I work for Town Square Media and a number of our company's 322 radio stations, like KIT, for years carried and enjoyed much success with the Rush Limbaugh Show.

What happens next now that Rush has died from complications of lung cancer is uncertain. The corporate response for now is “Rush was one of the greats in radio. You may have loved him or you many have disagreed with him. But one thing everyone acknowledges: He made an indelible impact on radio and the political scene.”

No kidding.  Show of hands from every talk show host in America who will admit that they owe their career to the path forged by America's Real Anchorman, the Truth Detector, with Talent On Loan From God.

I proudly add myself to the list of those who owe it all to El Rush-bo.

Local radio historians say Rush was added to the KIT lineup in 1988 but I was working in TV news at KAPP 35 at the time and only knew of Limbaugh as some supposed "blow hard" guy on AM radio.  It wasn't until about 1995 when I went to work selling radio advertising for local Country Music station KXDD that I started to listen to talk radio.  I spent a lot of time in my car driving around on sales calls so I had plenty of regular exposure to his show.

Rush always said you wouldn't "get" his show if you just listened a few times.  He said you had to give it a couple weeks before it made sense and he was right.  My initial reaction was not only "who's this guy?" but "Who the heck does this guy think he is?"

The sarcasm, the absurdities, the braggadocio, the parodies, the analogies - they were surprising, even shocking at times....but they were smart and funny and slowly it came together for me - an entertainment program mixed in with his common sense conservative views on the economy, government, education and the culture.

He was hilarious, brilliant, a genius really and it's too bad so many critics got stuck on the shock value at first exposure.   With a little more time spent listening, a little more context and backstory and a little more honesty and introspection and perhaps his multimillion person audience night even have been bigger that it was and it was already the all-time biggest at over 57-million listeners across all platforms including 600 commercial radio stations.

A few months into listening to his show I was asked to fill in for two weeks on a talk show at what was then as sister station to KKDD.  It was a weak AM signal station called Chat 980 KCHT and it was a blast.  I had no idea what I was doing but for year and a half I was there I had an invisible mentor named Rush Limbaugh who came on at 9 am who showed me how to formulate great arguments, how to point out absurdities using absurdity and where sarcasm and sensitivity each played best and so much more.

I claim absolutely no comparison to the one-of-a-kind Rush Limbaugh but the things I learned listening to his presentation sort of gave me permission to explore outside the lines with my own style and delivery when I got my next chance on the radio in 2001.

My TV News job at KNDO was ending after five years and the management at KIT was looking to make a change in their morning program so I was invited to interview and got the job.  Now I would be Rush's "warm up act" from 6 to 9 am each weekday which I have loved for the last 20 years.

One of the ways I have calculated if I was on point with our program each day is by listening to what Rush was talking about from 9 to noon to hear what his take was on the hot topics of the day.  When our choice of material lined up with his, it was a win in my mind.

Now we are on our own and we will miss him.  But that's ok.  His message always was that we all could and should think for ourselves, stand up for ourselves, love our Country and defend the freedom liberties it provides without having to lean on a leadership class.

Critics said Rush tried to tell everyone how to think.  That was wrong.  Rush was the voice that was saying back to us what we already were thinking.  He gave conservatives a nationwide voice with humor and grace, bombast and wisdom and the never ending optimism that America was worth fighting for.  Time now to see if we all learned the lessons woven into the entertainment.

Thanks Rush, for the example, the job, the hope for the future and thanks for the memories.

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