Back in the '90s, an admittedly sappy movie was made for less than $7 million, but it reaped over $80 million at the box office. "Mr. Holland's Opus" starred Richard Dreyfuss as a high school music teacher who tenaciously plodded along the daily grind of teaching music. All the while, he was privately composing his own "An American Symphony," apparently never to be performed.
In what follows below, I'd like to honor another man's life's work. His career has been in a much different field than teaching music, but his ultimate triumph reminds me of the inspiring Dreyfuss film.
For the last year or so, it's been open season on America's conservative-leaning radio talk-show hosts. During the 2008 presidential campaign, it often seemed that Barack Obama was running against star TV and radio host Sean Hannity, instead of against Republican John McCain. (That's likely because Hannity was a much tougher and charismatic threat than the GOP nominee.)
Months later, we witnessed another high-ratings radio host, Michael Savage, get literally banned from Great Britain. Next, the Democrats decided to treat the godfather of talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, as if he were the elected leader of Republicans nationwide. They attacked him at every turn. Limbaugh was even forced out of a potential ownership position with an NFL team because of that league's fear of controversy. Freedom of speech was nothing more than a cumbersome inconvenience to Limbaugh's detractors.
But there's good news for this industry, too. This first weekend in November, the great luminaries of the talk radio world are gathering in Chicago to honor another one of their colleagues, the unique Neal Boortz. The nationally syndicated talk show host is being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Boortz is Libertarian conservative whose ideas and fast-paced interaction with listeners have earned him millions of listeners nationwide.
Boortz came to national prominence a little differently than some of his colleagues who followed him into the field. After college, he moved to Atlanta. The city was growing, but its media market was nothing as big as it is today. He worked as a speechwriter to the governor and as a department store's buyer of fine jewelry, among other jobs.
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