"On August 1, the EIB (Excellence in Broadcasting) Network premiered with its fifty-six radio stations and a total audience of 250,000 people...." - Rush Limbaugh, The Way Things Ought to BeThat was twenty years ago today. And twenty years later, The Rush Limbaugh Show is still going strong, with between 14-20 million listeners in a week (4 million at any one time) on over 600 stations. In addition, he has managed two books (which I have on my bookshelf), a 4-year run with his television show, and the copious content of RushLimbaugh.com.
No matter your opinion of him (you know who you are), there is no question that he has had a profound impact on talk radio and the political conversation in this country.
I first heard Rush back around 1990 or 1991. I was in high school at the time, and really hadn't though about politics in any meaningful way. Remember, this was a time before the Internet, and at the dawn of 24-hour news (CNN only). Most people got their national news from those anchors that came on at 6:30. If you needed to research something, it was either a trip to the library or that old set of encyclopedias that talked about Carter in terms of what his first four years would bring.
But here was someone talking about politics, from a point of view that I heard around the dining room table. And it was fun to listen too, to boot. To be honest, if it were a dry, analytical presentation, I'd have tuned his ass out. When Rush made the leap to TV (yes, there was a wide-angle lens involved (for you libs out there)), it was greatness, because here was more fun to watch. But in the end, what stayed was the entertainment value in the short term, and the analysis of political issues that stuck with me. Since those first years, I've had periods I've drifted away, found other radio shows, discovered 24-hour news on FoxNews, and discovered all the information (and Barackshit) that the Internet had to offer. And with more and more ideas and opinions, the most intelligent and fun-to-read blog ever conceived (this one(bask in the glow)) was born.
So yes, the tribute you are reading now exists because of my interest in politics, which stemmed from years of listening to Rush.
But the road has been rough at times. He has had two marriages end during the run of the show, suffered total hearing loss, and suffered back pain that led to his addiction to Oxycontin. He has had numerous controversies on-air as well. Yet despite these problems, he has not only maintained a successful show for two decades, he has been credited for reviving AM talk radio itself. And he shows no signs of stopping, having recently garnered a contract extension until 2016, worth $400 million.
So love him or hate him, it's time to congratulate The Most Dangerous Man in America on two decades of broadcast excellence.