Feb 17, 2021
America’s Anchorman for 32 Years … … My Good Friend for 40 Years
In 1981, we would meet at an IHOP midway between my apartment and his house in Kansas City. Over a bottomless coffee pot Rush and I would wonder Why the World did not recognize our quite obvious collective geniuses.
We first met in 1980 when Rush was with the KC Royals. He made a sales call on me at The Crown Center Hotel. We just hit it off … and became as good a friends as a coupla guys in their early 30s could be.
I was single and Rush soon would be. With due respect to Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd, we were NOT exactly two wild and crazy guys.
Unless you count sitting in his basement “man cave” watching Professional Wrestling and doing our impressions of Dusty Rhodes, Dory Funk, Ric Flair, et al. I can say it now … MY impression of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes was much better than Rush’s.
NOTE: A lot of Rush’s “bombast schtick” on EIB came from those pro wrestling shows.
In late 1983 – Rush decided to leave the Royals and his $15,000/year “dream job”… I had to convince his dad “Big Rush” that it was the right thing for him to do. Now you’re thinking BobLee was responsible for Rush Limbaugh giving “radio” one more shot. Not exactly
I thought he oughta take a Marketing Director gig with a local potato chip company. He opted for one last go at radio…
with a small AM station in Mission KS. … That led him to Sacramento … which led to Ed McLaughlin “discovering” him and to WABC in NYC … and THEN … Well, you know about The THEN
He called me in 1988 when he was considering the offer to go to New York. He was MR RADIO in Sacramento and, of course, in nearby Rio Linda … making a whopping $50K. He “owned the town”.
Having learned my lesson earlier with the potato chip thing, my advice was
“Ya Gotta Go … There will always be Sacramentos but there’s only one New York. Kick butt and take names, Big Guy! You Can Do it!”
I was getting better at the career advice game.
Whoa. Lets back up a few months in ’83 … Rush married Wife #2 in the VIP Room at Royals Stadium. There he introduced his buddy BobLee to his “growing up in Cape Girardeau” friend … a dead ringer Cybil Shepherd lookalike …
A year later – 1984 – Rush Limbaugh was Best Man at the Wedding of BobLee & Blondie.
37 years and counting. Yeah, I guess you could say Rush and I were pretty good friends.
Way too many stories over the past 40 years to recount. Blondie and I were living outside Boston in 1988 when RL arrived in NYC. He invited me down to see the set-up. For the Big Timers at WABC “some guy named Limbo” was no big deal.
A temp in the WABC mailroom was assigned to assist “the new guy” IF he developed any fans. That “temp” was HR “Kit” Carson … Rush’s right-hand man for 25+ years until his passing away 6-7 years ago.
Rush had always had “a Snerdley” taking callers. His Sacramento “Snerdley” had a New York cuzzin “Bo” … his driver’s license says James Golden.
“Bo Snerdley” along with Johnny Donovan, Cookie Gleason, Paul Shanklin … and a mysterious “North Carolina Mistress” would be the core EIB Team for 32 incredible years.
It was 1993 -94. EIB had over 600 affiliates and an unbelievable daily audience of over 20,000,000. RL was on the cover of Time and every TV talk show wanted him as a guest. The News Media fops and fools hated him for his success.
His contracts were always tied to the insane $$$ revenues he generated for his sponsors with those “obscene profit breaks”. Ergo he was making Rock Star money which really pissed off those fops and fools.
When Rush’s brother David called us this morning a little after 10 AM to tell us that Rush had passed away… and Kathryn would be announcing it on-air at noon … I recalled my comment to Rush almost 30 years ago.
“Rush, you do know … when you hang up The Golden Microphone in 30+ years after sustained success never matched in media history … those jealous assholes are gonna say “we told you he would never last”.”
I told that story at the EIB 20th Anniversary Party at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Megyn Kelly and Martha MacCallum agreed with me.
BobLee, what about “that mysterious North Carolina mistress” ??? I’ll get to that in a minute.
Before Rush left NYC for The EIB Southern Command Center in Sunny South Florida … he was becoming quite a celebrity around The Big Apple. He calls me…
You’ll never guess what happened. I was having dinner at Patsy’s … the waiter comes over that a fan wanted my autograph. I was glad to oblige and asked him to point out the fan. It was JOEY HEATHERTON! OMG.”
Literally two weeks later, another call … “So I went to Radio City Music Hall for Ann-Margret’s Show. An usher comes up to me at the end of the show … Ann-Margret would like to invite you backstage. She’s a huge fan… ANN-MARGRET!”
For a Baby Boomer guy it doesn’t get any more OMG than Joey Heatherton and Ann-Margaret! I tell Rush … Bud, I’ve never envied your big $$$ and your celebrity … but I am having trouble with Joey Heatherton and Ann-Margret WANTING TO MEET YOU! He said: “Yeah, me too. Can you believe it?
OK … “The North Carolina Mistress”. Raise your hand if you’ve heard the term “Drive-By Media”. Every hand is up. Who came up with the term AND Where did it came from. The “Where” is about 12-15′ from where I’m sitting. The “Who” is that Cybil Shepherd lookalike – Blondie!
For going on 20 years, Blondie has been responsible for Rush’s Stack of Stuff. Rush has always been The Incredible Genius that makes Noon-3 / Mon-Fri for 32 years The Most Listened-To Radio Show in History … but even Genius’ need back-up. Gladys Knight had her Pips … Rush had Blondie.
I have contributed a few zingers over the years, but it was Blondie that did it day after day after day … year after year.
When RL arrived at EIB HQ each morning promptly at 9:00 he knew there would be “a Stack of Stuff” waiting for him. And there always was … from a humble cottage on a quiet cul-de-sac in NorthWest Raleigh ...
Rush would peruse Blondie’s stack … apply his magic touch … “Bo” would cue up the most familiar bumper music in radio history … and SHOWTIME!
If there was a POTUS press conference or other BREAKING NEWS during the show … Blondie would be feeding Rush the key points. The trust they developed was so solid he would often simply read her comments off his monitor.
When Al Franken and AirAmerica flamed out years ago … Franken’s excuse was “we can’t afford the 100+ staff that Limbaugh has to put together his material.” …
I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked that staff of 100+ “what’s for dinner?” … or “is this a one can or two can garbage pick-up week?”
Big Time Radio isn’t quite as glamorous as you might think … BUT
It NEVER got old when El Rushbo used a line verbatim from that humble cottage on that quiet cul-de-sac …. This past year has been TOUGH!
As Rush’s Incredible Fans know … there have been Many Ups and also a few pretty Rough Downs over 32 years.
To Quote Lonesome Dove’s Gus McRae … “It’s been a Helluva Party”.
Blondie and I have been there through them all …
’cause Thats What Friends Are For.
America’s AnchorMan for 32 years
… My dear friend for 40 years.