RUSH: Andrew in Overland Park, Kansas, you’re next on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Dittos, Rush. How are you?
RUSH: Fine, sir. Thank you.
CALLER: Listen, I have a question that the more and more I listen to you, has crossed my mind, because I’ve listened to you since you began here in KC many years ago. I would like you to ponder this and maybe elaborate someday on what you’ve done in the whole transition of what is happened in radio since you started and when in your career you realized it was bigger than you thought it ever was going to be. Now that you’re running the nation (laughing).
RUSH: Yeah, right. (Laughing.) He’s talking about the Trent Lott comment.
CALLER: It is amazing to me that you’ve enlightened a generation of people, and it’s gotta have some consequence in your mind as to how it happened and what it’s become.
RUSH: Well, I’ll tell you this in all candor — and I once asked George Will this question when I interviewed him back in 1985. I said, ‘After your family has gone to bed at night and you’re still up, do you ever sit down and ponder what you have meant to your readers, your audience?’ He sort of cocked his head at me, and looked at me like he thought it was a stupid question, and his answer was, ‘No, I’ve got tomorrow to worry about.’ I didn’t know what to make of that. I thought, ‘How could he not ponder it? How could he not consider it?’ The honest answer here is (and I try to always give honest answers) that I’m not that reflective on it. I think about it because other people mention it to me. In fact, I got an e-mail from a guy who says, ‘Look, I compare you to the Steelers and the Yankees and all these great sports organizations, but even they have down years, even these teams that are considered perennial champions. You haven’t had a down year in 19 years. How do you do it?’
There’s a one-word answer for it that will require some explanation. I’ll try to get as much in before this is over, but it’s humility. Really. Despite all the bombast and the joking and the braggadocio, I don’t think about it. I think about it this way: part of your life in radio is that you can lose your job tomorrow. Now, that can’t happen to me in the way that it used to be able to happen, but I could clearly blow this, if I start taking it for granted and assuming that after 19 years the audience is going to be there, regardless of how much time I put into it. So I think what I’m most focused on is… I have a saying for everybody that works with me: ‘The show is the thing,’ meaning the audience is the thing, and what I focus on is making sure that those who are going to give me their time every day of get the best of me they can get, even after two hours’ sleep. If I fail to do that in my own assessment one day, then I’m obsessed about it ’til the next day to fix it. That’s as close as I ever get to it. There are other things about the transition in radio I can talk about when I get back.