Rush Limbaugh talks big payday

Radio host will get $400 million in contract extension

Rush Limbaugh and Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks have agreed to a contract extension that will pay the conservative talk-radio pundit more than $400 million through 2016.

The eight-year extension includes a $100 million signing bonus, Limbaugh told the New York Times. The deal comes about a month before the broadcaster celebrates 20 years in syndication Aug. 8.

One of the highest-rated programs on radio, the daily three-hour "The Rush Limbaugh Show" reaches about 20 million listeners weekly and plays on about 600 stations nationwide.

"This is exactly where I want to be, doing what I was born to do, with an amazing audience and phenomenal support from affiliate stations and sponsors," Limbaugh said. "There's a relationship between the audience and the host here that is second to none. We're going to continue to provide broadcast excellence and have a lot of fun along the way."

Said Premiere Radio Networks president Charlie Rahilly: " 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' enjoys an unprecedented platform of radio affiliates. Plus, advertisers harness the intensity of listener engagement. No one's word of mouth about a product or service delivers more impact than Mr. Limbaugh's."

The 90-second weekday commentary "The Rush Limbaugh Morning Update," the monthly "Limbaugh Letter" and, which includes the subscription service, will continue under Premiere's purview as part of the agreement.

Limbaugh's existing contract, which was worth $285 million over a nine-year period, was set to expire next year, the Times said. The new deal is believed to be the most expensive in radio since 2004, when Sirius Satellite Radio paid Howard Stern $500 million for five years.

The deal would appear to come at a good time for Clear Channel, which has been negotiating for months to close a buyout deal that would take the company private.

Wednesday's announcement comes amid speculation that Premiere will also be involved in a new deal with conservative host Sean Hannity, who is now syndicated by ABC Radio Networks.