Has an iceberg named Limbaugh already started to sink the Huckabee show?
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• On March 19, the Wall Street Journal reported that “With the slogan ‘more conversation, less confrontation,’ the syndicator behind ‘Huckabee,’ Cumulus Media Networks, has been pitching the new show to advertisers as a less combative alternative to Mr. Limbaugh.”
• On April 1, in New York Times story headlined “Talk Radio Face-Off Approaches,” Lew Dickey marveled at the ratings that would be seen for RINO radio: “We haven’t seen the 25-54 results with the stable of talent that’s out there today. We think we can improve on that with this approach.”
• On April 7, in a Politico story headlined “Mike Huckabee Takes Aim at Rush Limbaugh,” both Cumulus co-COO John Dickey and Huckabee were plain about the plan. Said Dickey, comparing the about-to-launch Huckabee show to Rush: “This is going to be safer from a commercial standpoint, and more respectful from a listener’s perspective. I think that environment has been sorely lacking in talk radio.”
Huckabee himself told Politico: “Our tagline is, ‘More conversation, less confrontation’…”
• On May 17, Bloomberg’s Business Week blared, “For Cumulus Media, Huckabee Takes On Limbaugh,” the article filled with the by-then three-month old story line about how Huckabee had “the right mix of name recognition, likability, contacts, and the dexterity to take on different subjects without sounding harsh or grating.” That would be “harsh or grating” like… well… You Know Who.
And so it went. You get the picture.
If there were a reporter anywhere within reach of the Dickey Brothers bull horn they were getting the pitch: “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Huckabee to topple Limbaugh!”
Fair enough. Everybody loves to fantasize about beating champs, whether the champ in question is Muhammad Ali, James Bond, or Rush Limbaugh.
But at some point, it’s fair to say something like: “Mr. Goldfinger, you’ve tried everything. After failing to laser Bond to death, shoot him to death, run him off-the-road-to-death, not to mention snap his neck with Odd Job’s steel-rimmed hat… well, sir, Mr. Bond is not only still alive he is now busily disarming the nuclear weapon you believed would destroy Ft. Knox. Mr. Goldfinger, sir….. do you have a Plan Z?”
Eventually, to recall this memorable moment in the film, Goldfinger did come up with Plan Z — which ended with the famous Bond enemy being sucked out of a plane window. Never to be heard from again.
Well, Governor Huckabee has now been on the air for three months. It would seem fair to ask the obvious questions:
But in fact, what do we have here?
Just months ago the Dickeys were everywhere talking about what a brilliant business idea it was to take on the champion of conservative talk radio (and by extension the conservative world well beyond). The impression left at the almost eerie silence on the subject these days is not unlike the uncomprehending silence that is said to have rippled through the Titanic after it hit the iceberg: a silence caused by disbelief, followed shortly thereafter by quiet panic. Quiet panic that inevitably gives way when all hell breaks loose as, fingers starting to point angrily and with predictable certainty, the ship sinks.
Or to wax Bondian, Huckabee… sorry… Goldfinger… gets sucked out of the talk radio airplane window.
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