Limbaugh recently celebrated his 15th year in radio and is also the industry's biggest star, garnering top ratings for many of the 650 stations that run his three-hour afternoon talk show and boasting 20 million listeners every week. But in early October, the radio commentator suffered professional and personal reverses. First, he quit ESPN's "Sunday Night Football" after a controversial on-air stint where he took Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to task for his on-field performance. And then, as rumors circulated that Limbaugh was being investigated by authorities in Palm Beach County, Fla., in a drug probe, he told listeners that he was addicted to prescription pain medication. Limbaugh said he was going to check himself into a rehab hospital for treatment of drug addiction.
The talk show host's name came up Tuesday morning during a conference call discussing third-quarter earnings at Clear Channel Communications, the huge radio station owner that also owns the Premiere Radio Networks unit that produces Limbaugh's show. A Clear Channel executive said that Limbaugh should be out of the rehab hospital within seven to 10 days and that a full recovery is expected.
A Clear Channel spokeswoman told MediaDailyNews late Tuesday that Limbaugh would return to the airwaves on Nov. 17. Guest hosts have been filling in while Limbaugh was away.
John Hogan, chief executive officer of Clear Channel Radio, said there hasn't been much of a financial fallout since Limbaugh has been away. No stations have left the fold and no advertisers have dropped either, Hogan said.
"During his absence, we have maintained 100 percent of our affiliate base, and we have maintained our advertiser base," Hogan said. "This is an unfortunate turn of events for Rush, but our advertisers and our affiliate base have remained firmly behind him and we look forward to his return in the near future."