Broadcasting visionary Edward McLaughlin passed away Thursday night, January 18, at a hospice in Palm Beach, FL. He was 91. McLaughlin — who was to be honored with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Broadcasters Foundation of America’s Golden Mike Award dinner, March 5, in New York City — was the man who launched Rush Limbaugh into syndication. In 2010, McLaughlin was the recipient of Radio Ink’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Radio Ink Chairman Eric Rhoads said, “We owe a great debt to Ed McLaughlin. His vision reinvented talk radio and saved AM radio, which was almost dead at the time. He fought a huge battle against the odds to get the Rush Limbaugh show launched amid great controversy and he prevailed. And because of his work, talk radio became what it is today.”
Back in 2008, when Rush celebrated his 20th anniversary, he said, “None of this could have happened without the help and the courage and the risk-taking of a whole lot of people, particularly Ed McLaughlin.”
Broadcasters Foundation of America Chairman Dan Mason said, “The Board of Directors and I are saddened at this tremendous loss to our industry and grateful for Ed’s years of service to the Broadcasters Foundation. Ed believed in giving back to the profession that he loved and helping those among us who need it the most.”
Walter Sabo: “Ed McLaughlin…as the President of the ABC Radio networks, during his 14 years he grew it from loss to large profits by investing in talent and marketing. He believed in the show in show business and invested money and passion in the best of air talent. He did not “save” his way to success. As a manager he generously expected those of us who worked for him to think and act bigger. All of his actions were wrapped in kindness and integrity. A great man.”
A radio entrepreneur and pioneer largely responsible for the renaissance of Talk radio, McLaughlin was formerly ABC Radio Network president. He also founded EFM Media Management in 1987 and syndicated The Dr. Dean Edell Show. In addition, he’d served as chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation of America for seven years, and general manager of KGO, San Francisco, a heritage radio station on the West Coast. Over the course of his career, McLaughlin served in a variety of other roles and won many awards.
Broker Richard Foreman, who was a network colleague, said, “Ed really resurrected network radio in the early 80s. And he moved talk radio to the forefront of an industry populated by stations that resembled jukeboxes with their cacophony of various music formats. He saw that stations could make people think … not just entertain them.”
The Broadcasters Foundation of America has established the Edward F. McLaughlin Memorial Fund to honor him.
McLaughlin is survived by his wife Pat and children Kim, Edward, and Marika.
There will be a private service next week in Greenwich, CT, and a memorial service on a date yet to be announced in June.