2 weeks ago

Alabama radio talkers weigh in on Rush Limbaugh’s passing and lasting legacy

Conservative talker and radio pioneer Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday after losing his battle with Stage IV lung cancer at age 70, according to a statement from his wife Kathryn read on Limbaugh’s Wednesday broadcast.

Over the past three decades, Limbaugh’s program became the most listened-to radio show in the country. It aired on over 600 stations and had a weekly listenership of up to 27 million. His program aired on at least 10 stations throughout the state of Alabama, including all five of the state’s media markets.

While Limbaugh had a weighty national political focus, one of his lasting legacies is that he rejuvenated terrestrial spoken word radio and created a forum to discuss state and local issues. From one end of the state to the other, Alabama radio talk hosts acknowledge Limbaugh made their programming possible.

Yellowhammer News reached out to talk show hosts around the state and asked them to weigh in on Limbaugh’s passing and what they saw as his lasting legacy.


Matt Murphy, co-host “Matt & Val,” 6 a.m.-10 a.m. on Talk 99.5, Birmingham

Rush Limbaugh was the undisputed gold standard in our industry. Every talk show host in America owes their livelihood to him in some form or fashion. It was not that his candle burned so bright, but that it burned so long. His nationally syndicated radio show began when I was 15 for goodness sake…and I’ve been on air for 20 years.  It is not hyperbole to attribute that lasting power and indelible mark on our nation’s history to one unyielding constant. His undying, unwavering and unapologetic love of the United States of America and his belief in the intelligence and goodness of the American people.

This will be his legacy.

He single-handed my saved AM radio. And maybe FM too.

Rush Limbaugh, while different in many ways, was Donald Trump before Donald Trump.

Dale Jackson, host “The Dale Jackson Show,” 7 a.m.-11 a.m. on NewsTalk 92.5FM/770AM, Huntsville

There’s not a talk show host alive that doesn’t owe some part of their career to Rush. He informed, entertained and infuriated millions.

No Limbaugh means, no massive conservative media, no Fox News, no Tea Party and no Trump.

Joey Clark, co-host “News & Views,” 9 a.m.-noon on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV, Montgomery

Rush Limbaugh went national the year of my birth, 1988. I have never known American politics without Rush until today. He was a pioneer on the radio airwaves by being that traditional character type America produces so well, the heretic.

But Rush Limbaugh’s “heresies” were never a threat to America or her democracy—see Time Magazine’s Jan 23, 1995 cover—only a threat to an elite who knew his words would resonate, not as heresy, but as common sense with comic relief to the common man. To quote another American heretic, “One horse-laugh is worth ten-thousand syllogism.”

If Rush Limbaugh’s horse laugh did not prove this, no one’s ever will.

JT Nysewander, host “Alabama’s Morning News with JT,” 6 a.m.-9 a.m. on News Radio 105.5 WERC, Birmingham

I first knew of Rush Limbaugh when I was in High School. He was a Top-40 disc on KQV in Pittsburgh in the 70s and went by the name of Jeff Christie!

Listening to him was part of the reason I got into radio. I also started my radio career as a Top-40 DJ and later moved into talk-radio! He paved the way for so many, including me. A pioneer that embodied speaking his mind with passion, truth and entertainment!

I only hope I can be half the communicator he was!

Sean Sullivan, host “Midday Mobile,” noon to 2 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5 in Mobile

Rush Limbaugh was a hell of a disc jockey. I started listening to Rush in the late eighties and was hooked by his style as much or more than his politics. Lots will be written and said about Rush’s influence on the Republican party and the conservative message but many will miss that the packaging was why his political message carried.

When Limbaugh started his syndicated show in 1988 there were many entertaining radio hosts working and there were many conservative thinkers but there was only one that combined the two. Here was a guy who was making jokes like a top 40 morning show host while delivering the conservative gospel. The fact that Republican party is still viable isn’t because of the stuffed shirts that hold the scrolls of conservatism but because of a midwest kid who wanted to entertain as much as pontificate.

When I say Rush will be missed I think I’ll get plenty of mega dittos.

Leland Whaley, host “Leland Live,” 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Talk 99.5, Birmingham

Rush was a Lion that roared through our profession for three decades. Every talk show host in America has a job because he made it possible.

He never broke his bond with his listeners. He put them ahead of everything else and that built a trust that endured through his last show.

He overcame attacks from the left on his business, mockery of his size, losing his hearing and a brutal, against all odds, battle with cancer only to continue to show up for his listeners in the times we needed him most. I don’t know how he maintained focus and stamina. But when his loyal listeners were the most bewildered by the events of the last election, he still made it in to work. We loved him for that.

The first time I heard him he pissed me off. 30 years later, the last time I heard him I was listening to a friend I never met who I knew was saying goodbye.

Michael Hart, host “The Michael Hart Show,” 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on 92.5 FM and 1260AM WYDE, Birmingham

“Rush died”

That’s all the text from a friend said. It’s how I learned of the passing not only of a talk radio icon but an iconic American. The name Rush embodied talk radio, the text need say nothing more, the message left nothing to doubt. “Rush” embodied Talk Radio.

And while Rush set the bar of excellence remarkably high for current talk radio hosts and those yet to come, he set the bar for kindness respect, gratitude, and love of country at a height we all can reach. Yes, Rush Limbaugh embodied Conservative Talk Radio. But he also embodied the most praiseworthy traits of all Americans regardless of our political views.

Toni Lowery, co-host “The WBHP Morning Show,” 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. on The Big Talker WBHP, Huntsville

Nobody thought talk radio would ever work and now talk radio is the largest format in all of radio because of Rush Limbaugh… 4000 stations across the country. Rush loved this country. He loved the American people. Millions of Americans listened to him every day because they trusted him. He spoke for them, stood up for them. Rush was their voice.

And he gave back, millions to charity, millions to veterans groups and other charities, and gave quietly to individuals who needed help. He talked about being blessed. We all are. None of us who love what we do on talk radio would be here without Rush.

Uncle Henry, host “The Uncle Henry Show,” 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on WNTM 710 NewsRadio, Mobile

Back when Rush Limbaugh launched his national radio show, I was working at WKRG-AM 710 in Mobile, the station that later became WNTM.

In the ancient times, there was no computer automation in radio, so a live human being had to be in the studio to air the syndicated programs. In Mobile at WKRG AM, I was the human being who had to run the control board for the new Rush Limbaugh Show. I had to listen to his entire show every day for the first two weeks it was in national syndication.

I remember being completely blown away by what I was hearing. He used sharp humor to make his political points, and the entertainment value of his show was dynamic. It was different from any other show we had on the air. The first controversy in his first two weeks of national broadcasting was when he made jokes about Amy Carter, daughter of Jimmy Carter. I vividly remember being shocked when I heard it, and I also remember many upset elderly women calling the station to complain.

His show was an immediate success In Mobile, and he even visited Mobile in the early years of his show to speak at the Riverview Plaza as part of his “Rush to Excellence Tour.”

He transformed talk radio, paved the way for many other successful national shows, and had a huge influence on local radio shows. I know he influenced me, and his type of show made it easier for me to get my type of show on the air.

Scott Beason, host “The Scott Beason Show,” 9 a.m.-noon on 92.5 FM and 1260AM WYDE, Birmingham

If it wasn’t for Rush Limbaugh I am not sure I would ever have gotten involved in politics or in radio. It was Rush on the radio that reinforced my conservative beliefs and my love for the United States.

He made it so clear that our principles and ideals work and that liberalism fails. I decided that if there needed to be real conservatives in office, I would do my best to be one. I think that same story has occurred many more times across the country. The left is correct about Rush Limbaugh in one way. He was the encouragement and the fuel for the conservative movement. Without Rush, America would be further down the path of socialism and misery.

Rush is the king of talk radio. His was the first talk radio show I ever listened to, and I listened almost every day. He was the trunk of the conservative tree and all the other shows were just branches. I was always proud when he was saying the same things I had said earlier in the day. That was when I knew I was right about an issue. How could Rush and I both be wrong? His death is like losing a friend and a role model. He has been a part of people’s lives for so long. He will be sorely missed.

God bless Rush Limbaugh.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

1 hour ago

Schoolyard Roots growing stronger, smarter kids in Alabama

When kids participate in the life of a garden, they see the complete cycle of growing food, cooking and preparing it to eat. School gardens are exciting places for kids to learn basic academic subjects, too.

The Tuscaloosa community came together more than 10 years ago to develop a garden-based learning program called the Druid City Garden project, now called Schoolyard Roots.

Schoolyard Roots employs a full-time teaching staff that provides garden lessons for students, as well as professional development training for teachers. The school gardens provide an outdoor experience rare to many students. They are more likely to make healthy choices and try new foods. Students gain a sense of responsibility, to collaborate and work together as a team.

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“When we see a child’s health and education improve, we know that we’re not only investing in that child’s life today – we’re helping them build a better future,” said Nicole Gelb Dugat, interim executive director. “Schoolyard Roots builds community through food. By increasing access to fresh, locally grown produce, we empower our community to make healthy and sustainable food choices.”

In March 2020, the impact of COVID-19 significantly affected the teaching community. Almost immediately, the Schoolyard Roots team began distributing produce from its gardens directly to local families. By the end of last year, the program had distributed more than 750 pounds of fresh garden vegetables to the community.

“We stewarded our gardens as fresh-air sanctuaries, where children and adults could relax, refocus and reconnect,” said Dugat. “Through it all, we shared vegetables and flowers. We cultivated moments of peace and learned together. We could not have done any of it without our incredible community of supporters.”

They found hope and inspiration in the small miracle of seeds planted by the students. Gardens bring joy, peace and courage in times of struggle. And gardens remind us to have hope for new growth and what is to come.

Schoolyard Roots partners with Tuscaloosa-area elementary schools to bring learning to life through teaching gardens. The nonprofit works in 11 elementary schools across Tuscaloosa County.

Its mission is to build healthy communities through food with the Gardens 2 Schools program.

Gardens support and encourage healthful eating as a key component of children’s physical wellbeing, which can aid their academic and social success, too. The garden is woven through many aspects of a school’s curriculum and adapted for different grade levels.

“The Gardens 2 Schools program cultivates curiosity,” Dugat said. “The program teaches the students how to work together (and) learn self-reliability and compassion.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

2 hours ago

Has Washington’s stimulus measures saved our economy?

Congress is expected to soon pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, the fourth major response to the pandemic. Did these measures save our economy from a protracted recession?

Our initial response might be yes because of last spring’s economic free-fall. The stock market declined 20%. Unemployment jumped from 3.5% in February to 14.8% in April, the highest level since the Great Depression. GDP fell 10% in the second quarter.

The economy stopped collapsing and began regaining ground. The stock market hit new record highs. Unemployment fell to 6.3% in January and inflation-adjusted GDP in the fourth quarter of 2020 was within 2% of the 2019 level. Post hoc ergo prompter hoc, however, is a logical fallacy.

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Macroeconomists disagree over whether government spending can lift an economy out of recession. Keynesians, following John Maynard Keynes’ analysis of the Great Depression, see a role for government stabilization. Austrians in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek argue that government often causes recessions. New classical analysis has blown many holes in Keynesian theories.

Regardless of the efficacy of a fiscal stimulus, our economy may not have faced a recession in 2020. The COVID-19 slump arguably resembled an off-season shutdown in a resort community more than a recession. Except that the pandemic shutdown was unexpected while seasonal closures are planned.

The economy could have been expected to bounce back on its own if the business closure and stay-at-home orders did not last too long. And this seemingly happened during the summer and fall.

How can we assess the stimulus spending? The Payroll Protection Plan and augmented unemployment likely kept some persons employed and softened the financial blow for idled workers. These programs could also be viewed as compensation owed by the government for business closure orders, not a stimulus. Personal saving has risen sharply, so many households’ stimulus checks produced little spending.

Unemployment programs have been beset by fraud. The Foundation for Government Accountability estimates that fraudulent schemes siphoned off $36 billion, more than the $26 billion in unemployment compensation paid out in all of 2019. Do Keynesians think fraud is a fiscal stimulus?

One trillion stimulus dollars were unspent as of January 2021. While some Republicans argued that we should spend this money before approving President Biden’s proposal, the unspent money was in the process of being spent. Still, money not yet spent did not stimulate the economy in 2020.

Proponents of fiscal stimulus warned that the economy would sputter without a fall stimulus. One forecast warned of a five percentage point increase in unemployment and 5% decline in GDP. The House and Senate did not agree on an encore to the CARES Act until December. And yet unemployment fell and GDP grew in the fourth quarter.

Even if some spending helped in 2020, the current stimulus package is almost certainly unnecessary. The Congressional Budget Office was already expecting growth to recover “rapidly,” with GDP surpassing the pre-pandemic level by mid-year and unemployment returning to its prior level by early 2022. For comparison, after the Great Recession unemployment did not reach its 2007 level until 2016.

President Biden’s package includes $500 billion to stabilize state budgets. States operate under balanced budget rules, so revenue declines due to the pandemic would trigger spending cuts potentially slowing the recovery. The $500 billion was based on an 8% decline in state revenues; the Wall Street Journal reports that revenues will be down only 1.6%.

Whatever the verdict on the stimulus spending, it worsened the national debt by about $3 trillion. The long-term debt impact may easily offset any short-term boost to the recovery.

The economic case that government spending can prevent or end a recession is weak. Fortunately, the COVID-19 shutdowns did not trigger a prolonged recession. While we might say, “Better safe than sorry,” the cost of the stimulus will be with us for years to come.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

2 hours ago

Packaging Corp. of America plans $440 million project at Alabama mill

JACKSON, Alabama – Packaging Corp. of America (PCA) plans to launch a three-year, $440 million project to permanently convert a paper machine at its mill in Clarke County to produce linerboard used for corrugated packaging.

Lake Forest, Illinois-based PCA announced that it discontinued the production of uncoated freesheet, used for copy paper and other applications, on its No. 3 paper machine at the Jackson mill in late 2020.

After a temporary switch to produce linerboard, PCA is now making preparations to convert the mill’s paper machine into a 700,000-ton-per-year high-performance, virgin kraft linerboard machine in a phased approach over the next 36 months.

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PCA said key elements in the conversion project include the installation of an OCC plant for recycling old corrugated containers and various pulp mill modifications. In addition, modifications and upgrades will be made to critical sections of the paper machine.

PCA Chairman and CEO Mark Kowlzan said the project will enable the company to meet strong packaging demand and to optimize the Alabama mill’s profitability and viability. The capital cost of the conversion is expected to be approximately $440 million.

“We are appreciative of the continued support from the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Commerce, the City of Jackson and Clarke County to help us continue providing quality jobs and a positive economic impact in the Jackson community,” Kowlzan said.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Governor Kay Ivey said the project represents a positive development for the Jackson mill, a major industrial employer with more than 500 workers.

“Packaging Corp. of America’s reinvestment in its Jackson manufacturing facility will solidify the plant’s future by enhancing its competitiveness,” Governor Ivey said.

“This decision underlines the company’s confidence in its Alabama operation while also preserving jobs and safeguarding local education tax dollars. It’s a win for the company, the community and the state.”

Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said PCA’s project will increase the efficiency of the Clarke County plant while providing a long-term economic boost to Jackson, a city with a population of around 5,300.

“We’re committed to helping existing businesses grow and thrive in Alabama, and the impact of a major investment is always magnified when in happens in rural communities,” Secretary Canfield said.

“With this project, PCA is positioning its Jackson mill for the future, which will significantly benefit the city and the region for years to come.”

‘LONG-STANDING RELATIONSHIP’

Jackson Mayor Paul R. South said the project will allow PCA to continue providing quality jobs while securing a positive economic future for Clarke County.

“The City of Jackson looks forward to working with the corporation as the project moves forward,” South said. “In my opinion, they couldn’t have selected a better community.  Jackson is a safe and peaceful city full of great people, with good schools and recreation and a strong work force, along with extensive natural resources.”

“This is wonderful news for Clarke County and the City of Jackson,” said Stan Hutto, chairman of the Clarke County Commission. “We have a long-standing relationship with this outstanding company, and we are committed to helping them achieve their goals to ensure a bright, successful future.”

PCA is the third largest producer of containerboard products and the third largest producer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America. PCA operates eight mills and 90 corrugated products plants and related facilities.

The Jackson mill’s No. 1 paper machine will continue to produce uncoated freesheet products.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

3 hours ago

Alabama’s Helen Keller was more than a hero for the disabled

She could neither see nor hear. But her vision influenced countless millions.

Helen Keller’s influence reached far beyond her native Alabama. She became a celebrity at an early age and remained so throughout her life.

Born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Keller was 19 months old when an illness left her deaf and blind.

With the help of Anne Sullivan, her teacher for 49 years, she was able to learn how to communicate.

In her prime, she was traveling across the world making appearances and giving inspirational speeches.

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She became known for her tireless activism on behalf of workers’ and women’s rights, her literary work, and her tenure as an unofficial U.S. ambassador to the world.

“Helen Keller lived her life as an example of what people with disabilities could accomplish,” said Keller J. Thompson, her great grand-niece. “She so desired within her innermost being that people with disabilities be given a chance to prove the many things that they could do in this life. By her own experiences, she knew that people with disabilities could have great impacts on the world around them and every day of her life she was eager to be someone that impacted the world in a positive way, leaving it a better place than she found it.”

Keller attended several educational institutions and was accepted at Radcliffe College, where she graduated with honors, becoming the first deaf person to obtain a university degree.

According to an Encyclopedia of Alabama account, in the decades after college, Keller become increasingly involved in politics. She became an advocate of suffrage, unemployment benefits and legalized birth control for women.

She blamed industrialization and poverty for causing disability among a disproportionately large number of working-class people and became increasingly concerned about racial inequalities. She expressed her views through public speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, interviews and appearances at rallies.

Keller entered the 1920s seeking a meaningful public life and financial stability. The newly created American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) supplied both. Working on behalf of blind people with the AFB, Keller became a successful fundraiser and political lobbyist.

From the 1920s through the early 1940s, she worked to raise funds and lobby state and national legislatures. She emphasized educational and employment possibilities for people with disabilities, particularly those who were blind.

A trip to Japan in 1948 was the catalyst for Keller’s transformation from tourist to semi-official ambassador for the United States. Thrilled by her reception in Japan, the State Department worked with the AFB to fund and facilitate her travels and promote her as a representative of Americanism.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson awarded her the Congressional Medal of Freedom. When she died in 1968 at the age of 88, she was one of the most famous people in the world.

Keller’s journey from a deaf, blind girl to graduating from Radcliffe and becoming a prominent writer and political activist provided inspiration to millions of people with disabilities.

Although she left Alabama at the age of 8, she always claimed Ivy Green, her family’s house in Tuscumbia, as home, and she continued to identify herself as a Southerner throughout her life and travels.

Keller said: “Your success and happiness lie in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Throughout March, Alabama NewsCenter is recognizing Alabama women of distinction, past and present, in celebration of Women’s History Month.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Rep. Aderholt warns congressional Democrats moving to allow for taxpayer-funded abortions

FLORENCE — Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has banned the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except in the extreme case of saving the life of a pregnant woman or terminating a pregnancy that resulted from incest or rape.

The Hyde Amendment has stood the test time, most recently during the 2010 Affordable Care Act debate. However, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) warns now that Democrats have the House, Senate and White House, the Hyde Amendment is in their crosshairs.

At an appearance before the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday, Aderholt discussed the possibility of Democrats ending the Hyde Amendment, adding it could come down to one or two Senate Democrats preventing a vote to end the filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate.

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“[O]ne of the things that is most egregious about what’s happening now is abortion — you know, one of those issues that has always been Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on. But one thing Democrats and Republicans could always somewhat agree on was federal funding of abortion off-limits. It’s one thing that if abortion would be allowed, and of course, I’m pro-life. I don’t agree with that. But at least the Democrats would embrace the idea we would not take federal government taxpayer dollars to fund abortion. That is out now. Democrats want to make it so federal funds, your tax dollars, can go for abortion. And that’s a really scary thing.”

“The Hyde Amendment is what we’re talking about. They want to destroy the Hyde Amendment. So, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we keep the Hyde Amendment. It’s hard on Republicans — it’s hard on the House side, the Republicans being in the minority. Then on the Democrat side in the Senate with only 50 votes — then hopefully, we can get Manchin or some of those others to come along with us to try to make the rule out of order. We’re five seats basically from taking the majority in the House of Representatives.”

Aderholt was optimistic about Republicans’ chances in 2022 to regain control of the House but added his party had to be vigilant in the meantime.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.