Talk Radio will do Fine if Rush Leaves
Notwithstanding Rush's contribution to the growth of talk and it's impact on "saving the AM" band, if he were to quit tomorrow, within a month the 500 plus talk radio stations carrying his show would adjust and carry on with some other right wing blow hard. I am sure that Premiere has several scenarios in place to deal with demise of Rush. The good news is that when Rush moves on, there will probably be an increase in local talk, as major talk stations try to lock in the high ratings they are currently getting from the early morning local talker.
Remember, the majority of stations that carry Rush also have a strong local talker leading in to his show. Despite this ideal situation, and the fact that Rush is carried on the strongest AM talker in most markets, his ratings have declined in the last half dozen years and his spot time has lost about half of its value.
When Rush moves on, there will not be a meltdown like we've seen with CBS stations trying to replace Howard Stern. Six months after Stern's departure, "Free FM" stations are getting shares that are only fraction of what they got for Stern's show. They are also spending a fortune to try to program this format. According to CBS President Rob Barnett they have hired over 30 hosts to incumbate the new format. The same will happen when Phil Hendres hangs is up in about a month.
Six months after Rush leaves the air, his time period will continue with virtually no ratings lose. In fact, if local talk starts appearing on former Rush stations, ratings will probably increase.