The relationship between the music industry and radio has been changing drastically ever since iTunes came along and showed people another way they could consume their music. This was apparent when the ipod became the number one selling music device on the planet. The way people consumed music and radio was without a doubt going through a seismic shift.
Talk radio has gone through a similar transformation. Podcasts are widely available across the Internet and are generally free. If someone wants to take one of his or her favorite shows on the go it’s easier than ever. Comedians like Joe Rogan and Adam Carolla have built huge followings releasing a steady stream of podcasts free of charge. Their money generally comes from in-show advertisements.
With the emergence of Satellite and Internet radio services such as SiriusXM and Spotify, the scope of the technology has broadened. Satellite radio service SiriusXM went through a major merger to become the only satellite radio service. Which means they can broadcast their signal worldwide and control their own market. It has provided an alternative to terrestrial radio, which is regulated by the government.
With mobile and online listening emerging as it has, especially with young listeners, it’s easy to think the idea of public radio might be losing ground. Yet, there are still a lot of listeners in radio who want to hear interesting original stories, the kind that This American Life and other public radio shows excel at. But even the public radio format has gotten hip with the times and some of their most popular shows are often available in podcast form.
Conservative talk radio has many of the highest-rated shows in the medium. A resurgence in the format began in the 1990’s and it continues to dominate progressive talk radio. Conservative shows vastly outnumber progressive radio programs and usually have two to three channels in each market compared to one progressive channel. As you’ll see on this list, conservative radio hosts hold many of the largest audiences in radio.
With the current state of radio being as diluted and fractured as it is, there are still voices and broadcasters who come out above the rest. They are the ones who have built huge audiences, who broadcast to millions of people. They have figured out a way to insert their unique personality into the public consciousness. The most influential radio personalities are the ones who have carved out a particular niche, which has helped elevate their voices above the rest of the chatter.
10 Ira glass
9 Dr. Laura
8 Terry Gross
Terry Gross is the host of Fresh Air, which is distributed by National Public Radio. Her show is listened to by 4.5 million people weekly. She’s been at the helm for over 35 years and the mainstay of her program has always been in-depth, probing interviews of prominent figures in the art, entertainment, and culture fields.
7 Laura Ingraham
Laura Ingraham hosts The Laura Ingraham Show, which launched in 2001. She had an audience of over 6 million listeners at her peak and is considered one of the leading female conservative voices in the nation. She was a part of conservative magazine Newsmax's "25 most influential women in the GOP" list.
6 Dave Ramsey
The Dave Ramsey Show is a three-hour broadcast, which has an audience in the neighborhood of eight million listeners. He is syndicated across 500 radio stations throughout North America. He has four New York Times best-selling books.
4 Sean Hannity
3 Ryan Seacrest
2 Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh is one of the most prominent conservative voices in the U.S. and has been for quite some time. When his career began in the 1970’s he was fired from multiple radio stations because as a news commentator he was seen as too controversial. Since The Rush Limbaugh Show took off, Limbaugh has become one of the highest paid people in media. In 2008 he signed a deal that was worth somewhere in the vicinity of $400 million, which would take him through 2016. In 2012 “talkers magazine” listed Limbaugh as the highest rated talk show host, with 15 million listeners weekly.
1 Howard Stern
Midway through his career, Howard Stern proclaimed himself the “King of all media” as a sort parody to Micheal Jackson famously declaring himself the “King of Pop”. The name stuck, however, and soon Stern was turning his raunchy humor into a full-fledged media empire. He became unbeatable in the ratings, moving to Washington D.C. and asserting himself as the number one disk jockey there. He was lured to New York and became a phenomenon, where his show was syndicated across the country to over 20 million listeners PER DAY at its peak.
He now resides in the world of satellite radio, controlling two channels at SiriusXM. Many are still afraid to sit opposite Howard Stern, as he has a tendency to conduct some of the most revealing interviews in the business. His ability to coax some of the most intimate details out of people’s lives is part of what has helped stern maintain such a large and dedicated audience all these years. His latest deal at Sirius XM was reportedly worth $400 million over five years, which would take him through to 2015.
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