He’s the most listened-to talk-radio host in the U.S., the man “behind the golden EIB microphone” credited with single-handedly saving AM radio and paving the way for a powerful, alternative voice to the liberal establishment media.
Three decades ago on this day, Aug. 1, 1988, he began broadcasting “The Rush Limbaugh Show” on flagship WABC in New York City.
On his July 12 show, Limbaugh reflected on the approaching anniversary.
“It’s a treat for me to have the opportunity to be behind this microphone every day,” he told his listeners. “You notice how many callers lately are saying 25-year listener, 28-year listener, 20-year listener.”
RELATED ANNIVERSARY STORY: Rush Limbaugh: This 1 thing made me a household name
He said that after three decades the audience has only grown, with up to 27 million listeners.
“Demographically, everybody who started with this program in 1988 has aged 30 years along with the program and me, the host, and they’re still there,” he said.
He reiterated what “a delight” it is to do the show.
“I cannot tell you how much I enjoy this and how seriously I take it in terms of meeting and surpassing expectations,” he said.
Limbaugh said he works harder now than ever.
“I’m not asking for any violins or anything, don’t misunderstand. I’m just saying it’s the exact opposite of what I thought would be the case after this many years.”
Limbaugh said his career now is “so unlike what I imagined it would be if I would have lasted 30 years and what the program would be like.”
“But the last thing I thought — this might be the best way to express it — the last thing, 30 years ago when I’m contemplating what happens if I’m still doing this at 65, what happens — and I’m not thinking in terms of retirement or the magical age of 65, after 30 years, the last thing I would have thought was that my attitude would be every day that I have to go in and prove it every day. After 30 years, what is there left to prove?” he said. “It’s just the exact opposite.”
Limbaugh’s radio show began in 1984 at Sacramento, California, radio station KFBK. Three years later, the Reagan administration repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which had required TV and radio stations to provide equal time for opposing political views, opening the door to the Limbaugh-led rise of conservative talk radio.
In 1992, after he had left office, President Reagan wrote to Limbaugh, thanking him “for all you’re doing to promote Republican and conservative principles.
Reagan said Limbaugh had “become the Number One voice for conservatism in our country.”
Limbaugh has won the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year five times, most recently in 2014. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998.
In his daily column, WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah recalled how his friendship with Limbaugh began in Sacramento, when Farah was editor of the Sacramento Union newspaper.
After recognizing how popular Limbaugh had become in the California capital, Farah persuaded him to write a daily column for the paper. Later, Farah became a collaborator on Limbaugh’s second book, “See, I Told You So,” which sold 4 million copies the month it was released in 1993 and topped the New York Times bestsellers list through most of 1994.
“I have always found him to be generous, surprisingly humble and talented beyond belief,” Farah wrote. “I think of him as a talent who combines the comedic instincts of Jackie Gleason with the incisive political punditry of another dear old friend, William F. Buckley.”
Farah said Limbaugh “has only gotten better – which says a lot because he started out so polished and so strong.”
Addressing Limbaugh directly, Farah wrote:
Rush: I could say so much more about you. I wanted to do more to pay tribute to you on this special achievement and for all you’ve meant to me over 30 years. But, suffice it to say, my admiration grows daily. You are an inspiration to me, an unsurpassed human resource in the cause of liberty and a beloved and unique American icon. Thanks for your friendship and all you do for our country.