Radio Icon and Legend Rush Limbaugh has passed away at 70.
Born Rush Hudson Limbaugh in Cape Girardeau, Missouri on January 12, 1951, Rush knew from an early age he wanted to work as a radio host and disc jockey.
He remarked, early on, “I’d get up in the morning, get ready to go to school, and I would dread it. I hated it. My mother would have the radio on. And the guy on the radio sounded like he was having so much fun. And I knew, when his program was over, he wasn’t going to go to school.”
Rush would find himself moving to Pittsburgh PA and eventually to Sacramento where he began to redefine his style from a music jock to a talk radio star. In between he even did a stint with the Kansas City Royals, in their PR department.
It was in Sacramento California that Rush was ‘discovered’ by ABC Radio’s, Ed McLaughlin and was brought to New York City to begin hosting a daily talk show on WABC in New York in 1988.
Rush became an instant lightning rod and an instant hit.
He would enter syndication with EFM Media management and would eventually spread from WABC to 660+ affiliates, predominately AM stations, facing great challenges in an FM world and at his peak claim 20 + million listeners a week.
An honorary member of the 1994 Republican Class in Congress, the first time in 40 years that the GOP took over the House, Rush’s rise was meteoric.
He found success in radio, television, publishing, both books and the legendary Limbaugh Letter, and a pioneer in video streaming with the Ditto Cam.
Great successes are common, but great staying power is far more rare!
Rush was uniquely poised for this very unique moment in broadcast history and he never forgot about the important business side of this equation.
On his pursuit of excellence he said, “I want the largest audience I can get, because that’s how I can charge the highest advertising rate. Which means what else do I want? Money. I am trying to earn a profit. It’s capitalism.”
It was vintage Rush bravado.
But he was also incredibly humble and outgoing, even to those who would follow in his footsteps.
And one of the things that makes me happiest and proudest is that the talk radio venue, the whole market has expanded. There are all kinds of people doing it.”
WBT’s Brett Winterble recalls his almost 11 years with Rush, first as a sales assistant in the business office at EFM media and then as a fulltime screener, a Snerdley of sorts.
“Rush was the hardest working broadcaster I have ever seen. He was committed to outdoing the show every single day and he never forgot where he came from and who his core audience was. He had a lifelong love affair with America and its potential. He motivated all of us to work as hard as we could so that we could experience the same feeling of success and reward.”
He was joined by Mike Schaefer, WBT’s Program Director, with this thought. “Few broadcasters have ever been as dedicated to their craft, and to their audience, as Rush Limbaugh was. I believe that will be the legacy he leaves to future broadcasters – put in the work, and put your audience first.”
Limbaugh has been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and during the 2020 State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
For 30 years Rush Limbaugh dominated the media landscape like no one else and for that radio fans past and present are better for having tuned in.
Rest in Peace, Rush Limbaugh.
January 12, 1951 – February 17, 2021