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
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.