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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative commentator and longtime talk radio host Dana Loesch has signed a new three-year deal with Radio America, a conservative talk radio network, Loesch tells Axios.

Details: Loesch's new contract will keep the ‘The Dana Show’ at the 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. time-slot, where she used to directly compete with the late Rush Limbaugh.

  • "I do feel that I'm well-positioned to fill the void," says Loesch. "I've been in this slot for years and if there's any program positioned to do it, it's mine."

Catch up quick: Radio America first decided to syndicate Loesch's show nationally during the same hours as Limbaugh in 2014.

  • At the time, "Rush's show was so big and so powerful that there were very few competitors in his time slot," Radio America chief operating officer Mike Paradiso tells Axios.
  • "When we did it, we were really one of the few to directly challenge him. In the markets where she did compete head to head with him, Dana has done very well over the last few years," Paradiso said.

Why it matters: Loesch is one of several conservative talk show hosts eager to fill the void at the 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. time slot following Limbaugh's death last month.

  • Last week, Cumulus Media's Westwood One announced that Dan Bongino, the conservative podcaster and personality, would host a new show called "The Dan Bongino Show," also in Limbaugh's old time slot Monday-Friday.
  • Loesch's show will be aired in close to 200 markets nationwide, Paradiso tells Axios. Bongino's show will launch in 24 markets nationwide, per Westwood One, including in places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
  • "The Rush Limbaugh Show" is distributed across more than 600 stations nationwide by Premiere Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia.

Be smart: Hundreds of radio stations around the country are eagerly waiting to see whom Premiere Networks will put in Limbaugh's old time slot.

  • Paradiso says most stations are waiting to see who Premiere might permanently replace Limbaugh's slot with, so that they can determine whether to air programming from Premiere Networks with a new host, Westwood One with Bongino as host, Radio America with Loesch as host, or another network, like Cox, with Erick Erickson as host.
  • On Tuesday, Premiere Networks confirmed that it would continue to air old clips from ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show," with rotating guest hosts for now.

Amid the competition, Loesch is the incumbent. But she's competing against newcomers like Bongino that have made names for themselves on digital channels like Facebook and with podcasts.

  • "I do think it's one thing to have a podcast, but to do radio, to be able to entertain for hours straight like that — three hours straight and do breaking news — that's very much a skill, and it's honed over a period of time," she says.
  • "I like the competition, and I'm the only woman that's doing it. Out of all these dudes I still feel like I have the biggest cigar, so to speak," Loesch added.

The big picture: Limbaugh's death came in a moment of crisis for the radio industry that he helped pioneer.

  • Terrestrial radio still reaches more people than any other type of medium in the U.S. — largely thanks to cars — but its business model has collapsed in the streaming era.
  • Radio revenues dropped nearly 25% last year amid the pandemic. Analysts predict a much smaller rebound for radio this year than other traditional ad mediums, like billboards and national TV.

What to watch: Radio networks are under pressure to capture the attention of younger audiences. "We're at the sea-change moment," says Paradiso. "At some point, the stations need to make a shift to bring in younger listeners." 

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

2 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."

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