Archive for June 2nd, 2024

The Sunday Share: Songs which have been theme songs for talk radio: Rush Limbaugh

For the majority of Rush Limbaugh’s 30+ years on the air, th instrumental portions of this song greeted the airwaves at six past the hour, three times per day, five days per week. It became as much an icon of the American media landscape as Rush himself. There was a clever edit at about the 30 second mark to jump to another instrumental section around the 2:28 mark which was Rush’s cue to begin talking.

Rush picked this song as his theme song primarily due to its strong unique bass line, but the irony of a conservative using a very anti-conservative song wasn’t lost on him. There’s a funny loophole in the way royalties work in American radio that using a short clip of a song doesn’t necessarily result in a requirement to pay royalties for its use, so Limbaugh, albeit playing 40-ish seconds of the song across hundreds of radio stations, used the song royalty-free for many years. Eventually EMI issued a cease-and-desist order and Limabugh temporarily stopped using the song. However the song’s writer Chrissie Hynde was interviewed and stated her parents loved Limbaugh’s show and she didn’t mind her music being used in that way. It also helped that around that time, Rush was vocally opposing a plan by the EPA to test chemicals on animals, putting him in rare agreement with PETA which was one of Chrissie Hynde’s favourite organisations, so a payment arrangement was reached and Rush used the song forever more.

After Rush’s passing, the theme song continued to be used during the guest hosts which filled his timeslot and for about a year by Travis Clay and Buck Sexton whose show Premiere Radio moved into Rush’s old timeslot. They now use a different piece of music.

40-odd seconds of intro music might seem like an awful lot, but for whatever reason it has been the standard in syndicated talk radio in the US for a long time. My theory is that as they generally run on a 40 second delay, allowing them to dump a short portion of the delay if necessary without coming out of delay completely, having the long intro allows the show’s producers to be entirely sure they are in delay when the broadcast begins. It also allows affiliate stations to be a little bit late getting into the show without missing anything, and run their own idents over the intro. One of the best examples of this is from this clip from KXNT Las Vegas in 2009 (April 27, to be precise) where the board operator did a masterful job of crossfading the weather bed with Rush’s into under newsreader Kristen Flowers and putting a hybrid station ID / Rush show announcement to air over the intro before Rush began to speak.

Samuel

Add comment June 2nd, 2024 at 04:55pm


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