Rush Limbaugh changed my life.
Let me explain because it’s not what you think.
To me, Rush was, first and foremost, a broadcaster, an entertainer and a master communicator. He operated at the highest level of a radio talent by forming personal relationships with millions of people he never met.
He revived and then perpetuated the vibrancy of AM radio for a generation. Talk radio emerged as a formidable and profitable format.
Rush was a gifted announcer with excellent diction and an extensive vocabulary. It is incredibly difficult to deliver a 20-minute monologue that is both informative and entertaining, and Rush did it day after day.
As a result of Rush’s success, I was pushed, rather reluctantly, into hosting my own show on West Virginia Radio Corporation stations and the MetroNews Radio Network. I started out trying to be like Rush because he had set the standard.
So, I copied him in style and in substance. That was a mistake for two reasons.
First, Rush was one of the premiere broadcasters in the history of radio; he cannot be imitated. That is like playing football and trying to be the next Tom Brady.
Second, and it took awhile for me to learn this, you must be true to yourself. You cannot pretend to be somebody else for very long. Listeners will pick up on your insincerity and you will be exposed as a fraud.
So, with the help and support of my company, I set out to carve my own path.
That road has been rocky. Hosting a radio talk show is more difficult than it sounds. No, it is not as hard as working in a coal mine or flying a jet airliner or teaching third graders, but it has its challenges.
It is live and you cannot play a record if you don’t have anything to say. Callers, texters and emailers will throw you curve balls. Frequently, a smart caller will get the best of you.
Each show begins with a feeling of panic and ends with a sense of relief. If Rush ever felt that way, he never let on. He was so good that everything seemed natural, as though he said exactly what he wanted to say the way he wanted to say it.
“Broadcast excellence,” as Rush would put it.
I am purposely not wading into his content. Rush was polarizing, so the comments that will be posted below will reflect the kind of emotional response that he triggered.
But from the standpoint of Rush Limbaugh as a professional radio broadcaster, he created an opportunity for me to follow a career path that I never expected.
And for that I am grateful.