I remember the first time that I was aware of Rush Limbaugh.
This was before his television program, even. At the time, he was just starting his talk show… the very first day, I caught the show. At the time, there wasn’t very many stations, (particularly the big guns) that were willing to take a chance on him. The one that did in my area was a little 500 watt day-timer then on 1030, WYSL. (The place has since moved to 1040, and grown into a 20,000 w powerhouse.)
It didn’t take long though, for Rush to be moved from the little rimshotters to just about every 50,000 watt talker in the nation.
And so he went on to be at the top of that game for three decades…nobody in the history of radio has ever held that level of popularity for as long as Rush Limbaugh did.
The reason for that popularity he explained himself, suggesting that what he did was say what people were already thinking… Giving voice to conservatism in a way that certainly nobody else had ever done before. Not only was he unabashedly conservative, but he had a good time doing it.
It is absolutely impossible to overstate the impact Rush Limbaugh had on AM talk stations of the day, and in turn, on politics in America… which, again in turn, is why everyone to the right of Fidel Castro hated him with a passionate hate which also cannot be over emphasized.
The left tried emulating him, they even set up their own talk networks, trying desperately to capitalize on his formula. Well, of course, leaving out the most obvious element in his success… he was an actual conservative. As such, every one of those efforts failed miserably after only a couple of years, or in some cases as little as a couple of shows. Even leftist friends had to admit that he had a style that was attractive to any listener. All but the most fingers -in -the -ears liberal had difficulty arguing against any point that he made over the years.
Aside from the left, there were a large but dwindling number of GOP establishment types who tried to get Limbaugh fired, Limbaugh taken off the air, etc but to no avail. At the end of the day he was more popular and more persuasive than his opponents.
Rush Limbaugh was given the medal of freedom by President Donald Trump, an award which he richly deserved… and when you look at his face in the tapes of the State of the Union address that evening, you can see he genuinely appreciated the gesture.
And, yeah, I have to say that since I spent a number of years behind the microphone and understand the attraction of that lifestyle, that profession, him getting that award met a lot to me personally on an emotional level. But, of greater import than this, he has served his country well.
As it happens I wasn’t listening when his wife came on the radio program to announce his passing, a job which I wouldn’t wish on anyone but according to everyone I’ve spoken with she handled it well.
The tributes are now coming in like wildfire, and I suppose there’s no real point in linking to them all since you will doubtless find them on your own along with the usual hate messages that anybody who dares to be conservative will get,regardless of the circumstance. No point in dwelling on them. No class, anyway.
What happens now, with the movement that he started? Time, I suppose, will answer that one. But make no mistake, it is a movement and the movement remains. On that basis alone, Rush Limbaugh deserves a salute from every one of us.