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The World’s Highest-Paid Radio Hosts 2017
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Howard Stern tops Forbes highest-paid radio hosts list for the third year in a row.

Talk isn’t cheap. Just ask the world’s highest-paid radio stars.

The controversial Howard Stern leads the pack once again with a $90 million haul, earned between June 1, 2016, and June 1, 2017, before taxes and management fees. Stern, who is one of America’s wealthiest celebrities with a net worth of $450 million, renegotiated his eight-figure contract with SiriusXM in December 2015. The deal includes digital distribution channels like apps and video streaming, which could pad Stern’s paycheck in the future.

Runner-up Rush Limbaugh, who pocketed $84 million, enjoyed a 21% increase in listeners to his eponymous show thanks to a “Trump bump.” The most-listened-to talk show host in America, with 14 million listeners by Talkers Magazine’s estimate, he was far from the only one to get this ratings boost. Overall industry over-the-air advertising revenue did not improve last year, hovering at $14.1 billion, according to BIA Kelsey, but the news-talk category saw an uptick, which the advisory firm attributed to the presidential election.

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The World’s Highest-Paid Radio Hosts 2017

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Ryan Seacrest rounds out the top three with $58 million. In addition to hosting his Premiere Networks program, the busiest man in show business co-hosted Live! alongside Kelly Ripa and helmed coverage of red carpets, the Rio Olympics and New Year’s Eve. Seacrest’s earnings will surely rise with his return to American Idol in the 2017-18 TV season.

Combined, the six members of the list earned a whopping $315 million in 12 months. But the healthy paychecks of the world’s highest-paid radio hosts belies the turbulence the radio industry is experiencing amid technological change.

“The future of radio as primarily AM/FM institution is rapidly approaching its expiration date as it, like so many other iconic media, moves to the digital space,” says Michael Harrison, founder of Talkers Magazine. “In the online world of the 21st century, many styles of talk radio will continue to thrive. I’m afraid I cannot say the same thing about music radio.”

Glenn Beck barely made the cut with $10 million, the threshold for the list. This is our lowest estimate for Beck since we started tracking his earnings in 2009. This past year has been turbulent for Beck’s conservative media empire. He recently laid off more than 20% of staff at TheBlaze, his news organization, and Mercury Radio Arts, his production company.

Beck is still one of the most popular radio talk show hosts in America with 10.5 million listeners by Talkers’ estimate, but his “Never Trump” stance has harmed his bottom line. In May 2016, Beck was suspended by SiriusXM for a week after a guest was accused of hinting Donald Trump, if elected president, could be assassinated. Almost exactly a year later, the Glenn Beck Program was removed from SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel 125. Unless Beck can right the ship, this may be his last year on the highest-paid radio hosts list.

Earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, NPD Bookscan and PollstarPro, as well as interviews with industry insiders. All figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted.

See The Full List: World’s Highest-Paid Radio Hosts

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