After failing and then basically being kicked out of the Philadelphia radio market, national conservative political talk is back in Philly. Entertainers including Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (and Larry Mendte, too) quietly debuted on 106.9 FM, the former home of rapture-happy Harold Camping, in April. The station was recently bought by former Chicago Tribune owner Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media, which has rebranded it “IQ 106.9: Fighting for Freedom from the Fortress of Free Speech.”
Why here? Why now? One need look no further than President Obama—OBAMA 1260, that is: a former progressive radio talk station in Washington, D.C., which thrived during the 2008 campaign season, then crashed and burned, changing its format a mere two weeks after the president’s inauguration—having proved that the short-term ratings bump was well worth it in ad dollars. Which means that now, with a Democratic incumbent, conservative radio is a surefire way to make money. That the talent Michaels recruited for the station has failed in Philly before is of no consequence—you’d be a fool to not realize that as the horse race heats up between Obama and Romney, partisan rhetoric and media coverage will, too. What happens after Jan. 20, 2013, though, is anyone’s guess.