Rush Limbaugh passed away from Stage IV lung cancer. Rush leaves this world as a man who revolutionized talk radio, inspired millions, and racked up accomplishment after accomplishment. In honor of Rush, we have compiled a few of Rush’s greatest accomplishments throughout his life and career in radio.
Rush Was the Living Embodiment of the American Dream
Rush wasn’t handed anything on a silver platter when it came to his career. He got his first radio job at the age of 16 in his hometown in Missouri. He went to college for two semesters at Southeast Missouri State University before dropping out to pursue a career in radio full time. Rush struggled to find a home at any station for not one, not two, but twenty years. Taft Broadcasting even told him that he would never be a successful on air host. Rush was so despondent at a certain point that he abandoned radio for a brief time and became the director of promotions for the Kansas City Royals. Despite all of the early struggles, Rush kept at it. He experimented with different styles of hosting, learned about the strengths and weaknesses of radio, and developed an idea of who his true audience was. When he got his big break (an offer to host a show for WABC in New York) while hosting in Sacramento, he was ready to capitalize on it.
One Radio Show for 30 Years
As someone who used to work in radio, there is one thing that always holds true: things are always changing. Whether its shows being moved around in the lineup or hosts replacing one another, radio is a chaotic environment. But Rush was the exact opposite. He was the host for the same show (The Rush Limbaugh Show) for thirty years. That is unheard of. Regardless of how successful people in radio are, they generally move around, change shows, or change times. But Rush was the paradigm of consistency. From noon to 3 P.M. Monday-Friday, you could tune in and hear Rush’s booming voice blaring out of your radio for thirty years. That is nothing short of remarkable.
Rush Time was Prime Time
Despite not being on air during a prime time, the Rush Limbaugh Show essentially printed money. Rush reeled in over 20 million listeners per week on a show that aired in the middle of the day. Normally stations would put their best personalities/shows on air from 6 A.M. to 9 A.M. That was prime time because people were in their cars commuting to work. But Rush changed the game with the success he had in the middle of the working day. This led to radio stations beginning to rethink how they planned their daily lineups.
Rush’s crazy popularity is largely credited with helping spark the Republican Revolution of 1994. Republicans dominated the 1994 midterms en route to taking back control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Rush helped Republicans with messaging, campaigning, and getting out the vote. He received a pin which said, “Majority Maker” on it. Then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich named Rush an honorary member of the incoming class as a thank you for his role in the GOP’s success.
He Paved the Way for Right-Wing News Outlets
One part of Rush’s legacy is covering stories the mainstream media refused to cover. Similar to Trump, Rush worked hard to expose the media as partisan, only covering stories which helped push the narrative they wanted. Rush was open about his political ideology and honest with his audience about that. He claimed that was a stark difference between him and other so-called objective outlets. Rush’s popularity and stardom offered others the model for success. He showed that people had a craving for openly conservative news coverage. Fox News was founded in 1996 and Newsmax in 1998. Coincidence? Not in the slightest.
Best Selling Author
It turns out his talents extended beyond speaking into a microphone as rush was a best-selling author. His Adventures of Rush Revere series was a New York Times #1 best seller. He was the Children’s Choice Author of the Year in 2014 for Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims. He also wrote two New York Times best-selling books called The Way Things Ought To Be and See, I Told You So. Between both books, Rush has sold nearly ten million copies.
Five time winner of the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality
Rush won this award in 1992, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2014. I think it’s safe to say he could have won it a few more times as well.
Hall of Famer
Rush was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998.
Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
The day that Rush announced publicly he had been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, former President Donald Trump gave him the surprise of a lifetime. During the 2020 State of the Union Address, Trump thanked Rush for his years of service to the country by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Rush was moved to tears as the First Lady hung the medal around his neck.
Loved by Millions
No matter how you slice it, Rush was adored by millions of Americans. He gave them a voice every day for thirty years. He fought for them every day for thirty years. He entertained them every day for thirty years. But most of all, he loved them every day for thirty years. And they reciprocated.