I wouldn’t have a job without Rush Limbaugh.
That’s not entirely true. I might have a job, but I wouldn’t have a career in radio or in daily sports radio without the impact Limbaugh made on the industry in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Earlier today the Radio Hall Of Famer Limbaugh announced to his audience that he was suffering from advanced stages of lung cancer. He indicated he would miss time on his show for treatment. He was positive. He was Rush.
I realize most folks will read this post through the lenses of politics. It’s almost impossible for folks to separate Rush from Conservative politics and I get that. I’ll ask you though, for a few minutes tonight to try and do that. If you can.
Limbaugh saved AM radio.
When his show came on the air and went national in 1988 the frequency was languishing in a morass or government regulation and listener/programmer neglect. They said that the audiences had all gone to FM, that no one cared about AM, and that it was habited by bad local programs and crappy overnight programs. And then along can Rush. . .
His show revitalized an entire industry.
It saved local radio, even in a place like Lubbock, Texas.
At the time he hit the national air-waves, Rush was on 98 Kool. That was owned by Lew Dee and Dianna at the time. It helped them keep the station alive, employ folks and continue a great morning show tradition. If he did that, it would be good enough for me. . .
But it led to more. It led to 98 Kool being purchased and rolled into a larger radio group. We can save the debate for later about corporate radio. What it did though in the ’90s was allow 98 Kool and Lew to have a platform and for Talk Radio to flourish, both on AM and FM at the time.
This repeated around the country.
Limbaugh’s program saved Mom and Pop stations around the country. It got advertisers on a local level back involved in radio. It generated results for businesses both local and national. It drove the economy. It created more jobs than damn near any elected official I’ve seen. . .
Small stations, AM stations, were now able to operate with cash. Advertisers returned to the medium. Stations grew. Programming grew. Radio grew.
As that happened, another radio phenomenon was taking place. In the early 90s, many radio groups now had the cash thanks to Limbaugh to explore other formats. One of those was something Lubbock pioneered for small markets back in 1996.
Without the revenue coming in from Rush Limbaugh and his advertisers many stations around the country, many radio groups, would have never invested in an all-sports format. It was too far out there and with no proven revenue at the time.
But Limbaugh’s show gave them latitude to try.
So they did.
And around the country, just like in Lubbock with SportsRadio 1340 KKAM, the fledgling format was given a chance to make it. And it did. Thanks to the revenue again coming into radio groups from one man.
I was lucky enough to come along in radio during the late 80s and was able to benefit from this change in the industry. I saw first hand the effect his show had on stations in Lubbock and nationally. And I benefited tremendously personally. Without Limbaugh, there would have been no home for The Williams & Hyatt Show in 1994. It just wouldn’t have happened. ( of course there are some who think this wouldn’t have been so bad 🙂 )
So, as the sun sets this Monday evening, I hope you’ll say a prayer for Rush Limbaugh as he battles this wicked cancer. I don’t care what your politics are and what you think of Limbaugh. It’s rare that a man can have the impact that he has had on an industry, on culture and on politics, all while being himself, while giving more of himself more than most will ever know to great causes and while never asking for anything more than folks to listen for themselves, to not let someone else tell them what they thought he said and to make up their own minds about his program.
The folks who did that, who really listened, they might still disagree, but if they were honest they’d admit Rush comes from a place of honesty and from a place that only wants the best for America. Not a place of hate, not a place of disdain for people, but a wellspring of hope for the best of what we can be as a people and a country. . .
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for letting me tell you why I wouldn’t have a job without Rush.
Thanks for saying a small, or large, prayer for a man tonight.