The Radio Industry Remembers Rush Limbaugh


After 32 years on the radio, and a one year battle with stage 4 lung cancer, radio superstar Rush Limbaugh has passed away. The news was delivered by his wife Kathryn Wednesday at the opening of his radio show. Rush was 70 years old.

In addition to being called credited with spreading the Conservatism movement across the country, Rush is known for saving AM Radio and inventing talk radio.

Industry reaction so far….

Rush Limbaugh epitomized excellence in all he did, on and off the air.   It’s been an honor to work with him and the EIB Network team all of these years, and witness the audience relationship he cherished. 
Kraig Kitchin

“Rush Limbaugh was a trailblazer on broadcast radio who brought a vast listenership to radio in general and to the AM band in particular. NAB extends condolences to his family, friends and the millions of listeners who will miss his unique presence on radio.”
CEO Gordon Smith

“No one in the 100 year history of radio had reached the levels of loyal listenership Rush accomplished, and I suspect no one ever will. Rush had an innate ability to read his audience, and perform in a way they embraced, which was the key to his massive success. Whether or not you agree with his content, he made radio history and continued on a ride for decades with audiences unparalleled by anyone. He was a force to be reckoned with, and it was he who saved AM radio at a time when listening was falling off, and he who, with the help of the removal of the Fairness Doctrine, reinvented talk radio, which has followed his lead. He was clearly the most powerful person on the air, and once held the title on the Radio Ink Most powerful people in radio list. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the many friends he had in this industry, which will miss him dearly.
Radio Ink Chairman
Eric Rhoads

America and Radio lost a great man and a good friend today. Rush’s humor, intellect, and passion catapulted him to become an American icon. You had to love him or hate him, he didn’t give you a choice…I loved him. Few people can be credited with literally starting an industry, but Rush was the Elvis of Talk Radio, he invented it. There will be attempts to fill his shoes, but none of us can. RIP my friend, you will be missed.
Dave Ramsey, Talk Host

Radio’s Best Friend Art Vuolo put together a tribute video of Rush. Check it out HERE.

We’re deeply saddened by our dear friend Rush’s passing and share our deepest condolences with his wife Kathryn and the entire family. Over the past year, Rush bravely shared his cancer battle with his listeners, inspiring and encouraging anyone suffering from illness. With ‘talent on loan from God,’ Rush led the talk radio format for more than 30 years – a feat no other could have accomplished – and he set the standard for all those who followed. He was beloved by millions of fans across the country and we share the loss of their fearless leader.”
iHeart COO Rich Bressler

“Rush has had an incredible impact on my life and on the lives of all of our listeners. Over the many years we worked together Rush was a wonderful and inspiring colleague, and he will surely be missed.”
Julie Talbott, President of Premiere Networks.

“Rush Limbaugh was a very generous contributor to the Broadcasters Foundation of America which raises money for broadcasters – past and present – all over the country who have fallen on hard times. When I heard the news a few hours ago of his passing … I re-visited some correspondence with Rush that culminated in spectacular Gifts to our Foundation for half a million dollars. As a result, he became – and remains – our greatest benefactor.”
William O’Shaughnessy

“Rush was a master of the radio medium and uniquely skilled at crafting arguments to advance his ideological interests and business objectives. And, whatever your view on that ideology or those business goals, its inarguable that Rush was a giant in our industry who inspired both fierce loyalty and sharp reaction. I also know he generously supported broadcasters in need through his charitable efforts and that he never forgot his radio colleagues who helped him build his legendary career.”
Steve Jones
Skyview Networks

“I’d worked with Rush in Kansas City in the early 80’s…and knew how talented he was, so we added him on WLS (his first Top 10 Market at that time), figuring we’d get big ratings because Chicago Democrats would tune-in in big numbers just because they’d be angered by his conservative views. Instead, he just sat there for almost two years like the movie Flatliners. But once he kicked in, Rush rocketed WLS to #1 in his daypart among talk stations and never looked back. His death is a deep, personal loss and a blow to the talkradio industry…which literally would not exist today if Rush Hudson Limbaugh hadn’t turned the moribund AM band around and electrified American conservatives from coast-to-coast.
Tom Tradup
V.P./News & Talk Programming
SALEM Radio Network

“I worked with Rush Limbaugh years ago when I programmed WABC radio. Rush was a unique individual. Perhaps his powerful talent as a communicator really was “on loan from God…?” I knew him and worked with him at a time way before the polarization and just plain snarky meanness. Rush was first and foremost, an entertainer. The Rush I worked with was a gentleman, brilliant storyteller and kind and generous man. I will try to remember him that way.”
Valerie Geller

“Rush was a once in a generation kind of talent. He was fired 7 times as rock jock on AM rock stations that just wanted him to play the hits and stop talking. We know that was impossible. When somebody wise discovered him (Ed McClaughlin) and put him on a talk station, the magic began.When they removed the fairness doctrine, he electrified the nation with his wit,  wisdom, entertainment sense, and knowledge. You simply could not turn him off. Nobody will replace him, but he leaves a lasting legacy called Talkradio that will stand the test of time, even long after his passing. RIP Rush.”
Phil Boyce
Senior VP/Spoken Word Format
Salem Media Group and Salem Radio Network

“A proud son of Missouri, Rush Limbaugh was a voice for the voiceless. He changed talk radio, but more importantly, Rush changed the conversation to speak up for the forgotten, and challenge the establishment. He lived the First Amendment and told hard truths that made the elite uncomfortable, but made sure working men and women had a seat at the table. Erin and I are praying for the Limbaugh family.”
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri



  2. The quintessential American success story—without equal in our business—Rush persevered through a string of failures and disappointments before he landed behind “the golden EIB microphone,” where he provided his unique blend of insights, entertainment, and inspiration to the largest radio audience ever commanded by a radio host…for 32 years! He was a fixture on our station from January 1989 to the present day and will be missed by his legions of fans.

    • We’re you entertained when he called Chelsea Clinton the white house dog? How about when called Sandra Fluke a slut? How about when he told a African American woman to take the bone out of her nose and call back or calling Obama a Halfrican.

  3. If a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh was necessary to “save AM radio”, it was and is time to turn the transmitter off, pull the plug on the station(s), and send the license(s) back to the FCC. His place rests with the snake oil peddlers, questionable dealers in real estate, and get rich quick artists who pollute the AM band, especially on weekends.

    Instead of fawning over such “talent”, let’s not forget an excellent spoken word personality and writer, the late Jean Shepherd (no, not the country singer), who had a large following on WOR in New York. His program attracted huge numbers of young listeners to what was otherwise “grandma’s radio station” back in the 1970s. Shep was America’s storyteller. His show was totally apolitical and painted a portrait of the America of the 1930s from the (possibly fictional) Chicago suburb of Hohman, Indiana. The movie “A Christmas Story” is taken directly from one of his books and he was the narrator on that movie.

    • Shep was indeed a fabulous story teller harkening back to the days of “radio of the mind.” We college radio kids idolized him and he personally encouraged us to hang in there and pursue our dreams. BTW, “A Christmas Story” was adapted to a stage play I had the chance to help produce and light for community theater.

  4. We should keep in mind that there were other very talented talk show hosts that preceded Rush Limbaugh by one or more decades! They were mostly not nationally syndicated. In NYC market we had a plethora AM and then FM talk shows with talented entertaining hosts, Barry Gray, Barry Farber, Lou Grant to name a few on the right and the three Pacifica hosts Steve Post, Bob Fass and Larry Josephson to name three outstanding talents on the left.

    As a college kids we’d stay up late studying and writing term papers while listening to these talented talkers to help us stay awake. When Barry Farber decided to run for political office, WOR decided he could not host his show due to the equal time issue. So, a bunch of us college broadcasters were given the opportunity to sub for him on his weekend overnight show. Quite a privilege and adventure to be at 1440 Broadway on WOR through the night. Barry and his staff were extremely nice and accommodating, helping us produce the show, line up guests and host his show typically as a trio. It took three of us to do what he did alone, not run out of words to say!

    Through the years Rush became more and more ultra conservative and I stopped listening to him. The name calling, the echoing of the latest conspiracy poppycock and the injection of more and more unsupported “information” damaged his credibility for those who bothered to be well informed.

  5. He was the Hitler of radio announcers. At first, he just wanted a lot of attention. Then people began to believe his shtick. Then he began to believe his shtick.

    He was just a radio geek gone awry.

    • People let’s keep it respectful here… After all, he is deceased. …
      Anyway, yes for sure Limbaugh was polarizing and absolutely helped create the political divide in this country. What’s morning concerning now though is how “outrageous” the Rush wanna-bees like Carlson, Ingraham, Hannity, Savage, Prager and others will be willing to go now, to become “the next Limbaugh.” Their greed and ambition will have no limits.

  6. My condolences to all of Rush’s family and friends. I thank him for the 25 years I had the pleasure of listening to him – for his knowledge, insight, wit – and most importantly – his common sense. All of which was delivered in an informative and often entertaining/ humorous way. You will be missed.

  7. A Tribute to the Man Who Saved AM Radio – Rush Limbaugh January 12, 1951 – February 17, 2021

    Please Note: This is not a discussion about politics so please no posts about that.

    This is about how one uniquely talented talk host resurrected AM radio and helped keep it alive for over three decades. I know because, I was there.

    By 1988 when Rush Limbaugh launched his network radio show from New York, I had been programming talk radio for over 10 years. On AM radio, our teams of local hosts and news departments from KABC Los Angeles, WXYZ Detroit and KTRH Houston, had successfully set ratings records which to this day have never been broken. Much of our success was due to the fact our stations were part of major broadcasting companies like the Rusk Corporation and ABC which (back then) gave us the resources to hire the best talent and news staff available.

    However, at the same time, across the U.S. hundreds of AM stations were struggling to stay alive. An entire generation of baby boomers was leaving AM music stations for much better sounding FM radio.

    Then in July 1988, along came Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of one’s politics, when a station would put Rush on the air, the audience on both sides of the aisle would tune in out of curiosity to see what in the world this Limbaugh guy was all about. There’s nothing stronger than “word of mouth” advertising. The “Rush to Excellent Tour” had begun.

    Some stations would test Rush by airing him only on the weekends. The positive feedback they got from listeners was that they found him very informative and entertaining. Soon more and more AM stations began to carry him live in middays.

    It was not long before the Rush Limbaugh Show became a huge audience magnet. Often his three hours would attract the station’s largest number of listeners. And program directors would air promos for their local hosts inside the Rush show, thereby recycling listeners to other dayparts. Growing ratings meant growing revenue. By the early 90’s, AM radio was back!

    This meant the jobs of many General Managers were saved. And new opportunities abounded for former rock jocks, TV personalities, politicians and journalists who could make the transition to hosting a talk show.

    I retired from programing and consulting talk radio stations in 2008. Through all those years, I never met a talk host who could perform like Rush. No guests. No reliance on phone calls to keep the show moving. No teleprompter. Broadcasting on over 600 radio stations, Rush was the nation’s number one Talk Radio host who could keep the audience listening for hours each week with only his monologue and a few calls sprinkled in from listeners.

    And so this is one inside story of how Rush Limbaugh “with talent on loan from God” revived AM radio, entertained millions of listeners and saved and created thousands of radio jobs through the years.

    This photo is the last time I was with Rush. I was Operations Manager of WLS. It was October 2004 at the Chicago Theatre which was across the street from our studios. We were broadcasting an All-Star lineup of WLS Talk Hosts at an event for charity. It was standing room only. It was so generous of Rush to take the time out of his busy schedule to join us that Saturday in the Windy City. And his fans of course loved seeing Rush in person perform his stand-up monologue.

    So now a wonderful and exciting chapter of Radio History is closed.
    Thank you Rush. You are missed, but you will never be forgotten.

    • You say this is “not a discussion about politics” ? Why? Many radio people loved Rush because he made them a lot of money. But certainly Rush regularly attacked “the left”… he referred to President Obama as “the Obama regime” and Rush loudly led the charge challenging Obama’s U.S. citizenship. And those accusations proved to be false.
      The reality is that if you are on the right or far right, or if you’re a radio person who made money off Rush’s program, you loved Rush. But the reality also is, Rush’s intolerance of those on the left and his constant “not-necessarily-fact-based” rhetoric against Democrats and liberals, certainly contributed to the great divide that now exists in this country.

      • and denying man-made climate change, the dangers of second hand smoke. The list of lies, distortions and smears of well-meaning people ( those dreaded liberals ) is endless .

      • He made a bunch of people who were absolutely *desperate* for cash a bunch of money. He was also arguably the most irresponsible (to put it kindly) broadcaster in American history.

  8. My deepest condolences to Rush’s family. I’ve been a listener for over 25 years. Rush walked with me, mowed with me and was a regular “visitor” at our home. Today, I’ve lost a friend, and the world has lost an incredible man whose shoes will never be able to be filled again. Rush Limbaugh, truly a passionate and most knowledgeable talent on loan from God. While Rush has been called home, I thank him for sharing all he had to offer; and I thank God for the gift of Rush. RIP, my friend

  9. I am so sad to hear this news. I was late in joining the Rush Train, but I quickly learned to beat the drum for his conservative ideology. We will not see anyone like Mr. Limbaugh in my lifetime. Thank you, good sir. God has a special place in heaven for you.

  10. Prayers and condolences for Kathryn Limbaugh and the entire Excellence in Broadcasting company family.

    America was blessed with 30 years of Rush’s obvious and deep love for this country. He is irreplaceable…


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