Believe it or not, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio.
It was the late 1980s and I was working for the Claremont Institute in Southern California. I was taking a two-week vacation, traveling by car to Pittsburgh in my old Mazda GLC.
I left L.A. on a Sunday afternoon, drove to Las Vegas and spent the night there, then Monday morning I headed north on interstate 15 through the Nevada desert. My old car only had an AM/FM radio for entertainment.
So, manually turning the AM dial searching for a strong radio signal I came upon this guy talking about politics from a conservative point of view. “What the hell is this?,” I wondered in amazement. Media is not allowed to be conservative!
The host was spellbinding in his delivery. He was topical in his commentary. He was a great story-teller. And he was saying things that I had been thinking myself for years but never heard expressed on the radio or tv. When I lost the signal out of Las Vegas I picked him up again in St. George, Utah on a different station. When I lost that signal I picked him up again out of Salt Lake City. This guy was everywhere apparently. The next day I woke up in Denver, drove north to Cheyenne and then east into Nebraska. By mid-morning I could find him again on any of three or four stations along interstate 80 “all across the fruited plain.” This pattern continued nearly every weekday all the way to Pittsburgh and then back again on the return trip to Los Angeles.
I remember wondering which network Rush Limbaugh was part of. Was it CBS or NBC or ABC, or some new network? Apparently, he was part of the “EIB network“ which I had never heard of. I remember trying to look up the “EIB network” and not finding anything. I had never figured the possibility that one man could have created his own network.
Now he is history. Rush Limbaugh will occupy a space in American history no less monumental than Will Rogers or Johnny Carson.
In my mind, Rush was most poignant when talking about his own life, his own failures in his early life, and his struggle to ultimately succeed – just by being himself. I started listening to Rush when I was in my thirties, broke and at times unemployed. It was looking like my life might not turn out as well as my promising school career had suggested. But I got through those times, partly by listening to Rush and taking his life as an inspiration. I often think of him as inspiration even today, and I’m sure millions of others do as well. That I will never forget.
Rush Limbaugh R.I.P.