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Limbaugh, Hannity Still Tops on Talk Radio

Matt Purple | Correspondent | Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Limbaugh, Hannity Still Tops on Talk Radio

(CNSNews.com) - Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are still the most influential talk radio hosts in the business, according to one magazine's rankings of the nation's talkers.

The "2008 Heavy Hundred," published by Talkers Magazine, featured Limbaugh at the top of its list with Hannity in second place. Released annually, the rankings bear substantial influence in the radio industry.

"[Limbaugh and Hannity] are both extremely solid," Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers, told Cybercast News Service. "I think Rush Limbaugh could remain number one as long as he chooses to be in radio. He's in a class of his own."

"Hannity has been number two for years now to Rush, but that's an amazing accomplishment," he added.

Over 5,000 hosts are considered for the list, which are then weeded down to the top "Heavy Hundred," along with 150 runner-ups.

"Aside from the hosts whose sheer numbers and fame demand their inclusion on this list, the selection process is subjective, with the goal being to create a list reflective of the industry's diversity and total flavor, as well as giving credit where credit is due," according to the Talkers Magazine Web site.

Rounding off the top five of the rankings were Michael Savage in third, Dr. Laura Schlessinger in fourth, and Glenn Beck in fifth. They were followed by Laura Ingraham, Don Imus, Ed Schultz, Mike Gallagher, and Neal Boortz, respectively.

Two of the most popular liberal hosts on the list lost ground in the ratings compared to last year. North Dakota-based Ed Schultz dropped from fifth to eighth. Air America Radio's Randi Rhodes plummeted from 13th to 40th place.

Harrison explained that determining liberal hosts' positions on the list was more difficult than placing conservatives.

"It's a very subjective thing, determining the popularity of liberal hosts, because they have this sort of alternate universe they operate in," he said. "They have more importance because they're not a dime-a-dozen like so many conservatives out there."

Conservative talker and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck also gained substantial momentum, rising from 10th in 2007 to fifth in 2008. Harrison said Beck had become "an institution in the business" and attributed his appeal to his ability to connect with younger listeners, as well as his additional television exposure.

When asked what other talkers were rising stars on the "Heavy Hundred," Harrison pointed to Joe Madison of WOL, Bill Handel on KFI, and Chad Rice at WCCO.

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