On Monday, New York Times reporter Brian Stelter wrote that Rush Limbaugh would be leaving his Philadelphia affiliate WPHT, a 50,000-watt “clear channel” AM station, for the WKDN 106.9 FM signal in that market, .
Some on the political left had applauded the move as a victory. A press release sent out by Brad Tucker of Fenton Communications on Tuesday suggested the move occurred because of pressure from MoveOn.org, whose effort was part of a “Get Rush Limbaugh off the air at AM 1210 WPHT” petition which had “received 3,779 signatures.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Rush Limbaugh)
But Limbaugh spokesman Brian Glicklich disputed that claim, telling The Daily Caller that the change was already in the works prior to Limbaugh’s ill-advised February remarks about Georgetown Law student and self-described contraception activist Sandra Fluke.
“MoveOn’s latest claim is also their latest lie,” Glicklich told TheDC. “The station change in Philadelphia has already been discussed by CBS, and it has nothing to do with a tiny petition. Rush’s audience in Philadelphia is 200,000 weekly. Moveon.org is simply incapable of honesty.”
Although the effort didn’t succeed in getting Limbaugh “off the air,” as his show is moving to FM, it also could also be the result of a long-term change in direction for WPHT that started last year. As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in January 2011, the soon-to-be former Limbaugh affiliate had already dropped the Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity radio shows to make room for more local programming. WPHT is also the long-time flagship affiliate for Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies, which games were sometimes pre-empting Limbaugh’s program.
WKDN, Limbaugh’s new affiliate, does have a weaker signal — just 38,000 watts compared to WPHT’s 50,000 watts. After dark, WPHT can be heard all along the Eastern Seaboard. But that is likely of no importance to Limbaugh in the Philadelphia market since his show is broadcast during the day and his ratings in the local market trump all others.
Another source close to Limbaugh’s show told TheDC that although WPHT was “well managed,” it had “never been a top talk station in the ratings” and that Limbaugh’s move to FM make sense because of a different programming plan.