I started listening to Rush my freshman year in college, 1991. I wasn’t an everyday listener, but when I got on the highway coming home to Kansas City from Manhattan on the weekends I’d always find myself tuning in because I’d leave Manhattan about the time his show came on and it was about a two-hour drive back then. He had a segment called “open line Fridays” that was always informative. Callers could call his show that day and talk about anything they wanted to talk about. I learned a lot by listening to callers ask Rush questions and engage with him. It was fun to listen to.
I’m not sure what exactly attracted me to the show at first. I was never a guy to listen to music in the car, other than my barbershop music. I always liked sports and before listening to Rush I was never much into politics other than watching the nightly news. He talked about many things going on in the country and the world and always added his “two cents.” The interaction he had with his callers was great and I heard some awesome conversations about life and what being an American means to them. He talked a lot about the Constitution and I may have learned more about the Constitution from Rush than any college professor has ever taught me. This is something Rush is not known for, but he knew a lot about history and the founding of America and the founding fathers. I bonded with him in that way, because I love history as well. As he was talking about history, I was very much enjoying listening.
After I graduated from college, I used to listen to Rush whenever I was in the car over my lunch hour. I still didn’t catch his whole show every day but tried to listen when I could. I didn’t always agree with him, but he was informative enough and intelligent enough that I enjoyed his takes on the news of the day.
I tell people all the time that Rush wasn’t as successful as he was because he sat and droned on about conservatism for three hours a day. A big reason his show took off is how he presented and proved the hypocrisy and lies of the media on his show daily. When his show first started growing in popularity, there was no internet to speak of, there was no streaming, were no podcasts, and no recording of the show to speak of. Members of the “mainstream” media, or “drive-by media” as he liked to call them, would always take something he said out of context and report that he was a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, or whatever “phobe” you can think of by playing an out of context snippet of something he said. Rush reveled in this because every time the media falsely reported what he said, he’d get on the air the next day and call them out for it. It was great. He did this almost daily. It became less of a phenomenon when he was able to record and post his entire show every day because the media knew they couldn’t tell so many lies about him and get away with it. But his listeners were in on the joke, which was great.
The reason he called the media the “drive-by” media is, as he explained, because media reporters today are mostly lazy. It’s like if there was a bad accident on the side of the road, a media person might “drive-by” it in their news van and submit a news report without having all, or any, of the details about the wreck. That’s how they get so many stories wrong. It’s a perfect indictment on the media then and now. I would guess they’ll never learn because Rush was able to prevent examples of this on his show every day for 30 plus years.
I would only catch Rush occasionally until about five years ago when Donald Trump came along to run for President. Rush had Trump pegged from the beginning, and I made it a point to try to listen every day. Rush understood not only Donald Trump, but his supporters, and most importantly the “Never Trumpers,” Democrats, and media outlets that despised him. He lived through the same attacks from these people for 30 years. Since he understood what was happening and what was going to happen, it was so much fun to listen to him talk about and correctly predict future events. He knew even before the election that if the Democrats ever took over the House, they would impeach Trump. He said they would concoct any reason they could find to do it, which is exactly what they did. He understood all of it so intimately and made it great to listen to.
There was a caller to a local talk show the other day. His name was Jorge and he emigrated to the United States in 1991. I instantly related to the year, because that’s when I started listening to Rush and it was also my freshman year in college. Jorge said his English at the time was not the best, so he listened to talk radio to help him learn English. He found the Rush Limbaugh show and listened to him every day. He started getting emotional and breaking down when discussing what Rush Limbaugh meant to him. He said when he listened to Rush it was “like he was reading my mind.” I could relate to that as well.
I try to ignore the haters I see on social media, but it’s hard to do. If you come across someone who is reveling in the death of Rush Limbaugh, it is probably best to ignore them and write them off as an ignoramus. Rush never took himself or the world very seriously anyway and he used humor to communicate. He would probably just laugh at those people. When President Trump gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union, I noticed the look of disgust on Nancy Pelosi’s face along with a lot of her fellow Democrats. I found it rude and obnoxious, but when Rush got back on his show to talk about the experience he laughed at her reaction. I mean, he LOVED it! I have some thick skin, but Rush’s was much thicker than mine.
Another amazing thing about Rush is that was nearly deaf and in the last 12 months was dying of cancer. However, his show never suffered because of it. Sure, sometimes he had trouble hearing a caller and sometimes his voice was a bit gravelly, but he was still putting out a great product even though he was suffering greatly. I’m not sure that I could do that or if anyone else could do that. Such a pro.
This got kind of long, but those are just a few of my thoughts. RIP, Rush Limbaugh. You were the greatest and there will never be anyone else like you. You will be missed.