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Rush Limbaugh was ‘very important’ to KMOX. His death forces a big decision.

Posthumous media reports have estimated Limbaugh's audience at 15 million people a week

ST. LOUIS — After carrying Rush Limbaugh's radio program for more than 26 years, KMOX must now decide how to proceed after the right-wing host's death last Wednesday at 70.

Becky Domyan, senior vice president and St. Louis market manager for KMOX owner Entercom (NYSE: ETM), didn't respond to a request for comment. An Entercom spokesman, David Heim, said, "We are not ready to announce programming updates as it relates to Rush Limbaugh at this time."

By all accounts, it's a big decision for the downtown St. Louis-based station.

New York-based Nielsen Corp., which provides ratings information, said the program was fifth in its 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. time slot among St. Louis stations this past fall, but that it had been No. 1 as recently as 2018.

But even those figures, based on the number of adults age 18 and older listening, can be deceptive since advertisers seek out more narrow demographics, said McGraw Milhaven, program director at rival radio station KTRS and a former KMOX host.

"Rush Limbaugh was very important to KMOX radio," Milhaven said, adding that the Missouri native was a "ratings bonanza." Posthumous media reports have estimated Limbaugh's audience at 15 million people a week.

Right now, KMOX continues to air the program, which has opted for remembrances of Limbaugh presented by guest hosts.

Rachel Nelson, a spokeswoman for Premiere Networks, the iHeartMedia (NASDAQ: IHRT) subsidiary that employed Limbaugh, said in a statement that it plans "to provide the millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush Limbaugh for long term," and will utilize guest hosts including Mark Steyn, Todd Herman and Ken Matthews

"With over 30 years of audio, Rush has a definite view on current issues of the day," Nelson said.

KMOX started airing Limbaugh's show in 1994, luring him away from Belleville radio station WSDZ, which then went by the call letters WIBV.

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