For the fourth year in a row, Rush Limbaugh is the most influential radio talk show host, according to Talkers magazine.
Limbaugh draws at least 15 million listeners a week. He remains the top-rated show on 640/WGST-AM. He’s had a field day going after Pres. Obama and the Democrats this past year. And he continues to be influential without the benefit of Fox News, which has fueled the growth of No. 2 host Sean Hannity (14 million weekly radio fans and two to three million viewers per night on Fox News) and No. 3 host Glenn Beck (9 million-plus listeners on radio and two to three million viewers per night on Fox News).
Beck’s influence has grown exponentially just in the year he’s been on Fox News and Talkers moved him up to No. 3 from No. 5 as a result.
This is not a scientific survey or poll. The magazine used the following criteria: courage, effort, impact, longevity, potential, ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness.
Four Georgia-based talk show hosts made the Top 100: WSB-AM’s Neal Boortz, Clark Howard and Allen Hunt and Athens talk-show host Martha Zoller.
Conservative-leaning Libertarian Boortz, whose ratings on WSB from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Atlanta have slipped the past year, edged up to No. 13 after falling from 9 to 10 to 14 the previous three years.
Consumer expert Howard, heard after Boortz on WSB from 1 to 4 p.m., slipped to 28 from 27, 30 and 27 the prior three years despite having a solid year in terms of affiliate growth.
Former pastor Allen Hunt, who recently started a national weekday show but continues to operate locally on weekends on WSB-AM, debuted at No. 41 last year and moves up to 37.
Martha Zoller, who moved from WDUN-AM to WXKT-FM a few months ago in the Athens area, is a regular on various cable news shows. She debuted last year at No. 91 and moves up to 89.
Michael Savage, heard from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on WSB-AM, is ranked No. 4, down from 3.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, on from 1 to 3 p.m. on 1160/WCFO-AM in Atlanta, falls a slot to No. 5.
She’s not to be confused with Laura Ingraham, who is also on WCFO-AM from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The conservative talker holds at No. 6.
Dave Ramsey, the consumer/money management advocate, now has a show on Fox Business and holds at No. 7 after climbing from 12 in 2008 and 21 in 2007.
Growing conservative talker Mark Levin, at No. 8, is now the evening syndicated host on 640/WGST from 7 to 11 p.m.
Lou Dobbs, the crusty independent who lost his CNN show last year but continues to do a radio show, slips from 8 to 9. He’s heard from 7 to 9 p.m. on WCFO in Atlanta.
At No. 10 is the top liberal talker Thom Hartmann. He’s not heard locally.
Mancow, heard on WCFO from 3 to 7 p.m. is ranked No. 14, down from No. 9. Legal expert Bill Handel, heard on weekends on WSB-AM, is at No. 18.
Mike Gallagher, on air from 8 to noon on 920/WGKA-AM, is No. 19, down from 15 in 2009 and 9 in 2008 and 8 in 2007.
Don Imus, on mornings on WCFO, keeps falling, from 7 to 20 to 21. Michael Medved, heard from 3 to 6 p.m. on WGKA, falls to 23 from 21 and 20 the past two years. WGKA morning host Bill Bennett holds at No. 25 for the fourth year in a row. Howard Stern, who presides over at Sirius XM, holds at 32. When he was on FM radio in 2006, he ranked No. 1. (Bubba the Love Sponge, who is on Sirius XM and FM, is at No. 45)
Weekend tech gal Kim Komando, heard locally on WSB-AM, is at No. 39, down from 24 in 2007, 36 in 2008 and 37 in 2009. Dennis Prager, heard from noon to 3 on WGKA, is at No. 40. Hugh Hewitt, on at 6 to 9 p.m. on WGKA, is at No. 67, up from 71.
Terry Gross, host of “Fresh Air” and heard at 7 p.m. weekdays on WABE-FM, is ranked No. 70.
Talkers also lists 150 other radio personalities in a miscellaneous 101-250 list. Most are not heard here. The only Atlanta-based crew to make it is the 2 Live Stews, heard from 1 to 4 p.m. on 790/The Zone and syndicated on Sporting News Radio. Syndicated Colin Cowherd, heard on 680/The Fan from 10 to noon weekdays, is also included.
Syndicated morning hosts Tom Joyner (Kiss 104.1) Steve Harvey (Majic) and Rickey Smiley (Hot) are more entertainers than talk show hosts so they are not on the list. Syndicated Rev. Al Sharpton and Warren Ballentine on WAOK-AM get no love either.