RUSH: Greetings, my friends, and you are listening to a five-time winner of the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi award for excellence in syndicated and network broadcasting. Rush Limbaugh, on Friday. Let’s hit it.
JOHNNY DONOVAN: And now, from sunny south Florida, it’s Open Line Friday!
RUSH. Yes siree, Bob! Open Line Friday, where you know how things play out. Monday through Thursday the people that call the program have to talk about about something I care about to get on the air. But Friday you don’t. You can talk about whatever you want. Questions, comments, you name it, telephone number is 800-282-2882. We always try to take more calls on Friday. We seldom achieve that, but we always try.
There was a football event last night. They actually played a game in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. More about that in a minute. We have a race. Men in sports, both at the executive level and in the media level, are in a race to see who can be the most politically correct feminized guy in America. And of course there are a plethora of reasons for that, some of which we will delve into here.
But while I was watching the game last night, or trying to get into it — I’m telling you, it’s different this year and it’s not just Ray Rice. It’s a sum total of everything about football that has nothing to do with football that is souring me on the whole thing. It just isn’t what it was to me. It certainly isn’t an escape. It’s no longer Fantasyland.
Anyway, I’m sitting there, I’ve got the game on and I’m working on show prep at the same time. I get an e-mail and then another e-mail, and three or four more e-mails, and the e-mails keep rolling in. The National Association of Broadcasters convention annual convention is in Indianapolis this year, and last night was the grand conclusion gala awards dinner at which they hand out the Marconi awards.
Marconi awards are given in several categories by market size, the station of the year, legendary station, media market, small market, major market, and then small market personality, media market person and so forth and so on. There’s a category for syndicated or network host. I have been nominated for that award 12 times. Last night I won it for the fifth time, joining the late Paul Harvey as the only person to win it five times, which I didn’t know until I was told later last night. I’d lost track ’cause we’ve got them in different places.
Two of them are here and two of them are at home. I’d lost count, so somebody told me, “It’s your fifth and only Paul Harvey has won that many.” So, you know, it’s an acknowledgement from the industry, which makes it even more meaningful and profound. The people that vote on this are people that operate radio stations, operate and program radio stations in all formats. Nominations are sometime in the summer, then the vote’s conducted sometime after that. And this year’s nominees, I mean, they were tremendous competition in the category, and I, frankly, thought I’ve got no chance. I’m old news.
I’m in my 26th year. Some of the nominees were up for their first or second time. So I was totally surprised. I’d had no expectation of winning this thing. I have more than my share, for example, they might want to spread it around. But then again it’s a legitimate private vote. I think every radio station involved — it used to be you get two votes, general manager, program director, something. So, to me, it is a huge deal because it’s voted on by professionals in the industry.
I just want to take a moment here to sincerely thank everybody in the broadcast business. You know, radio is considered to be, and has been for a long time — this is nothing that’s relevant to anything now. It’s just always been the case. Since television was invented, radio has always been considered, by the entertainment media, anyway, to be among the lowest rungs of the show biz ladder. And it’s the only media that I have ever really loved. I have a deep devotion to the importance of radio, to the history and legacy of it. I actually believe, and always have, that radio done well can have as much impact, if not more so, than television.
Even though there aren’t any pictures, that’s the beauty of it. You can create your own in the minds of the listeners. But the great thing about radio, aside from that, I think radio offers the opportunity for the most direct and intimate relationship or bond with the audience of all media, and the reason precisely is because there aren’t any pictures. There are no pictures to distract anybody’s attention or to divide it.
A good radio program will create what I call “active” rather than passive listening. Active listening is the audience 100% engaged, hanging on everything that happens. Passive listening is when it’s on in the background and you’re doing other things. I don’t mean to be critical here, but just factually, that describes some Muzak, elevator music. Music formats are designed for things to be going on in the background while you’re doing something else.
Television, a lot of times the TV’s on in the room, nobody’s even paying attention to it. It’s just there to provide noise so that you don’t have to sit around in a dead silent room. Now, other times people are paying rapt attention to TV, don’t misunderstand. But radio done well is never in the background. Radio done well requires, I mean, it will create massive active audience participation. And that’s always been the attraction of it, to me. It’s always been the allure of it to me. And the fact that there aren’t any pictures means there’s no distraction from what is the focal point, or what is the importance, which happens to be whatever you’re saying or talking about.
It’s a talent to begin with, but it’s a practiced and learned skill, and for all of this to happen the primary ingredient is empathy, which translates to total respect for the audience. Because the audience will know, you will know if you’re being mocked, if you’re being laughed at, if you’re being made fun of, if you’re thought of in less-than-respectful terms. One thing that I’ve always tried to do is maintain a respectful relationship with the audience. I assume that every one of you in this audience are here because you’re interested and you’re bright and you’re intelligent and you’re open, and therefore there’s no talking down to anybody here.
That’s the beauty of it all. When it all comes together and works, I don’t think there’s anything better than radio. And I think, because of that, radio has its own kind of — when I say “power,” I don’t mean manipulative power. I’m talking about the ability to motivate or inspire or any of the positive virtues. It has just as much ability to do that as any media that’s showing you pictures. I’ve done television and it’s fine, but I’m not a collaborative guy so TV isn’t for me. TV is a collaborative effort. You have to have five or six people knowing in advance what you’re gonna do before you do it in order to make it happen. And I don’t work that way. I don’t know what I’m gonna do in advance.
So TV is very hard for me. I can’t be spontaneous in television so it’s not as fulfilling as radio is. Radio is always going to be what it is to me. And to get this award for the fifth time is really a big deal to me, and I wanted again to thank everybody in the broadcast community who participated in the vote, and of course all of you. ‘Cause without any of you, without you, none of this would be happening at all. And that’s the recognition. Meeting and surpassing all audience expectations is not a joke.
When thinking about the program and what it’s gonna be, everything’s for the show, everything’s for the audience, is exactly the way I do it. I want to play just a little sound bite here before we get to the things happening in the news out there, and it is juicy today. I am chomping at the bit. I cannot wait to begin discussing with you how CBS prevented a football game last night. But I want to take you back to my appearance on William Shatner’s television show on the Biography Channel. It’s called Shatner’s Raw Nerve.
The show was an hour, I think it was. It ended up the taping was two and a half hours, and I said, “This is so good that you’re not gonna be able to edit this down to one hour. You’re gonna need to do a bonus episode.” And they all readily agreed and then they chopped it up and made it an hour. It was good. It was fine. I was just joking with ’em. But it was December 6th of 2009, so five years ago when this aired. And Shatner says, “You brought something with you here you wanted to show me to discuss.”
RUSH: I did. My parents, despite what I told you earlier about being frightened of my being on the radio, gave me this for Christmas when I was nine years old. This is a Remco Caravelle, and it actually transmits —
SHATNER: It transmits?
RUSH: It transmits on an AM frequency of your choice for 500 feet. And I would take this up to my bedroom and play records and play deejay —
SHATNER: To the house.
RUSH: — to the house, and my mother and dad would sit down and listen to me. It sounded like — the quality was horrible, but I was on the radio.
SHATNER: And did they indulge you?
RUSH: They gave me this for Christmas.
SHATNER: Isn’t that something. Let’s give little Rushie a prize which he’ll grow out of and go on to college. We know that he will.
RUSH: I had quit the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts. I was a quitter. I’d quit everything conformist I was supposed to do. This is the one thing I didn’t quit, radio, so they indulged me, “At least he’s showing some stick-to-itiveness.”
SHATNER: Right. Or were you afraid of disappointing them? And yet in a way —
SHATNER: And yet in a way you engineered it.
RUSH: Yeah. (laughing) That’s deep — that’s deep! That’s exactly right.
SHATNER: I’ve enjoyed this.
RUSH: Thank you, Bill, very much.
SHATNER: Very much.
RUSH: A pleasure to meet you, be on your show. Thank you for asking me.
SHATNER: You’re a gem.
RUSH: I only have that Remco back here in our Apple stash prize closet, I only have that because a listener sent his to me way, way back, long time ago. I told the story on the radio a long time ago, and so I’ve got it back there and I took it with me because they asked for visual aids ’cause it’s a television show, bring pictures, artifacts. I said, “I’ll take the Remco Caravelle. I’ve never shown anybody that.” So that’s what that was.
Anyway, it’s quite an honor to receive this in year 26th and for the fifth time. So thank you once again to everybody and anybody who had anything to do with it because trust me and believe me, it’s more than sincerely appreciated.