Rush Limbaugh has died. And it hurts. Significantly.
And that's kind of weird, isn't it? I mean, considering we've known this day was coming for over a year since his gut-wrenching announcement of stage 4, terminal cancer. Yet, despite knowing this day was coming, so many of us are left devastated and speechless.
It's easy. Rush Limbaugh was the very best. And we have all been lucky enough to witness this greatness in our lives in a very intimate way, every day for more than three decades.
It's impossible to not feel tremendous loss when that kind of brilliance is ripped away from our daily routine.
As a radio broadcaster with the unique opportunity to follow Rush on his DC affiliate, WMAL, I can tell you that what Rush was able to do, consistently, at the very highest level of a medium he helped create, was other-worldly.
Rush was to talk radio what The Beatles were to rock and roll. He was to talk radio what Tom Brady was to professional football. He was to talk radio what Michael Jordan was to basketball.
The Beatles, Brady, and Jordan were all truly gifted, that's obvious. But they also worked their butts off. They were obsessed with doing what they loved to do with passion and a level of perfectionism that their peers would only marvel at.
But what makes Rush's contribution to our culture even more significant is the sheer volume of his output. Three hours per day. Five days per week. Live. No edits, no do-overs, no second takes. For thirty years.
Think about that.
Now recognize that all of those hundreds of thousands of hours were delivered to millions of listeners for over three decades. He was number one when he hit the national scene in the early 1990s, and he remained at the top of his game right up to the end. That level of performance is un-equaled.
He was, without any quarrel, the best at what he did. He will never be equaled.
But the emotional impact of his passing goes well beyond the excellence of his daily creative output. It was the intimacy of the medium in which he dwelled.
No other mass communication medium is as intimate and personal as talk radio. Rush was literally a part of our lives every single day. He talked to us, and he made it seem very personal. He was talking to you. We felt like we knew him. And we were damn sure he knew us.
Even more important, our daily conversation would often take place in a very solitary and personal setting. He was the person in the car with us as we were driving our mundane commute. Or he was the person in our empty home filling the silence before the kids came home from school. Or he was the person talking to us in our earphones at work because the liberal in the cubicle next to us would go nuts if we put Rush on speaker.
That kind of intimacy creates a real relationship. And he was always saying the thing that was on our minds.
This is a very important point... because Rush's critics always... always misunderstood him. Maybe it was purposeful. Rush's critics always depicted him as an angry flame-thrower ranting into his microphone and giving marching orders to his army of ignorant, brainwashed minions.
They couldn't be more wrong about all of that.
Rush was always smiling... and he was always funny. And he wasn't giving us marching orders by telling us what to think. It was, in fact, the very opposite.
Rush wasn't telling us what to think; he was articulating what we already believed. He was just the first to come along and respect us for our views, told us he shared them, and then he used his talents (on loan from God) to crystalize those ideas and articulate them in a clever, succinct, and entertaining way. And... never forget this... he was communicating those ideas on our behalf.
He was there for us. Not to tell us what to think but to help us articulate what we believed and remind us that we are not alone. And he did that in a very personal way.
That kind of emotional connection through conversation is not easily ripped away from us without it leaving a mark... a hole. And, make no mistake, it is a hole that will not be replaced. Never.
There was only one Rush. And he was the very best at what he did. And he did it at the top of his industry for more than three decades.
And now, he's gone. And we are hurting. And that space he filled so well is empty and will never be filled.
We are left with one common realization: We were so lucky to have him while we did.
And now, it's up to all of us to carry on and see his vision through. We are not alone. We never were. And we must keep his conversation going. Somehow.
Thank you, Rush. Time to give that talent back to God he so generously lent you. Thank him for us.
Rest in peace.