RUSH: Now, I said at the beginning, we don’t have a lot of audio from way back. We’ve done all that for the 10th anniversary, the 20th anniversary, and some for the 25th. But we do have some things here that I don’t think that we’ve aired — and if we have aired them, it’s been so long ago that I don’t even remember.
Some of them are actually kind of instructive in explaining how we got here, because they go back to 1989, which was a year after this program had started. But grab audio sound bite No. 1. This one, I have not heard. Now, what this is, Cookie has put together a montage of me when I was a disc jockey in suburban Pittsburgh. McKeesport, Pennsylvania. This is 1971. I was 20, and this was my first job away from home.
I remember I moved there in February of 1971, arrived in the middle of a blizzard with the windshield wipers on my 1969 Pontiac LeMans having shut down. The last 30 miles into town were harrowing. But there was no way I was gonna stop. I was gonna get there. I don’t know how I did it without running into something. But I got there. Now, anybody who does what I do here will tell you they don’t like looking at years’-old stuff. It’s embarrassing.
Like Sean Hannity has told me, he cannot stand watching tapes of the old Hannity & Colmes show — he can’t believe he looked so nerdy — and it’s the same thing here. I don’t watch myself on TV ever, even two hours after it’s done. And listening to old radio tapes, it’s painful. It really is painful. You know what I just thought of at the top-of-the-hour break? When some people have said — and, by the way, I don’t take this personally. Don’t misunderstand. These people that made this comment to me were not trying to be offensive.
Everybody wants to help. I have found that over the years. Friends, acquaintances, everybody wants to help, and people have said everything. “The show’s never been better!” “You know, I kind of liked it a little bit better way back when there was a lot more production value in it. You ever thought about going back to that?” I said, “Yeah, I have — and, in fact, I’ve even done it a couple times. I’ve gone back and done some of those updates, and I feel 10 years old again.”
I don’t know how else to say this, but I don’t reflect. Before I got to this point, I thought that I would. When I gazed around at other successful people in any field — be they athletes or businesspeople — I wondered, “What are their lives like? What do they do? Do they go home at night and think about all they’ve done? Do they just sit alone and think about what they’ve done and feel really good about it?” And I eventually got a chance to ask that question to a lot of people, and I can tell you the honest truth is that not one of them have said “yes.”
They’ve all said, “It never occurred to me,” and it doesn’t occur to me, either, ’cause the next day is too important if you take what you do seriously — and I do. When I talk about meeting and surpassing all of the expectations of you people in the audience, I mean that more than anything. So I’m always thinking forward. And I will beat myself up if I think I’ve done a lousy show or lousy job. But then I’ll console myself by saying, “There’s tomorrow to fix it.”
So she sends me this note and she says, “Do you know how few people can say they’ve had the same ethics, morality, conscience, political core beliefs, connectivity with themselves in their twenties, through their forties, and into their sixties, into their best years? Do you know how few people can say that?” I don’t think about it. I have had friends of mine say in the recent past, these last five or six years, “Why don’t you do something else?
“What else do you have left to prove? How many times can you say what you think? For crying out…” These are all people who’ve stopped doing what they were doing when I met them and they’re either not doing anything or trying to do something new. “Why don’t you just…? You could do anything! Why don’t you do something else?” ‘Cause I love what I do! I absolutely love it. There’s nothing else I want to do. There’s nothing. I’m not sitting around thinking, “What else could I do?”
If I do anything else, it would be an add-on to this with this remaining as the foundation, but to drop this and do something? That would never even occur to me, just like changing my core beliefs would never occur to me. Changing my beliefs and what I consider important and hold dear would never occur to me. So in that sense… The note goes on to say, “This is why you’re perceived as reliable.” But I don’t actively think about that.
I just try to be who I am day to day, and I have an opportunity to do it in public. So anyway, we get these old tapes, old examples, and they are always embarrassing. But at the time, I thought I was hot stuff. I mean, at any time — this Pittsburgh deejay stuff or 1992 during the Clinton years — I thought it was hot stuff. Go back and listen to some of it now? Honestly, some of it is good. I’ll admit some of it, yeah, that’s good. But a lot of it, “Ah, gee.”
But it’s true I think anybody, whether they look at pictures of themselves from the past or have audio or video reminders of themselves in the past… Not just appearance, but maturity level and all that. So I play this with some trepidation. I haven’t heard it. I vaguely remember it. Well, no. I don’t “vaguely” remember. I remember this like it was yesterday too. So, again, this is a station that was called WIXZ. “Wixie.” The format was oldies called “Salted…” (chuckles) “Solid Rock & Gold.” I called it “Salted Rot and Mold” after having to play the same 25 oldies for three years. But, anyway, Cookie put together a montage, and this is it…
BEGIN ARCHIVE CLIP
ANNOUNCER: Now WIXZ McKeesport continues with much more Wixie 1360 Solid Rock & Gold!
RUSH: That’s The Beatles 1967. Hello, Good-bye. It’s 7:03 in morning with Wixie Solid Rock & Gold for the morning rush hour. Sunny and cold today. Radar says a near 0% chance of precipitation. A big hand for Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Poluski, celebrating their 25th refrigerator payment today. (laughing) A little off-the-cuff humor there.
CHORUS: WIXZ radio! Solid Rock & Gooooooold!
(Mother Lode music)
RUSH: A Canadian group which has infiltrated the US of A back in 1969, Mother Lode and When I Die.
ANNOUNCER: WIXZ 1360, where the hits roll on!
RUSH: Osmond Bros, Get It On. A little hippie lingo there. Currently downtown it’s 19 degrees. Again, shooting for a high today of 31. This is Mercy.
RUSH: Women’s liberation theme song, Love Can Make You Happy. Mercy, three chicks from New York City. This is WIXZ McKeesport!
END ARCHIVE CLIP
RUSH: Right, Love Can Make You Happy, women’s liberation theme. See, I was on the feminazis even back in 1971. (interruption) Of course I hit the posts! There was nobody better at hitting the posts. (That’s talking up the music intro right to where they begin singing.) That was… (interruption) Of course, I can still do it! Absolutely! That’s the timing talent. Now, I want to jump forward to… Let’s see. Let’s go sound bite four and five. Sacramento, California, was the first place in my radio career where I had any kind of success.
I spent 10 years in Kansas City prior to that — five in radio and five working for the Kansas City Royals — and in none of that could I honestly say I had any success. In some of those places in some of those 10 years, I wasn’t even viewed as somebody who might be successful. After five years at the baseball team, I figured out I just can’t stand corporate life. It was too constricting. I’m not enough of a conformist. I don’t collaborate. I don’t want to collaborate.
Those five years at the Royals, I met people I would have never otherwise met, but I also learned what I was not good at doing. So I ended up back in radio, ’cause it’s the one thing I was happy at doing. Sacramento, California, is where I went, and that was the first time… That’s 1988, and I started radio 1966. Twenty years. I was 15 when I started. Twenty years! It took 20 years to have anything like success.
The first time in my whole broadcast career that I had any idea what a success track felt like and looked like. I knew what it didn’t look like (chuckling) and I knew what it didn’t feel like. But I’d never experienced it until Sacramento, which is why I’ve always that said it’s my adopted hometown. It was the first place I had lived outside of my hometown where I actually planted roots and became part of the community rather than just a passing personality passing through town onto the next town hoping for the next break.
So, after I left KFBK to do this program nationally, there was a natural pull to go back there and to express gratitude for all of the people there who had made it possible. So we started the Rush to Excellence Tour — which, if you’ve seen a Trump rally, it’s what the Rush to Excellence Tour was. When this program started, nobody knew who I was, and nobody thought syndicated radio in the daytime had a prayer. A bunch of people had tried it with moderate success, and I was just the next one — and if it didn’t work, nobody would think anything of it other than nice try.
I figured it would set me up for a better job later if it didn’t work, ’cause it never had. People thought you had to be local, local, local in the daytime doing radio. I didn’t believe that and wanted a chance to show it. So I started the Rush to Excellence Tour. Every time we’d get a new affiliate, I would go there. I would go for a weekend. I’d arrive on Friday night, have dinner with the radio station people and do a personal appearance on Saturday.
I’d fly back to New York on Sunday. I did that 48 weekends a year for the first two years to cement a relationship with the stations that took the show and to cement a bond with the audience. I was stunned at how many people showed up. It’d be 5,000. If the place held 10,000, that’s how many showed up. I would do an hour and a half, sometimes two hours with just some notes to remind me things I wanted to say. That’s why when Trump started his rallies, I knew exactly what was going on.
I was able to spot the bond ’cause I had lived it, and I knew exactly what was gonna happen with Trump’s supporters sticking with him ’cause I had lived it — and it happened. Well, one of those Rush to Excellence Tours I was hell-bent on going back to Sacramento, ’cause I felt I owed them so much. KFBK, the city, Sacramento, the audience there, the people that lived there. This was in… I don’t know what month this was.
But I think it was summertime, ’cause it was very hot, and they put the roof at ARCO Arena open during the day. For what reason, I don’t know. Probably some lib who wanted me… We were videotaping this. I said… I show up, you know, three hours before the event and the roof’s open! “What are you doing with the roof open?” “Don’t worry! It closes and it cools down real fast.” Well, it didn’t. But, anyway, the place was over 15,000 people in the place.
Clarence “Frogman” Henry showed up to sing Ain’t Got No Home, and the local paper wrote a very caustic piece of Frogman, claiming he was clueless, didn’t know how he was being used. He loved it! His career was being revived. He had the greatest time. But we got a couple of sound bites from that Rush to Excellence appearance. I think it’s cuts 4 and 5, and we have time to squeeze ’em both in. So here’s the first…
BEGIN ARCHIVE CLIP
RUSH: Six years ago, I was working for the Kansas City Royals. I had been in radio 12 years previous to that. I was working for the Kansas City Royals six years ago. It was the end of five years there. After five years there, I was making $18,000 a year. Now, I don’t know what kind of money that sounds like to you, but believe me in Kansas City, Missouri, at age 32 it’s an embarrassment if you take yourself seriously. And I was miserable. I was unhappy. I was aimless. I had given up on radio. I thought I’d already failed at that. I’d bombed out as a deejay. All I knew was Donny Osmond’s birthday, a couple things other things.
RUSH: And nobody’s gonna take deejays seriously. It really… I was down in the dumps. I had nowhere to go. I was really without any self-esteem whatsoever, and I talked to some friends and they said, “You know, you’re blaming the wrong people for this. It’s not the Royals. It’s not your friends. You’re sittin’ there miserable. Why do you put up with it? If you don’t like it, do something else. I said (whining), “What am I gonna do?”
RUSH: They said, “Well, what are you best at?” and I said, “Probably being on the radio.” “Well, there’s your answer! Do what you’re best at and you’ll at least be happy, regardless how well you do it.” So I decided to give radio one more chance, and it brought me here.
END ARCHIVE CLIP
RUSH: To KFBK Sacramento. It was actually a broadcast consultant who was consulting the station in Kansas City that I really went back to work for after the Royals for five years. He was the one who arranged it. “This guy’s got a chance to be something.” I actually was hired to replace Morton Downey Jr. who got fired for telling an ethnic joke. So, anyway, here’s the next continuation. This… Nope. Nope. We don’t have time, ’cause I gotta take a break or we’re gonna be in big trouble so Part 2 of that is coming up right after this.
RUSH: We’re back on our 30th anniversary today. We’re combining a number of elements into our usual program. We’re doing some archival stuff, some memory things. You know, things keep popping into my head. There is no way that I could begin to touch on or cover all of what I think are the important things that have enabled this program to thrive, because there’s so many different events, there’s so many people that have been involved. Starting down the road of trying to remember them…
You know, start at the beginning and go in chronological order? The minute you forget somebody, you’ve got problems. If you can’t mention them all, maybe it’s better not to start. But then so many of them are so important you have to mention ’em. So I’m hoping there’s enough time left today to do as much of this as I can because that’s what anniversary days are for. I remember Johnny Carson on his last show, The Tonight Show, made a point of saying: This is not a performance show.
Meaning there were no guests, no monologue, no jokes, no nothing. It was strictly a recap. It had some highlights. It had some heartfelt remembrances from Johnny Carson himself. But he made a point of saying it wasn’t a performance show, that was not an anniversary. It was his last show. This is an anniversary show, and parts of it are a performance show, but parts of it are archival and filled with remembrances.
That’s what I mean about combining these elements. Now, here is the second half of the bite. This is from the Rush to Excellence Tour stop in 1989. I hadn’t even been in New York a year yet, maybe 13 months. It could have been a year, but I don’t think so. I kept being pulled back to Sacramento because of how important it was in making this program possible. So here’s the second part. There’s 15,000 people in the crowd here at what’s called ARCO Arena then. Yeah, just hit it.
BEGIN ARCHIVE CLIP
RUSH: This whole experience, not one bit of it is work. Not one bit of it. It is all just more fun than I’ve ever had in my life. It is absolutely no hardship whatsoever to fly around the country, to see people, to be on the radio or any of that. But especially to come back here. You know —
RUSH: You enjoy my show, and I appreciate that more than you’ll ever know. I don’t want to beat this into the ground. I’m sure you’ve all felt like you aren’t gonna ever amount to anything even though you knew you were capable of it. I felt that way. The only difference between you and me is that I’m up here and you’re out there — and the only reason I’m up here is because you’re out there. Right? It’s true. You may enjoy my show, but I’ll tell you: You people — especially you people in this town and this area — you don’t know; so I’m gonna tell you.
You rejuvenated my life, because a successful radio person is not a success simply because he does what he does. People have to listen to it, appreciate it, and support it — and everybody in this room has. I mean, for me six years ago to be mired in loneliness and aimlessly walking through life, and then to come here and have tickets sell out in two hours? My friends, that hits me in the heart like nothing you can ever imagine will. I mean, I’ll tell you —
AUDIENCE: (whistling and applause)
RUSH: I —
AUDIENCE: (sustained ovation)
RUSH: You have rejuvenated my life, and you have made me something I never even thought I could be, and I have just one thing to say to you: A sincere and heartfelt thank-you.
BEGIN ARCHIVE CLIP
RUSH: That was in Sacramento. I wish I knew the month. It was 1989. I’d have to look up it up on the calendar, Rush to Excellence Tour. It had to be the summer, because it was hot as hell. I mean, hot — 110 degrees in the daytime out there — and, as I say, they had the roof open all day. “What the hell is this?” I did this thing in a tux! We were videotaping it. It went off like a dream. Anyway, it’s fun to relive these little things, these old moments. That stuff sounds… I remember Sacramento like it was yesterday. It doesn’t seem like 30 years ago.
RUSH: One more archival sound bite here, a little trip down memory lane. It’s hard to illustrate 30 years in sound bites, but we can teach a couple of lessons. Now, the update — which was a musical portion of the program — is one of the principal ways that I pioneered combining politics with comedy and music. A lot of people have done it since, but it first happened here, the combination of a serious discussion, irreverent humor, the playing of rock ‘n’ roll music on programs that people thought the audience would not be interested in. It’s pioneering stuff, and was used to educate, to laugh to create humor and also inform people of things I wanted them to know about the left.
BEGIN ARCHIVE MONTAGE
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut! Barney Frank Update time!
(My Boy Lollipop)
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut! Homeless Update!
(Ain’t Got No Home)
RUSH: Sometimes I sing with this. (Singing along with Clarence “Frogman” Henry)
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut! Update time! In a Yugo on the Rush Limbaugh Program.
(In a Yugo)
RUSH: General Dinkins Update Theme. Dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut!
(General David Dinkins Where Are You?)
RUSH: It’s time for a Timber Update. Dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut!
(Timber Update Theme Song)
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut! It’s time for a Gay Community Update Theme, folks! The vocal portrayal here by the late and great Klaus Nomi…
(The Nomi Song)
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut!
RUSH: This is our Animal Rights Update Theme, Andy Williams and his elevator shoes with the tune…
(Andy Williams singing, gunfire, animal sound effects)
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut! Peace Update! Slim Whitman sings.
(Una Paloma Blanca with nuclear blasts)
RUSH: Dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut dadelut! A Feminist Update.
(Men by the Forester Sisters)
RUSH: The feminazis are livid at me because of — well, general principles.
(Men by the Forester Sisters)
END ARCHIVE MONTAGE
RUSH: That’s how we taught. That’s how we laughed and made people aware of the mockery of the left and what they really were and the things they believed in. We occasionally go back to the Grooveyard of Forgotten Hits and relive ’em. Anyway, I’m out of time here, folks, I don’t have time to thank people, but we’ll do that tomorrow.
RUSH: Thank you all for being with us today and for every day you have been here the past 30 years. It is profoundly and deeply appreciated. We know how important it is, and it’s taken very seriously and with a great deal of respect. I look forward to all of you being back here same time tomorrow revved and ready to do it all over.