The Rush Limbaugh Show
The Rush Limbaugh Program|
Rush Limbaugh on the EIB Network
|Running time||3 hours (noon – 3 p.m. ET)|
|Country of origin||United States|
KFBK, Sacramento (1984–88)|
WABC, New York City (1988–2013)
WJNO, West Palm Beach (2000–present)
WOR, New York City (2014–present)
|TV adaptations||Rush Limbaugh (1992–96)|
|Hosted by||Rush Limbaugh|
|Created by||Rush Limbaugh|
|Executive producer(s)||Cookie Gleason|
|Recording studio||Palm Beach County, Florida (1996–present)|
since August 1, 1988 (national) – present
|Opening theme||"My City Was Gone"|
The Rush Limbaugh Show is a conservative American talk radio show hosted by Rush Limbaugh on Premiere Networks. Since its nationally syndicated premiere in 1988, The Rush Limbaugh Show has become the highest-rated talk radio show in the United States.
Show airtime and format
The Rush Limbaugh Show has a format which has remained nearly unchanged since the program began. The program airs live and consists primarily of Limbaugh's monologues, based on the news of the day, interspersed with parody ads, phone calls from listeners, and a variety of running comedy bits (some live, some taped). Limbaugh also does live commercials during the show for sponsors. He sometimes promotes his own products, such as his political newsletter, The Limbaugh Letter, or his Rush Revere children's history books. Occasionally, Limbaugh features guests, such as a politician or fellow commentator. A toll-free telephone number is announced for incoming calls from listeners. However, Limbaugh generally takes far fewer calls per show than most other national talk radio programs.
The listeners to the show are referred to as "Ditto-heads". Early in the show's run, listeners began to use the variations on the expression "ditto" to speed up the beginnings of calls, which tend to open with the listener expressing his or her gratitude to the host and an appreciation of the show. Mr. Limbaugh claims the term originated with a caller who said "ditto what the previous caller said".
An edited instrumental version of The Pretenders' “My City Was Gone” has been Limbaugh's theme song since the start of his show. Briefly in 1999, Limbaugh stopped playing the song after a "cease and desist" order was issued by EMI. After the song's writer, Chrissie Hynde, said in a radio interview she did not mind the use of the song, an agreement was reached with EMI. The show airs live on weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time. A limited, and decreasing, number of stations (such as WHO in Des Moines) air it on tape delay. The program normally originates from Limbaugh's studios near his home in Palm Beach County, Florida, where Limbaugh has lived since 1996. WJNO, Limbaugh's affiliate in Palm Beach County, serves as the de facto flagship station. In the early years of the program, it normally originated from the studios of WABC in New York City (the program's original flagship station), which as of 2013 still served as the home to some of the program's staff and broadcast facilities. As of late 2013, his show is now heard in the New York market on iHeartMedia's (parent of Premiere Networks) WOR-AM. Limbaugh stated in 2009 that he avoids New York as much as possible due to that state's high taxes and that he, at the time, spent an average of 15 days in the state, usually to keep updated with his staff and as a backup in the event of a hurricane (in the latter case, he was seeking an alternative location). Despite Limbaugh's physical location in Florida, WABC introduced Limbaugh with Johnny Donovan's announcement: "Broadcasting from high atop the WABC broadcast center, overlooking Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan, this is New York City‘s most listened to talk radio host: Rush Limbaugh." Limbaugh announced he would officially sever his ties with WABC at the end of 2013. Limbaugh also produces a "Morning Update", a 90-second monologue recorded after the show that airs on many of Limbaugh's stations the next morning.
The Rush Limbaugh Show airs on a network of approximately 590 AM and FM affiliate stations throughout the United States, almost all of which air the program live. During its existence, WRNO broadcast the program on shortwave radio. Limbaugh also hosts his own online Internet streaming audio and video broadcast, through Streamlink. This broadcast is restricted to members of Limbaugh's “Rush 24/7” service, but can also be heard on some stations' streaming audio feeds. Premiere Networks, a division of iHeartMedia, the largest U.S. radio station owner, owns distribution rights to the program. The program is not heard on any stations in Canada, although stations along the northern border of the United States give the show coverage in much of southern Canada. The show has never been carried on any satellite radio service, and is one of the few nationally syndicated talk radio programs not to be featured on satellite radio. Limbaugh attributes this decision to a desire to maximize value for his terrestrial radio affiliates.
The Rush Limbaugh Show is unusual among syndicated radio programs in that it is fee-based; that is, radio stations pay iHeartMedia hundreds of thousands of dollars (the exact amount depends on market size) for the rights to carry his show, in addition to giving up 15 minutes of daily ad time for barter advertisements and the Morning Update.
An official weekend edition of the program, consisting of "best of" clips from the weekday show, entitled The Rush Limbaugh Week in Review, launched in January 2008.
In 1992, President George H. W. Bush made an appearance on Limbaugh's show. Charlton Heston called in to the show in 1995 to read from Michael Crichton's book Jurassic Park. Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on the show in November 2003 when Roger Hedgecock was guest-hosting the show.
Former President George W. Bush has appeared six times on the program. The first time was during the 2000 presidential campaign. Then, in 2004, he "called in" to a live broadcast during the week of the 2004 Republican National Convention to give a preview of his nomination acceptance speech. He called in again in 2006. The fourth time was April 18, 2008, when Limbaugh asked the White House to speak with Bush to thank him for the ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI, which awed Limbaugh. The fifth call was during the show's 20th anniversary celebration, in which then-President Bush (and George H. W. Bush and Jeb Bush) congratulated Limbaugh. He appeared a sixth time for an interview regarding his autobiography, Decision Points, on November 9, 2010.
In 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called in to a live broadcast of the show a day after having called Limbaugh "irrelevant", adding, "I'm not his servant. I'm the people's servant of California," on an appearance on NBC's Today show.
Other notable guests who have called in to Limbaugh's show include former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, unsuccessful Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, economist Thomas Sowell, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, and television writer Joel Surnow, who took calls about events in his show, 24. In December 2006, Sylvester Stallone made an appearance on the show to discuss his upcoming movie Rocky Balboa. On February 27, 2004, actor Jim Caviezel called in to the program to discuss The Passion of the Christ, in which Caviezel played the role of Jesus Christ. Republican vice presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin (R–AK) also called into a show before a rally in October 2008 to discuss the election and the economic distortion and impact of Senator Obama's tax policy; Palin returned to the show in November 2009 to discuss her book Going Rogue: An American Life. Phil Gingrey, a congressman who compared shows such as Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to "throwing bricks" in January 2009, gave an interview on Limbaugh's show the following day.
Limbaugh has also had author and Washington Times columnist Bill Gertz on his show to discuss Gertz's books as well as national security issues. In 2007, Limbaugh (among numerous other hosts) interviewed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and was the first to interview Tony Snow after his departure from his post as White House press secretary. He also interviewed NBC News host Tim Russert in 2004. In May 2010, country musician John Rich reported for Limbaugh on the May 2010 Tennessee floods.
Donald Trump appeared on the show April 15, 2011, and donated $100,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for which Limbaugh holds an annual radiothon. Trump also called in multiple times during his 2016 campaign. On December 6, 2012, Limbaugh landed an interview with outgoing Senator Jim DeMint shortly after he announced his resignation from his seat to head the Heritage Foundation. Each year, Rush and Kathryn Limbaugh make a sizable contribution to the Cure-a-Thon.
The Rush Limbaugh Show uses music as a significant part of the show. This comprises "Updates" (songs usually played at full length leading into a particular themed story, such as "Ain't Got No Home" by Clarence "Frogman" Henry for a story about homeless people or an eccentric New Wave version of "You Don't Own Me" by underground artist Klaus Nomi for a homosexual-themed story), parodies (see below), and bumper music, most of which spans the classic hits and classic rock eras of the 1960s through 1980s (roughly corresponding to Limbaugh's time as a disc jockey). On occasion, Limbaugh will feature a particular song that he likes, which will often have a positive impact on the song's sales. For instance, after playing Waldo de los Rios's version of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, the album that contained the song briefly jumped to the top of Amazon.com's sales charts. During the Christmas season, Limbaugh often plays Mannheim Steamroller as bumper music coming back from an "obscene profit break" in the programming. Limbaugh recently discussed the process involved in selection of the "bumper music" (music clips at the beginning and end of segments transitioning to and from the show and paid advertisements) when a listener commented that artists like "The Pretenders" reportedly did not 'approve' of the use of songs such as "My City Was Gone" as the band is decidedly liberal. Limbaugh mentioned that he selects music with some sarcasm taken into consideration. He also said that some bands had complained about his use of their music but since the "bumper music" clips were less than eight seconds, the use of the music is legally considered "fair use".
Occasionally, The Rush Limbaugh Show will air political parodies from voice humorist Paul Shanklin, in conjunction with a variety of political news examined on the show. These satires range from parodies of well known songs to audio skits in which the voices of politicians are imitated by Shanklin. Such contributions from Paul Shanklin have been aired on the show since 1993. Some of these, such as "Barack the Magic Negro", referring to the titled Los Angeles Times article written by David Ehrenstein, gained considerable notoriety. From 1993 through 1997 a series of parodies written and performed by the similarly named Paul Silhan, including take-offs on Bob Dylan tunes referred to by Limbaugh as the "Bob Zimmerman" songs, were also played on his show. (Bob Zimmerman is the birth name of Bob Dylan.) Silhan created his parodies by writing and then recording all the voices and instruments himself using simul-synch recording techniques. The six albums of Silhan's Limbaugh parodies are available on the Web.
As with most commercial radio programming, The Rush Limbaugh Show has slots allotted for the local affiliates to fill with news segments, traffic, weather, and local commercials. The “Rush 24/7” live internet broadcast of the show usually fills these time slots with Shanklin's parodies.
This section details only events which were primarily about the show and not about Limbaugh himself; of course, because Limbaugh and his show are so intertwined, it can be difficult to separate the two. Please see Rush Limbaugh for events in Limbaugh's life which may have impacted the show.
After several years of employment with the Kansas City Royals and in the music radio business, which included hosting a program at KMBZ in Kansas City, in 1984, Limbaugh started as a regular talk show host on AM radio station KFBK in Sacramento, California. He succeeded Morton Downey Jr. in the time slot.
Based on his work in Sacramento, Limbaugh was signed to a contract by EFM Media Management, headed by former ABC Radio executive Edward McLaughlin. Limbaugh became syndicated on August 1, 1988 through EFM and his show was drawing five million listeners after two years of syndication. Lacking a name for the network during the early years, he coined the name "EIB (Excellence In Broadcasting) Network," which has remained associated with the show even after joining an actual radio network.
In 1997, Jacor Communications, a publicly traded company, acquired EFM. Later that year, Jacor merged with Premiere Radio Networks. In 1999, Jacor merged with Clear Channel Communications, which rebranded as iHeartMedia in 2014; Clear Channel and iHeart have maintained what is now branded as Premiere Networks as their syndication wing since acquiring it.
Limbaugh and Clear Channel signed an eight-year, $400 million contract extension in July 2, 2008. He signed a new contract for four additional years in a deal announced August 2, 2016, after Limbaugh publicly contemplated retirement. Limbaugh is believed to have taken a pay cut to remain on the air after advertisers pulled funding in response to boycotts around his criticism of Sandra Fluke (see Controversial Incidents) and industry-wide advertising declines.
- Farhi, Paul (March 7, 2009). "Limbaugh's Audience Size? It's Largely Up in the Air". Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
Graeme Turner (January 2010). Ordinary People and the Media: The Demotic Turn. SAGE Publications. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-84860-167-3.
Gregory L. Schneider (16 November 2009). The Conservative Century: From Reaction to Revolution. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-7425-6394-0.
David S. Kidder; Noah D. Oppenheim (14 October 2008). The Intellectual Devotional Modern Culture: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Converse Confidently with the Culturati. Rodale. p. 323. ISBN 978-1-60529-793-4.
Beverly Merrill Kelley (22 March 2012). Reelpolitik Ideologies in American Political Film. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7391-7208-7.
Michael Ryan; Les Switzer (2009). God in the Corridors of Power: Christian Conservatives, the Media, and Politics in America. ABC-CLIO. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-313-35610-0.
Ho, Rodney (3 April 2014). "Rush Limbaugh leads Talkers Heavy Hundred radio talk show list for eighth year in a row". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
He is heard by more than 14 million listeners a week nationally, according to Talkers estimates.
- Peters, Jeremy W. (August 21, 2011). "A Conservative Beachhead in the Sunshine". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Hinckley, David (28 July 2013). "Rush Limbaugh rushing out of Cumulus Media to WOR, with Sean Hannity in tow". New York Daily News. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- "El Rushbo to New York: Drop Dead". RushLimbaugh.com. March 30, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
...I go to New York now for hurricane relief, whenever a hurricane hits. No other reason to go there. Well, sometimes I visit the overrated staff...
- Barmash, Jerry (November 9, 2010). "Is WABC Radio Misleading Listeners?". Fishbowl NY. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Parks, Darryl (May 27, 2015). "The Business of Being Rush Limbaugh". Retrieved June 3, 2015.
- "Right-thinking Rush Limbaugh comes to TV". Google News Archive. The Day. September 30, 1992. p. 1. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
- Excerpts from Rush's 2004 interview with Tim Russert.
- Lewis, Matt (2011-04-15). Trump donates 100K to Rush Limbaugh's Cure-a-Thon. The Daily Caller. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- Cirilli, Kevin (December 6, 2012). "Jim DeMint tells Rush Limbaugh how to fix GOP, tweaks Boehner", Politico. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Amazon.com Music Bestsellers. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- "Origins of the EIB Theme Song". The Rush Limbaugh Show. Premiere Radio Networks. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Statement on the Copyright Law and Fair Use in Music". Music Library Association. February 1996. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Grooveyard of Forgotten Favorites". The Rush Limbaugh Show. Premiere Radio Networks. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- Paul Shanklin. "Barack the Magic Negro".
- Grossberger, Lewis (16 December 1990). "The Rush Hours". New York Times.
- "Jacor buys `Rush' syndicator". Cincinnati Business Courier. March 18, 1997.
- "Jacor Completes Acquisition of Premiere Radio Networks, Inc" (Press release). Jacor Communications, Inc. June 12, 1997.
- "Clear Channel Deal Backed, With Sales Set". New York Times. 1999-04-27. pp. C11.
- Sarah McBride (July 3, 2008). "Clear Channel, Limbaugh Ink $400 Million New Contract". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
- Stelter, Brian (August 2, 2016). "Rush Limbaugh renews contract". CNN Money. Retrieved August 2, 2016.