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Limbaugh's Success Came in Spite of 'Big Media'

Debra Saunders on

WASHINGTON -- I met Rush Limbaugh before he became a god.

It was the mid-1980s. Our careers had begun but had not taken off. Rush had a radio talk show on Sacramento station KFBK-AM 1530. I worked in the California legislature.

Later he moved to New York for the syndicated talk show that put him in car radios, as he would say, "across the fruited plain."

More than once, Rush told me that his show would never fall out of favor, as so many other shows did, and that he expected to broadcast until the end. Turns out, he was right.

You can't defy gravity, I responded at the time, TV and radio shows rise and fall. Rush believed that he would be different. And he was.

Rush, 70, never lost his audience.

 

He put a premium on being entertaining and it paid off. Limbaugh ditched the standard talk show formula of hosts talking to a series of tap-dancing guests. Limbaugh made the show about himself, his shtick, his pet issues and conservative ideas.

We remained friends over the years. After his syndication, we'd get together for an adult beverage or a meal if we happened to be in the same town. Later we'd communicate over the phone or by email.

We disagreed on a number of issues and his language choices, but this is not the time to rake up dead leaves.

Now it's hard to imagine politics before Limbaugh.

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