Radio is a powerful medium, more personal somehow than TV, and few broadcasters exploited its power to greater effect than Rush Limbaugh.
The former DJ kicked around various gigs until finding the right outlet for his talent (“on loan from God,” of course) in political talk radio.
Limbaugh created a new industry, revitalized AM radio, and made friends with millions of people who never met him but were drawn to his voice and irresistible persona. His lashing critiques of the Left, comic riffs, and combative ebullience spawned many imitators, but none of them came close to being his equal.
To think that he had such an impact, sitting alone at a microphone, with few guests and not many callers, for three hours a day, is astonishing.
He had an outsize role in conservative politics for 30 years and could instantly elevate a cause or argument. He was especially influential when Republicans were out of power, at the beginning of the Clinton years (the new Republican House majority made him an honorary freshman in 1994) and in the Obama years.
His three-hour program, listened to by 20 million people at its height, represented a crack in the dominance of the liberal mass media and foreshadowed the rise of a broader alternative conservative media.
He loved Bill Buckley — the feeling was mutual — and was friends with many people at this institution. A humble man in person, who performed countless acts of personal generosity that no one will ever hear about, he fought his lung cancer at the end with the heart of a lion. R.I.P.