Rush, We Hardly Knew Ye

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Rush, We Hardly Knew Ye

Post by steelstringslider » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:05 pm

In 1993, I embarked on an extended tour for my book Sales Magic. The publisher would fly me into a city where I rented a car and drove to radio and TV stations in the area. I did this for several months and logged a lot of miles in rental cars across the country. It’s a successful but very arduous way to sell books. (Is it just me or do all rental cars smell like wet cardboard, old French Fries and Lysol?)

During the hours and hours behind the wheel, one thing kept me entertained as I wandered the back roads of America trying to sell one more book – listening to Rush Limbaugh. Even back then his show was syndicated on enough stations to be listenable almost everywhere I drove.

Rush? Public enemy #1 with so many people these day, that’s who I listened to? Since I’m not a Conservative, a lot of people are surprised to hear that I enjoyed listening to Rush. Many of their reactions are quite vitriolic, complete with some pretty harsh names for the leader of the EIB. But most of these people are the ones who discovered Limbaugh just within the last few years.

Having listened to Rush since the late 80’s on WABC in New York, I have personally witnessed what I consider to be one of the greatest media transformations of all time. It rivals that of Sinatra and Elvis. Like Rush, the music superstars started off as humble performers, hoping to make the big time. According to all reports, they became completely insufferable after they made it. So has Rush. The old quote, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” has never been more applicable.

Rush Limbaugh created a new type of radio. He truly is the Mac Daddy of talk. When I drove around the country in ’93, his show entertained, informed and intrigued me. I’ve always been a moderate, so even though I rarely agreed with his positions, he made his points with humor and grace and started using some great song parodies created by the talented Paul Shanklin. His comedy was edgy, but he never engaged in LCD (lowest common denominator) humor, which includes name calling, belittling and deliberate meanness.

Who is this guy on the radio today? He bears no resemblance to the host who kept me entertained during my book promo travels. He is nasty, belligerent and takes himself way too seriously. It didn’t help that the previous Republican administration kissed his ass to capitalize on his popularity. They wanted his numbers, not his influence. He lost sight of that fact.

Like Sinatra and Elvis, no one in his entourage will risk their cushy positions by telling him anything negative. How different things would have been if one of Elvis’ crew had told him to put down the peanut butter and banana sandwiches and take a walk. I’m sure Rush’s minions kneel and pucker up daily. No one would dare tell him, “You’re a freaking talk radio host, an entertainer. Nothing more!”

Was his three day “slut” and “prostitute” harangue a mistake of no return? Although there’s lots of speculation right now, most falling right along Conservative and Liberal lines, it’s difficult to say. The fact that his syndicator pulled the show’s national advertising for 2 weeks is an interesting development. It could mark the beginning of the end, if the advertiser and audience backlash is much worse than is currently being reported. Or it could be a tactical move to prevent any more advertiser defections. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

What isn’t interesting is Rush’s current show. He remains out of control, believing he is a policy maker. Could he even do a show without mentioning the name Obama every 2 sentences? These days probably not.

Like many listeners, I miss the old Rush, but I fear he is long gone, never again to return. It is a sad time for talk radio. Hopefully, the thousands of Rush clones on-the-air will learn from the fall of their “mentor.” Although having just heard one railing at “The Libbies” and questioning the President’s US citizenship, I doubt it.

Steve Bryant

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Re: Rush, We Hardly Knew Ye

Post by mnfri » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:24 pm

Most people would agree that Rush "isn't what he used to be". Neither is Stern. All the same, they both revolutionized the business so even if their last decade or so hasn't measured up... They've still done more for radio than anyone else.

The future of radio is clearly not in Republican/Democrat gossip. In fact, from what I've noticed of the young people, they aren't much into that whole thing. It's their parents and their grandparents who have been steeped in party politics. The new generation(s) are looking past that familiar paradigm.

But that's not to say that the new successful shows need to be frivolous. Something is not "entertaining" just because it avoids being "serious". The PROBLEM with Party Politics Radio is that IT is frivolous. People are yearning for something real and true and bold. That's what they want and that's what talk radio needs to deliver. Yes, mixing in humor and satire but most people want something deeper than just weak observations about odd news stories. What I'm always looking for is radio with EMOTION. You should be able to make me angry, get me fired up, make me laugh, make me cry and stir me to the friggin bone. Is that too much to ask? Radio that reflects life. Someone who can speak bravely and articulately about deeply important subjects but then an hour later talk about something totally out of left field. I'm sick of people wasting my time as a listener babbling on about nonsense when they clearly lack any real unique PERSPECTIVE. The first thing a PD should ask a potential job applicant is "Do you have something to SAY?". What that thing is, politics, entertainment, sports, religion, doesn't much matter as long as you believe in it and can relate it.

As a listener, I don't want to hear some Republican hack. But I also don't want to hear some coward who avoids the tough things and whose commentary is about as deep and profound as a puddle.

I travel quite a bit as well. I listen to talk radio everywhere I go. In my comings and goings I've heard a few local gems here and there. I've heard a lot of... well... sh*t. But there are some diamonds out in that rough. Hopefully someone picks them up before they are totally destroyed by this business. I heard a real young guy (I only know he's young because a caller called in and mentioned it) last week on a station back east who really kind of blew me away. I've never quite heard anything like what he did. At one point when discussing a potential asteroid strike he launched into a 10 minute soliloquy about how beautiful it would be to be killed by an asteroid. It sounds bizarre, and it was, but it was also some how funny and moving. I thought "this kid has IT". It's rare you hear someone nowadays who has it. But they are out there.

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Re: Rush, We Hardly Knew Ye

Post by spokesgoddess » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:47 am

@ MNFRI...That's what I get out of NPR. It may be "Libbie Radio", but at least I feel like I'm getting more than just snippets and headlines. Plus, there's no yelling (unless you listen to "Car Talk"). It seem intelligent, emotional, thought provoking and I can only hope that this type of journalism continues. It would be nice to see more of it on both sides of the fence.

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Re: Rush, We Hardly Knew Ye

Post by thecheese » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:35 am

As I young man I too listened to Rush back in the early 90's, listening to his daily condemnation of whatever it was Bill Clinton happened to do that day punctuated with Mr. James Earl Jones informing me that I was indeed listening to the EIB Radio Network.

Excellence In Broadcasting Radio Network? Talent On Loan from God? The guy was clearly on the fast track to megalomania even then.. with his legions of "ditto heads".

Two Republican terms in the White House must have killed this guy. I'll bet he voted Democrat every election so he could resurrect his Clinton era, "Day XXX of the RAW DEAL.." mantra.

Looks like Rush finally hung himself. It's a shame he didn't do it two decades ago with one of his 'power ties' after his TV show tanked.

Anybody remember that show?

The entire set was built out of copies of his book.

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Re: Rush, We Hardly Knew Ye

Post by luther » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:45 am

Hey, I liked freakin' Rosie O'Donnell in the early years too. But the longer she was around, the more successful she got...the more gross and disgusting she became. Now look at her. Her time is OVER. Maybe the same can be said for Rush. He served his purpose and now it's time to move on to another "flavor of the month." Sorry Rush. I'm still a fan of the show, but I'm getting tired of "listening" to your ego grow on a daily basis.

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