Thursday, August 14, 2008
On issues of politics and culture, there is little doubt that the leading voice of the revolutionary revival in talk radio during the past decade and a half has been one Rush Limbaugh. Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine has been quoted: "Before Rush Limbaugh, there was nothing like talk radio. He's been to talk what Elvis was to rock-n-roll. He saved the AM dial..." Former White House aid Karl Rove has said: "He's a leader. If Rush engages on an issue, it give others courage to engage." This year, Rush is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his highly successful "Rush Limbaugh Show", a syndicated radio program which can be found in the Philly area airwaves at The Big Talker, 1210am, every weekday from noon to 3pm. Limbaugh blends an incredible mind with a sharp wit and a sometimes biting, often humorous tongue to spread the conservative gospel to the converted masses (as well as any of the opposition who want to read the true pulse on the other side.) Rush takes on all of the important issues both political and cultural, brings their key points into sharp clarity, and tells you why you should not only agree with him, but should actively engage yourself in supporting these positions. The force of his will as spread through the popularity of his show was no doubt a key ingredient in Republicans taking over the US Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years, helping usher in the Newt Gingrich-led 'Republican Revolution', the backbone of which was the 'Contract With America'. Rush also was a huge Bush supporter in 2000, and certainly played a key role in galvanizing the conservative base to get out and vote, helping President Bush to the most narrow win in the history of the American political process involving the Presidency. During breaks, Rush's plugs for the show include his voice announcing that you are listening to the Rush Limbaugh Show, and stating that what you are hearing is "Talent on loan from God!" When he says that, he is not being at all disrespectful, though certainly be a bit boastful (though honest). He is announcing that he has talent, a point supported by his immense popularity and the respect afforded him by leading politicians, pundits, journalists, and other broadcasters. And he is letting us know that this talent was loaned out to him by his God, a fact that we all should embrace about ourselves and our own abilities on a more regular basis. Rush began his career as a Top 40 radio DJ in Pittsburgh during the 1970's, a time when the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers were a Super Bowl-winning powerhouse. Limbaugh became a big Steelers fan then, and remains so to this day. In 1979, Rush set aside the music to become the director of promotions for the Kansas City Royals baseball team during a period when the Royals were one of baseball's top teams (Royals' Hall of Famer George Brett remains one of his best friends.) After five years in KC, Rush moved on to Sacramento, taking over a talk radio job there, and in 1987 the alleged 'Fairness Doctrine' was removed from the radio industry by the FCC. This idiotic piece of junk basically shackled talk radio, saying that in order to express any political views a station had to give equal time to opposing views. With the television industry becoming dominated by politically liberal viewpoints and commentary, the radio restriction was certainly anything but 'fair', and its removal changed the talk radio landscape forever. The Wall Street Journal described it in outstanding terms when they said that "Ronald Reagan tore down the wall (the Fairness Doctrine) and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination." On August 1st, 1988, Rush moved across country to New York, and began his now-famous self-named radio program on the ABC network. His radio home there at WABC-AM (770 on the NY dials) remains his flagship station two decades later. His listeners have become affectionately known as 'dittoheads', signifying that they agree with Rush on the issues. His style has been said to bounce between "earnest lecturer and political vaudevillian". In his personal life, Rush has often fallen short of being the conservative values man that he talks up on-air. He has been married and divorced three times, has no children, and had to win a very public battle with an addiction to pain killers. He has also had professional controversies, including criticisms received for mocking the effects of Parkinson's disease on actor Michael J. Fox, and on support for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb as being largely media-created because there was a desire there to see a black quarterback succeed at a high level. But despite personal and professional setbacks and challenges, Limbaugh has never shied away from voicing his valid cultural and political opinion in an honest, straight-forward manner, and he has been a true leader in the conservative movement in the United States. He openly and regularly advocates for conservatism: "We conservatives are unapologetic about our ideals. We believe in individual liberty, limited government, capitalism, the rule of law, faith, a color-blind society and national security. We support school choice, enterprise zones, tax cuts, welfare reform, faith-based initiatives, political speech, homeowner rights and the War on Terrorism." No one articulates the conservative positions more succinctly. Current Republican party candidate for President, John McCain, has been quoted: "I respect Rush Limbaugh." A plain and simple statement that I can easily say that I would echo. Rush Limbaugh most certainly has what he says that he has: talent on loan from God. Give his radio program a listen-to for a week. If you have that courage, I can almost guarantee that you will be hooked, and perhaps, if need be, politically and culturally converted.