Cumulus Media, the second largest operator of radio stations in the
will be dropping popular conservative talkers Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity at
the end of the year, according to Dylan Byers at Politico.
Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.
The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.
Cumulus declined to comment: "Cumulus is not in a position to comment about negotiations with talent under contract, no matter what the rumor of the day might be," a spokesperson told Politico.
But in recent weeks, Cumulus has been quietly reaching out to radio talent agents and political insiders about new local and regional station hosts to fill some of the airtime on its stations that will be left vacant by Limbaugh and Hannity, industry sources said. Cumulus is also expected to move some of its existing talent -- which includes Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage -- into one of the slots.
Premiere, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday night, is expected to move Limbaugh and Hannity to other stations, many owned by its parent company Clear Channel Media+Entertainment, in many of the markets where they are currently signed with Cumulus.