have a good old time. The ego aspect of it. But eventually I learned that it’s a business, first and foremost, and if those requirements are not met then all the rest is academic. So first and foremost we focus on this as a business — and in that vein, therefore, the most important focus is the audience.
The show is the thing, and you are the show. Because without you here, there’s no show. All the rest is academic. So the real testament to the success of this program is you and your loyalty and your constant, never-ending support. Audience numbers, vagaries of ratings are such that we’re on 600-plus stations and ratings come out every month now, but they used to come out four times a year. Some markets you’d be up; some markets you’d be down, but aggregately we were always up when you total national numbers. The national numbers that are associated with this flow, ’14 million,’ they’re also not correct. They’re put together by people who don’t have access to the actual numbers so they admit that they’re guessing and guesstimating and the Drive-Bys use the lower number to negatively report on the so-called success or influence, impact of this program. Our revenue is not falling short. Our revenue is growing. By the way, we haven’t added commercial minutes. We haven’t skyrocketed prices. This is just a result of demand. It works. Everything here works, and it works because of you.
This is just a roundabout way of once again, thanking you. You know, I get sentimental and I get nostalgic this time of year. We’re not far from going into the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas bump rotation which I just love, but the holiday season is upon us, and my favorite time of the year, and it’s when I get the most feeling of gratitude about the absolute unbelievable good fortune that has befallen me because of you. I can’t thank you enough, and you all have been here through all kinds of thick and thin. Not just various things happening in the news and various other opportunities for you to go elsewhere, ’cause there are a whole lot of new listening options from when we started in 1988. That’s why we make this program available on podcast, to satisfy those of you who prefer it be portable. You can listen to it whenever you want to. We do our best to stay on the cutting edge on the delivery of the program. But it’s still a content, content, content business. There are a lot of people don’t quite get that, even in our business, or they get it 50 or 60%. But, regardless, radio has its challenges, as does every other business.
We work hard here every day to meet and surpass the audience expectations that you have and make the time investment you spend here worthwhile to you. So I just want to thank you, because in the midst of what is said to be recessionary times and down revenues throughout much of broadcasting and media — I mean the newspapers are the ones that are in trouble. Newspapers are laying people off left and right. Some of the television network news divisions, they’re having trouble as well. Plus the prime-time entertainment. But we’re not. It’s very humbling to me. It’s stunning in a way. I’ll give you an example. In 1988 when we started this program, it was just this program, and the other media was the three networks — the big newspapers and magazines — and CNN. That was it. There were 125 radio stations doing talk, and now here we are in 2008, there are over 2,500 radio stations doing talk. We have I don’t know how many cable networks doing news and faux news and who knows what the hell else.
We’re not far away from having the Thimble Channel on TV or on satellite radio for people that want news about thimbles. That’s how niche programming and audiences are becoming. And yet throughout all of this expansion, the pie, the broadcast pie — radio, cable news — has grown. People who have never advertised in this medium before are now advertising, and they’re enjoying phenomenal success in most instances. And throughout all of this — you want something really stunning? Throughout all of this (in 1988, I’m it. For three or four years, I’m it. Then the boom began, and all these other programs started) we have not lost a single audience member. These other programs have not cannibalized this one, have not cannibalized each other. The libs are having trouble. They always do have trouble on a medium where you can’t do something else while you’re listening. Who wants to listen to people angry and enraged all the time? But regardless, it’s been phenomenal.
And when I see a story in the New York Times that I know is going to get picked up, ‘Radio’s Revenue Falls,’ this is designed to create all kinds of concern. Remember, the media would love for this program to go south; the media would love the Fairness Doctrine to come back around. The media would love for their monopoly (which they used to have up until 1988) go south and come back. So they’ll be eager to report anything that makes you think the salad days are over, and they’re not. We’re just as strong as ever, stronger than ever, and it’s because you are out there and listening each and every day and have a sophisticated understanding of the model that makes a program like this work. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart here on Thanksgiving eve because it means more to me than I would ever be able to express to you.