“It starts over,” Harrison said in an interview, noting that conservative radio users can easily switch to other popular Limbaugh-like hosts, including Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin. (iHeartMedia may not mind: it also syndicates Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity.)
Mr Limbaugh’s success may have ultimately made his show out of date.
He was the first conservative icon in the national media, introducing a mass audience to an ideology more closely associated with elite organs such as the National Review. His shock antics enraged the Democratic presidents and popularized the Republicans. As early as 1992, President George Bush invited him to spend a night in the Lincoln bedroom.
Prior to Fox News and MAGA Internet, Mr. Limbaugh’s program was the only megaphone for his divisive, non-partisan manner of comment. “There is something magical about the intimacy of radio that younger readers just can’t appreciate,” wrote commentator Matt Lewis on The Daily Beast after Mr. Limbaugh’s death, echoing other conservatives who remembered listening sessions in their childhood.
There is no doubt that his show continued to make an impact on the Slightly Less Online set, especially among working-class audiences whose jobs may not offer uninterrupted access to a social media platform during the business day. Mr Limbaugh even made some headlines in December when he contemplated the nation “might be leaning towards secession”.
But Mr. Limbaugh’s comment today – while still indecent and unrepentant – was often indistinguishable from that of dozens of other experts.
“He created the genre that then flooded the market with competitors, some less talented, some more,” said Ann Coulter, the conservative provocateur. “Only one person can be the pioneer – but after that it’s dog-eat-dog.” (Even Fox News, which long held the monopoly on conservative television, was now forced to compete against emerging rivals like Newsmax, who appealed to far-right viewers.)
Dependent on a publicly traded conglomerate for his paycheck, Mr. Limbaugh was also committed to company policies that friskier online platforms could happily ignore. After the election, Mr. Limbaugh defended President Trump’s lies about electoral fraud – and only insisted on inauguration day that Joseph R. Biden Jr. “didn’t win this thing fair and fair” – but stopped calling for violence . It was a guest on “The Alex Jones Show” who specifically urged supporters to “occupy the Capitol”.