Back Home Button
The Rush Limbaugh Show
Excellence in Broadcasting
RSS Icon


How Did You Stay on Top for 25 Years?


RUSH: We're gonna start on the phones in Brooklyn.  This is Gary.  Great to have you, sir, on the EIB Network.  Hello.

CALLER:  Hi.  How are you doing?

RUSH:  Very good.  Thank you.

CALLER:  Great.  I just wanted to say that I have noticed that in your career, you've had an intense anti-PR campaign against you throughout the media. You've been on the radio for decades, you've translated that fame into going into another business, your tea business, and all the while you seem to be able to come out on top.  I was wondering how you forge that relationship.  Because, you know, personally -- after I start a business -- I just want to know how you do it from the beginning.

RUSH:  Well, I want to make sure I understand the question.  I've been doing this 25 years. You're wondering, despite all of the organized, never-ending PR and media attacks against me, how does the show stay highly rated and we open a second successful business?

CALLER:  Yeah.  I mean, you're currently number one in your field despite everything said.  I mean, I know growing up, especially in Brooklyn, I heard that you were the worst person possible. But, you know, you're still here. You're still number one. You still get many people listen to you.

RUSH:  Well, you know, we here do not run PR campaigns.  We do not run image campaigns.  We don't do anything like that.  I'll tell you what it is, as best I can figure out -- and it's gonna sound syrupy to you, but I think it's right on the money.  I think this is the greatest and the most loyal audience in media today.  The question then becomes: Why is that?  How did that happen?  And, you know, I don't really know for sure. 

In answering that one I'm gonna sound a little braggadocious, but I think it has to do with the fact that they know I don't look down on 'em.  They know that I sincerely appreciate them listening every day.  They know that I sincerely appreciate and understand their patronizing of my sponsors.  They know that I don't lie to them.  They know that I don't say outrageous things just to get noticed.  They know that I'm not out trying to trump and build myself up -- and they just trust me. 

There's a familial-type bond with this audience. They believe me -- and I have never, ever, trampled on that, and I've never even gotten close to trying to discard it.  This program every day is done for the audience, not for the media, not for my friends. It's done for the audience, and every day I try to do better and meet their expectations than the day before. Translate that into customer service in whatever you're gonna do, and the same thing will happen to you.


RUSH: There are a couple more aspects, I think, in the answer to the question we got from the guy in Brooklyn.  I forget his name, but it was a really good question.  He's starting his own business, thinking of opening his own business, and he wanted to know how it is that, after 25 years, with all the competition and with all of the organized media and PR efforts to destroy this program, why is it still here?  And not only that, why is it still number one?  Why is it still triumphing and championing over all these efforts to shut it down? 

The media succeeds in shutting down things they want to shut down, destroying things they want to destroy.  Ask Romney.  Ask McCain.  I mean, ask any number of people.  The media wants to shut 'em down, destroy them, they can.  And he wanted to know why that hasn't happened, despite a 25-year concerted effort to.  Now, let me build on the answer. 

I think the fundamental answer to it, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart. I have always described the relationship that I have with all of you in the audience as almost being like a familial one, a family relationship.  Now, I don't look down on the audience and I don't think I'm better than anybody in the audience, and I'm eternally grateful for everybody in the audience being here every day.  And I convey that.  This sense of appreciation is obvious. 

My friends say, "You know what, you've been doing this for 25 years.  You could quit or you could phone it in. You could take it easy. Why do you still get so intense?"  And that's because I do this for the audience.  I know that people show up here with really high expectations.  And even today, after 25 years, if I think, at the end of the program, that it was not as good as it could have been or if I goofed up or just anything, I will fret about it for hours, and I'll think about fixing it the next day.  It is the most important aspect here. 

You know, I say that the business purposes of the program is to build the largest audience possible and hold it for as long as possible to charge confiscatory advertising rates.  What that really means is this program would not exist without the audience patronizing sponsors.  It's just that simple.  If that doesn't happen, none of the other will happen for very long.  And so what makes that happen?  Well, there has to be a level of credibility and trust. 

The audience -- I'm gonna speak of you all in third person for a second. I'm gonna pretend I've still got this guy on the phone.  The audience believes me when I tell them I like something, I believe in something, or I don't like something, or don't believe in it, and they trust that I'm telling them the truth.  They don't think I am manipulating them.  They don't think I'm lying to them.  Customer service is another word for this, and it is at the top of the list of things that matter. 

On my mind, every day when I do this program: empathy.  Empathy is actually maybe the number one required ingredient.  I have to be able to sense how you are receiving things. I have to be able to sense, if you're driving around and your finger's poised to change stations, I have to be able to sense that and do something to make you stop.  That wouldn't be good if you did that.  I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with it, but it's a constant focus. Almost a hundred percent of my energy is focused on the audience of the program, meeting their expectations, servicing, whatever term you want to use. 

But then the other element is this.  When I started in 1988, I was it.  What also must be factored is there was a hunger for a national media conservative voice in this country, and there wasn't one, forever.  Not broadcast.  There were some magazines and stuff, but not broadcast.  And from 1988 until the mid-nineties, I was it.  And so there's I think a little bit of a bond of loyalty simply because that void was being filled, and what's crucial about that void is, and if you want to talk about this bond of loyalty that exists between me and the audience, and it's the one thing the critics have never understood about this show and never will understand about it, and it's this. 

When I started this program and started telling everybody what I think about things in the unique ways I chose to tell you what I think, the realization was that finally you had somebody on the radio saying what you already thought.  You were being validated.  Your ideas, your political opinions, were being validated, "Okay, here's somebody on the radio who thinks just like I do."  Now, the media portrays me as a Svengali. You're a bunch of mind-numbed robots and I come here every day and I fill your endless, empty brains with propaganda.  That's what they think happens. 

The truth of the matter is you already thought what you thought, you already believed what you believed.  I came along and validated it.  And so there was an appreciation there, but it really, I think, boils down to truth.  When I tell you, for example, that you're not gonna lose this show, I'm the Doctor of Democracy, not gonna lose this show, it's gonna be on the station you're always expecting it to be on, that's true. Unlike Obama, who tells you you're never gonna lose your doctor, and you will.  Now, this is not to say I don't challenge this relationship and disappoint people, 'cause I have.  But the fact that people have stuck with it is a testament to the strength of the bond. 

I'll wrap this up by saying, I think the audience, I think you understand how very much I love and appreciate you.  I think you understand how much I treasure and appreciate your being there.  And I treat everybody in this audience as though we're all good friends.  There's no talking down to.  There's no contempt or any of that.  And it's just fun, plus it's a good show.  You gotta throw that in there, too.  It's a good show.  We get the same comments when we deal with the customers either at the RushLimbaugh.com website or at the Two If By Tea website

You ought to see the e-mails we get at customer service, people say, "We're not used to being treated this way by companies," and so forth.  It's just we have a profound amount of respect for you. You know what?  I think it comes from the family.  Let me tell you a little bit about my mother.  One quick thing before we go to break.  For the longest time, first five, ten years of this program, I'd go home to Missouri to see her.  And I would be greeted with stacks and stacks of my books that members of the audience had sent her hoping I would sign and that she would send back.  And it got to be, I mean, oppressive.  I'd go home and there were hundreds and hundreds of these books that she'd been saving up for my next trip in.  And I would say, "Mother, could you put that aside?  I came here to see you." 

"You sign these.  These people went to the trouble of sending these here.  You sign these so I can send them back."  And sometimes it would take me a whole weekend to do it.  My mother was just so ecstatic that so many people liked her son.  I mean, people would pull off the highway in Cape Girardeau and drive by her house, and she'd let 'em in, and one of the people she let in was from National Enquirer.  She gave him a bunch of family secrets, said, "We Limbaughs have nothing to hide."

I said, "Mother, it's my business.  I'm in charge of what they get to see." 

"No, no, no.  You don't know.  I know what's better for you because we got nothing to hide." 

I said, "Oh, yes, we do, with those people." 

Anyway, so that's a rather long answer, but it just all boils down to just be grateful for every customer you've got if you're starting a business.  And make 'em know, let 'em know that you are grateful and you appreciate 'em. 

Gotta take a brief time-out, we'll come back.  I know the stick-to-the-issues crowd's going nuts out there about now, but this is Open Line Friday, and that's what that's for. 



Rush 24/7 Audio/Video

Listen to the Latest Show Watch the Latest Show
Listen to the Latest Show Watch the Latest Show




Most Popular

EIB Features