NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Some listeners still ask me ‘What happened to Michael Savage’? In case you don’t know, his program ended earlier this month after Savage won a two-year fight with his syndicator, Talk Radio Network. Savage wanted to get out of his contract, in hopes that another company would allow him to compete head-to-head with Rush Limbaugh in middays. Savage believes he could beat Rush.
No one in the radio industry takes this boast seriously. It’s one of the reasons Talk Radio Network refused their host’s request. Savage was TRN’s biggest program. Moving him against Rush would damage their best program. They would also lose many affiliates, since some stations (including WSAU) already carry Rush Limbaugh and would have to choose one show or another. Almost every station would choose Rush. A program director who drops Rush Limbaugh, and then gets beaten by him when a rival station picks up the show, will soon be out of a job.
This week Michael Savage returns to the airwaves. He has a new syndication deal with Cumulus.
His new employer is not putting him opposite Rush Limbaugh. Cumulus already distributes The Mike Huckabee Show, which also isn’t a threat to Rush. Instead Savage will be on even later at night. His new show airs from 9pm to midnight ET.
WSAU will not be airing the “new” Michael Savage Show. Why? For several reasons. Because I believe this is a time for WSAU to be forward-thinking. Michael Savage is towards the end of his broadcasting career. I’d rather invest time and effort promoting a show that may have a longer run and more upside. And, as a purely practical matter, contracts have already been signed and commitments have already been made to replace Savage. Those agreements are not easy to get out of. There was no communication from Savage about what his future held; his affiliates were told exactly what his audience was told via his web site, that he’d be off-air for ‘a substantial period of time’. We can’t keep a time slot open indefinitely under such vague circumstances.