Sleep Train Mattress Centers has cut its longtime ties with conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, two days after his controversial on-air comments calling a college law student a "slut" and a "prostitute."
Sleep Train officials were unavailable Friday, but issued a statement confirming that they will no longer advertise with the nationally syndicated radio program.
"As a diverse company, Sleep Train does not condone such negative comments directed toward any person. We have currently pulled our ads with Rush Limbaugh," the statement said.
Friday's announcement brings to a sudden end a relationship dating back to Limbaugh's run at Sacramento's KFBK (1530 AM) in the 1980s.
Sleep Train was a tiny outfit when founder Dale Carlsen was introduced to Limbaugh through a radio advertising representative.
"The ad guy said, 'Now he's a little bit controversial, but he needs a bed, would you take care of him?' " Carlsen told The Bee in 2006. "I needed every sale that I could get at that time, so I said, 'Yeah, bring him in and I'll take care of him.' "
That first contact led to Limbaugh becoming the company's on-air pitchman.
The voluble commentator soon became a media sensation, drawing national syndication and millions of listeners with his provocative and influential brand of conservative talk radio, and he continued to do ads for Sleep Train.
Meanwhile, Sleep Train grew into a household name in Sacramento and a multimillion-dollar brand, posting more than $313 million in sales in 2010, according to the trade journal Furniture Today.
Today, Sleep Train has more than 250 outlets on the West Coast under its Sleep Train, Sleep Country and Mattress Discounters banners.
Limbaugh's controversial on-air comments about law student Sandra Fluke, who testified last week on Capitol Hill about contraceptive coverage, upset many Sleep Train customers, who let the company know about it through its website and social media.
A brief Twitter message posted Friday on the Sleep Train website thanked customers for their "concern and input," adding, "We are currently pulling all ads with Rush Limbaugh."
The White House policy requiring religion-affiliated institutions to give employees access to health insurance that covers birth control has stoked fierce debate over reproductive rights and religious freedom.
Fluke has been in Limbaugh's cross hairs since her testimony. "What does it say about Sandra Fluke?" Limbaugh said Wednesday on his radio program. "What does it make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute."
Calls to Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates the Rush Limbaugh Show, were not returned.