Last week, the Drudge Report reported rumors that Fox News stalwart Sean Hannity was getting booted from his prime-time slot in favor of Megyn Kelly.
Today, Mediate "learned from multiple talk radio sources" that Hannity will get the heave-ho from Cumulus radio, a rumor backed up by a brash Michael Savage:
I predict, right here, right now, that I Michael Savage and the Savage Nation is going to take over The Sean Hannity Show time slot by the end of the year. He's probably a nice guy, but his time is come and his time has gone. I am the heir apparent to afternoon drive on the East Coast and around America on Cumulus stations, which have the most powerful stations in the radio world. [Mediaite]
Has Sean Hannity lost his appeal among conservative viewers and listeners?
Not really. Hannity still blows away the competition in his 9 p.m. slot on Fox News, easily trouncing CNN's Piers Morgan and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
But his current audience may not be what his bosses are worried about. Indeed, his rumored ouster could simply be a reflection of Fox News chief Roger Ailes' plans for the future. Salon's Jordan Chariton points out that Fox News lost 11 percent of its younger viewers, ages 25 to 54, in the second quarter of 2013 compared to the same time last year.
Like the GOP, Fox News can't depend solely on older white males. Kelly is also beating CNN and MSNBC in her two-hour afternoon program America Live. Ailes has had nothing but praise for Kelly, recently telling Neil Cavuto, "Megyn has earned a better time period. She'll be in our prime-time lineup."
As The Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove notes, he was more vague when praising Hannity, whom he called "probably the nicest guy in the building." In the world of political punditry, that is not always a compliment.
In the end, replacing Hannity with Kelly just comes down to business, writes Erik Wemple at The Washington Post:
The world of cable news, however, is driven not by media critics' self-important quibbles, not by contacts, not by intangibles, not even by looks. It's driven by ratings, and they may explain why Kelly is moving into prime time… Fox News' prime-time viewership among that younger demographic is on a five-year skid. Ailes, often alleged to be a paranoid type, may well be guessing that the 42-year-old Kelly will pull in the youngsters more effectively than the 51-year-old Hannity. [The Washington Post]
As for Hannity's radio show, it still draws the second-biggest audience in talk radio, trailing only The Rush Limbaugh Show. The problem there is reportedly Hannity's $20 million a year salary. Savage might not beat Hannity's ratings, but Cumulus could ultimately see a higher profit margin by paying Savage less.
For his part, Hannity doesn't seem too fazed by the potential changes.
"I am actually enjoying people that really don't know a whole lot, just going nuts," Hannity said on his radio show. "Let's just say in the end, I'm very happy. That's all I can say at this point."