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On this day in history, Jan. 12, 1951, radio legend Rush Limbaugh ‘born to be a broadcaster’ in Missouri

Legendary American broadcaster Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri to a prominent local family on this day in history, Jan. 12, 1951.

“He was born to be a radio broadcaster,” Limbaugh’s younger brother, David Limbaugh, told Fox News Digital. 

“Our father instilled in us a love for America, its founding institutions, its cultural values and its freedom tradition,” he also said.

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Limbaugh’s profound political commentary was inspired by the classical thinkers and Founding Fathers whose philosophies forged the creation of the United States of America. 

It was packaged in an energetic, accessible and entertaining program that resonated deeply with millions of Americans. 

Rush Limbaugh reacts on Feb. 4, 2020, as he is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by first lady Melania Trump during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol.
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

LImbaugh spoke into his oft-referenced golden microphone, sharing his hope for America and wider mankind across his Excellence in Broadcasting (EIB) Network for three hours each weekday for 37 years (1984-2021). 

At its peak, “The Rush Limbaugh Show” aired on 650 radio stations and reached 15.5 million listeners each week, according to industry estimates.

“After breaking into a radio career in the 1970s, Rush Limbaugh was fired for being too controversial as a news commentator,” notes Biography.com. 

At its peak, “The Rush Limbaugh Show” aired on 650 radio stations and reached 15.5 million listeners each week. 

“However, by 1984, he had become the top radio host in Sacramento, California. Limbaugh’s greatest success came in August 1988, when ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’ (nationally syndicated from New York City by the ABC Radio Network) premiered.”

Rush Limbaugh, the influential media icon who transformed talk radio and politics in his decades behind the microphone, helping to shape the modern-day Republican Party, died on Feb. 17, 2021, at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer, his family announced.

Rush Limbaugh, the influential media icon who transformed talk radio and politics in his decades behind the microphone, helping to shape the modern-day Republican Party, died on Feb. 17, 2021, at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer, his family announced.
(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

“The Rush Limbaugh Show” coalesced a massive audience of everyday Americans who felt increasingly isolated, ridiculed and even dehumanized by institutions of power that by the 1980s were in a dizzying race to the left of the political spectrum.  

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“Prior to Rush, grassroots Americans were starved for a popular national voice delivering a politically conservative message, given the monolithic liberalism of America’s educational institutions, Hollywood and mainstream media,” said David Limbaugh.

“Millions of such Americans finally found their champion in Rush and validation for their ideas and values,” he also told Fox News Digital. “But it wasn’t just Rush mainstreaming conservatism that led to his explosive popularity. It was his combination of talents and intellect that enabled him to articulate his message in an entertaining way.”

Rush Limbaugh reached a new audience with his book “The Way Things Ought To Be” in 1992; and he followed it up a year later with “See, I Told You So.” 

Both books were bestsellers.

“Our father instilled in us a love for America, its founding institutions, its cultural values and its freedom tradition.” — David Limbaugh

Time magazine called his first book “the hottest nonfiction title since ‘Iaccoca,'” a reference to the popular 1986 biography by Chrysler chairman Lee Iaccoca. 

Limbaugh’s massive audience made him one of the most successful and popular figures in world broadcasting history. 

Rush Limbaugh speaking into his famous gold microphone in his studio during his radio show.

Rush Limbaugh speaking into his famous gold microphone in his studio during his radio show.
(Mark Peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)

His success also made him a lightning rod in the American culture wars and the subject of daily attacks from leftists and political elites. 

“The conservative radio host will be remembered for a few enduring insults, a shameful history of bullying and making it OK to hate your neighbor,” podcaster Sam Thielman wrote for NBC News on Feb. 19, 2021. 

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Limbaugh had died of lung cancer only two days earlier, in Palm Beach, Florida.

He was constantly lampooned as a boorish, uneducated, flyover-state racist. These are the same attacks experienced today by millions of ordinary working Americans, dubbed the “deplorables” by Hillary Clinton, for daring to deviate from ever more radical leftist orthodoxy.

The boisterous broadcaster gave as good as he got. Clinton was a favorite target. Limbaugh often mocked her dress and oversized “cankles.”

Limbaugh’s profound political commentary was inspired by the classical thinkers and Founding Fathers. 

Listeners loved that Limbaugh punched back at a time when they felt silenced in their jobs, on social media or in the public square.

Limbaugh fueled his critics with bombastic language that made him seem a larger-than-life figure — the “Doctor of Democracy” and “America’s Truth Detector.”

Yet the lampooned image of Limbaugh failed to match the optimistic, philosophical voice that millions of Americans heard over the airwaves each day.

Rush Limbaugh on Feb. 8, 2005, speaking at San Jose Civic Auditorium in San Jose, California. 

Rush Limbaugh on Feb. 8, 2005, speaking at San Jose Civic Auditorium in San Jose, California. 
(Photo by John Medina/WireImage)

“We are the only country in the world with a Constitution that limits the government, that provides for the primacy of the citizen over government,” Limbaugh said, among his many memorable quotes. 

“That had never been done in the history of the world.” 

Limbaugh often noted that the individual is the smallest and most vulnerable minority in any society. In that statement, he was echoing the words of Russian-American author and political philosopher Ayn Rand.

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual,” she wrote. “Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

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“Countless people have told me he was the best friend they never met,” said David Limbaugh.

“He didn’t preach at his audience, he talked with them — they were part of his family. That’s why when he died, so many felt like they lost a family member.” 

“Rush created an army of gifted and passionate hosts and pundits who would continue to inform and inspire our fellow patriots.” — David Limbaugh

Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Donald Trump on Feb. 4, 2020, just a year before he died. 

“He is the greatest fighter and winner you will ever meet,” the president said as Limbaugh, sick with cancer, sat visibly moved in the audience of the U.S. Capitol.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh reacts as he is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 4, 2020. 

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh reacts as he is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 4, 2020. 
(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

“Rush Limbaugh: Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country.” 

The broadcaster’s success and unapologetic commitment to bedrock American ideals amid withering attack fueled a movement that continues to fight the culture wars today, David Limbaugh noted.  

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“American conservatives and patriots now have an irrepressible voice and thousands of champions articulating and promoting their values,” he said.

“[Rush] created an army of gifted and passionate hosts and pundits who would continue to inform and inspire our fellow patriots. He also inspired untold numbers of conservatives to engage in politics and to seek office to advance the conservative agenda.”


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