Rush Limbaugh still on top of Talkers talk show rankings for 10th year

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rush Limbaugh remains top dog on the Talkers magazine most influential radio show hosts, a spot he's held for ten consecutive years.

His audience has gotten smaller and older over the years, but the magazine estimates he still draws at least 13.25 million listeners a week. That's down from 15 million as recently as 2012.

Limbaugh, who can be heard locally on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, has to negotiate a new deal with Premiere Networks for 2017. He last signed an eight-year deal worth $400 million in 2008.

The Talkers magazine Heavy Hundred list is heavily subjective but does take in audience size in its consideration. Among the factors: courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness. The only firm qualification: the host must be on a terrestrial or satellite service.

This excludes programs that are only podcasts, although in this day and age, podcasters now have greater reach and influence in many cases than old-fashioned radio hosts. (The top 10 podcasts in 2015 does include some traditional hosts such as Terry Gross and Dave Ramsey, as well as Atlanta-based Stuff You Should Know.)

The No. 2 host remains Sean Hannity, who has been nipping at Limbaugh's heels for many years. Also heard on WSB, he has an estimated audience of 12.5 million plus.

The highest ranked Atlanta-based host is Clark Howard at No. 46. (He's been as high as 27.) Following him at No. 55 is Herman Cain. Both are heard on WSB. Surprisingly, local host Erick Erickson did not make the cut despite his national footprint.

The top minority host at No. 8 is Joe Madison, heard on Sirius XM. The top female talk show host is Laura Ingraham at No. 20. (Remember Dr. Laura Schlessinger? She was ranked No. 4 in 2009. Now she's at 53.)

Howard Stern, who signed a new five-year deal that guarantees his presence on Sirius/XM through 2020, ranked No. 6. He was the last person not named Limbaugh to top the chart in 2006, about the time he left FM radio for Sirius.

Sports talk hosts have a separate list, which will come out later this year.

Here's the top 10 hosts, with show times, all weekdays

1- Rush Limbaugh, heard locally noon to 3 p.m. WSB

2- Sean Hannity, heard locally 3 to 5 p.m., 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. WSB

3- Dave Ramsey, heard locally 2 to 5 p.m. 640/WGST-AM

4- Mark Levin, heard locally 7 to 10 p.m., NewsRadio 106.7

5- Glenn Beck, heard locally 9 a.m. to noon, WGST

6- Howard Stern, heard locally on Sirius/XM, channels 100 and 101

7- Michael Savage, heard locally 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 1160/WCFO-AM

8- Joe Madison, heard on Sirius XM Urban View

9- Thom Hartmann, heard on his website, not on any Atlanta radio station

10- Mike Gallagher, heard from 9 a.m. to noon, AM/920 The Answer

2009 rankings

2010 rankings

2011 rankings

2012 rankings

2014 rankings

2015 rankings

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.