Conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh may move from WABC-77AM, his current broadcast home in New York City for more than 20 years, to WOR 770 AM, after broadcasting conglomerate Clear Channel Media announced it has bought the radio station on Monday.
“We have had a great run with WOR and could not be more confident that it is poised for another great run as part of the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment team,” Buckley Radio President & CEO Joseph Bilotta said in a press statement announcing the sale. Bilotta did not say how much the station was sold for.
WOR currently features a conservative talk radio line up, most notably firebrand Michael Savage, the venerable Gambling family dynasty, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. While no announcements have been made about changing the station’s lineup, it is suspected that Limbaugh, who is syndicated through a Clear Channel subdivision, could be moved to the station from WABC-77AM, which is owned by rival syndicator Cumulus Media, once his contract expires.
Cumulus is also the distributor of Huckabee’s show, which is being heavily marketed as a “new alternative” to Limbaugh.
A similar situation happened in the San Francisco radio market last February. Then, Limbaugh was moved from Cumulus-owned KSFO-AM to Clear Channel-owned KNEW-AM. The talk icon was replaced by former Arizona congressman and Tea Party favorite J.D. Hayworth.
Huckabee has now replaced Hayworth on the KSFO weekday lineup.
Joel Hollander, the former CEO of CBS Radio, predicted last March that 77 WABC would replace Limbaugh with Huckabee “the minute Cumulus’ contract with Rush expires in New York.”
At the time, Cumulus co-Chief Operating Officer John Dickey said that the syndicator has “no plans to drop Rush” from any of its stations and will “honor its contracts,” although some stations have agreed to swap the two talkers once their contracts with Limbaugh expire. Dickey declined to say which stations made the agreement.
Limbaugh, a prime target for Democrats and the political left in general throughout his career, has been under fire since last March after he called Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for testifying before Congress in favor of contraceptive rights. Although a boycott of his sponsors has fizzled out, several long-term advertisers stopped doing business with the talker.
Perhaps the most iconic brands in the broadcasting industry, WOR has played an important role in radio history since it began broadcasting in 1922. It was one of the first radio stations in America to use directional antenna to increase the scope and range of its broadcast; it was the first AM radio station in New York to broadcast with HD technology; and, at 50,000 watts, is one of the best radio broadcast signals in the United States.
WOR becomes Clear Channel’s sixth radio station in New York City, and its first AM signal. Among its New York possessions are the top-rated WLTW 106.7 (Lite-FM) and WHTZ (Z-100), the city’s number-one pop music outlet.