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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

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Horrified": AP, Al Jazeera condemn Israel's bombing of their offices in Gaza

A ball of fire erupts from the Jalaa Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera on Saturday condemned the Israeli airstrike that destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza that housed their and other media offices.

What they're saying: The White House, meanwhile, said it had "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.

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