TODD: It is Open Line Friday. We are talking to people about how Rush illustrated absurdity in ways that they remember. And there’s a famous Open Line Friday call right here, not only is the caller a lifetime Limbaugh listener, he’s from a town made famous by El Rushbo, Rio Linda, California.
RUSH: Branson, Missouri. Jack, welcome, sir. You’re next on Open Line Friday. Hi.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. Thanks for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet, sir. Welcome to the program.
CALLER: Yeah. Hey, so, I’ve been listening to you for 34 years. Back in Sacramento in 1984.
RUSH: Holy smokes!
CALLER: (chuckling) I go way back.
RUSH: You are a real lifer. Yeah.
CALLER: I’ve been with you the whole time, and I can remember the day, the first time you did safe talk.
CALLER: I lived in the suburb of Rio Linda, and I was driving down Highway 80 —
RUSH: Wait a minute.
CALLER: — and I laughed so hard, I had to pull over.
RUSH: You lived in Rio Linda?
CALLER: I mean, I died laughing. I was laughing so hard, I had to pull over.
RUSH: You lived in Rio Linda?
CALLER: A suburb of Rio Linda.
RUSH: “A suburb of Rio Linda.” I was gonna say, “Nobody admits it.” (laughing)
CALLER: Yeah. (laughing) Sacramento.
RUSH: (laughing) Safe talk. So you were laughing so hard you had to pull off the road?
CALLER: I had to pull off, Rush, and I’ve been laughing ever since. I really appreciate what you’re doing, and really appreciate the opportunity to tell you.
RUSH: But you got any thoughts…?
CALLER: That was way back. Sacramento is where you started and to get (garbled) —
RUSH: Oh, I know.
CALLER: (laughing) It was real good.
RUSH: I owe a lot to Sacramento. It was the first place in my entire radio career where I had any meaningful success at all, and I thoroughly… I lived there 3-1/2 years, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did. (interruption) What? (interruption) Safe talk? Safe talk? “What was safe talk?” Well, it was my way of illustrating absurdity by being absurd. That occurred back in 1984, ’85, and back then safe sex was all the rage for a number of reasons, not spreading STDs and not getting pregnant and therefore not needing abortions.
Abstinence, which works every time it’s tried, was being laughed at and pooh-poohed as unrealistic. You can’t say, “Just don’t do it.” That’s not… Do something. So safe sex came up and it basically meant use a condom. So I thought that I would demonstrate the folly of this belief by demonstrating safe talk. And what I did was, over a series of days — I didn’t just do it once. First I grabbed a condom and I stretched it tight and I placed it on the microphone.
We had photos of this being taken to prove it. This is before there were Dittocams or any of that. But the sound effect of the condom being placed on the microphone was unmistakable. And then after the condom was in place to demonstrate safe talk, I’d ask people, “Do you think now if I say anything that offends you, that this condom will protect you? If I utter profanity, if I start engaging in activity that you don’t want to hear, will this condom protect you?”
I said, “Of course it will because I’m engaging in safe talk just like they are encouraging us to do safe sex,” and that’s what he was talking about. Of course there were additions and additional aspects to it as it happened. It wasn’t just a one-time bit. It had a point to make, so it was ongoing. And then that was followed by shortly after moving to New York the famous caller abortions, which is its own story. I doubt I could get away with that even today. I barely got away with that back in 1988.
TODD: Those who joined Rush early in Rush’s stellar career remember moments like that, and it’s one of the things that drew people to him. Then they got the depth sizzled in the steak.