When Did I First Know This Was More Than Just a Show?

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RUSH: Rush and the EIB Network, starting our 33rd year. You realize, our 33rd year, and 30 of those years have been spent as the most listened to radio talk show in the country.

Can you stop and think as I brag here for just a second, ’cause Babe Ruth said it, it ain’t bragging if you can do it. It might have been Mark Twain who said it. It might have been Winston Churchill. Hell, it might have been I. (interruption) It was Babe Ruth? All right. It ain’t bragging if you can do it. Do you know of any product or service that’s been number one for 30 years?

Don’t say iPhone. It’s only been around since 2007. Don’t say Coca-Cola ’cause they’ve been up and down. Sometimes Pepsi has edged ’em out, sometimes it hasn’t. Although Coca-Cola, I think maybe it has been. I don’t think it’s ever been eclipsed as the number one selling cola. They might have screwed themselves when they went Coke Classic back in the eighties listening to Larry King tell ’em how to run the company.

At any rate, it’s exciting. And I thank you. We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts here. You all are the ones who have made it possible.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let me grab a phone call. We start quickly. John, Columbia, South Carolina, welcome to the program, sir. Great to have you with us. Hi.

CALLER: Rush, thank you so much. Thanks for taking my call. Happy anniversary, and best wishes. I have one question I’ve always wanted to ask. When did you realize that the Rush Limbaugh Show was more than just another successful endeavor, that is, this thing is really a rocket ship? ‘Cause I know when it was for me, as a charter listener.

RUSH: Now, wait. I’m gonna make sure I understand the question. What do you mean by more than just an ordinary success story? I assume you mean more than just an ordinary successful radio show?

CALLER: Yes, sir.

RUSH: With it escaped the bonds of being a radio show, became that plus other things?

CALLER: Yes, sir. Just the phenomenon that it’s become. When did you say, hey, this is maybe a phenomenon, maybe it’s more than just —

RUSH: Aw, gee, I don’t know that I ever had time to think about that. I was too busy trying to do it every day. I’m not copping out. I mean, once a program was over, the only thing I thought about it was the things I thought needed improvement or the things that I wished hadn’t happened that I needed to fix the next day. I never sat around and said, “Man, this thing’s getting big. Man, this thing is huge. Man, I’m really important.” I never sat around and did that.

So I’d have to really think. I know what you’re asking, nevertheless. There was a time where I actually think the honest answer to your question is in Sacramento. ‘Cause this show started in Sacramento and I had never been on a success track my whole career before moving to Sacramento in 1984. I’d always been moderately successful or the guy that might be, could be, but I never stood out ’cause I’d never been permitted to do a radio show the way I really wanted to do it. I had to conform to the programming format and all that, which everybody at any station had to do.

But when I started to draw crowds… I would announce that I was gonna be someplace some night and thousands of people would show up, this has never happened before. And when I would talk to these people, they were showing up not just because the program entertained them, they were showing up because they were so ecstatic there was somebody finally on the radio that sounded like they thought.

So I think the realization that the radio program was gonna be more than a radio program actually began to creep in in Sacramento. It had an effect, it had an impact on the way I did the program ’cause back in those days I was doing so much parody, so much satire. And all I wanted back then was to be thought of as, you know, really funny, really great, really thought provoking radio program, not just a political program, but a great, great, great entertainment media program.

And I found that as the program evolved and it went national, that there was less time for that because people were taking so much of it so seriously that I had to make sure that I didn’t appear to be not taking that aspect of it seriously. I still did satire and parody, but I had to make sure that it was obvious. I couldn’t do as many think pieces as I wanted to ’cause I couldn’t — well, I’ll give an example. You still there?

CALLER: Yes, sir.

RUSH: I’ll give an example. Shortly after moving to New York — you know, my whole life in Sacramento I’d been treated to liberal phone callers claiming that, because I had not served in the military, I had no right to talk about defense, I had no right to talk about the defense budget, I had no right to talk about this or that, I wasn’t qualified. I got so fed up with that, I got so sick of hearing it. One day in the early days of the national program I got such a phone call.

So I thought, okay, I’ve dealt with this every serious way I know how. I’m gonna do a little satire here, and I thought it would be obvious satire. I thought this would be perceived by people as one of the greatest ways of shutting down this absurd allegation. So I thanked the guy. I said, “You know what? I really need to thank you, sir, because you may have a point.”

And I told the story about how — you know what? If I tell the story now, people will believe it. (laughing) I’m kind of stuck here. If I repeat this story, I guarantee you people like Media Matters will take the element out of it and say I said it as though I admitted to something today that I have never admitted before. They will not report that I was explaining and answering a question to you.

This is how precarious this stuff has become. This is the kind of stuff that I have to look out for, and not just me. But the answer to your question — and I’m sorry for hyping this and getting you all interested and I back out of it.

CALLER: It’s all right. (laughing)

RUSH: But it was pretty early on that I realized that, if I understand you right, the program meant a lot to a lot of people, and I had to take that respectfully and very seriously. And it was a great thing that it happened, by the way. I’m not complaining about it. And it’s still front and center my mind today.

CALLER: If I could have one more minute, I appreciate the time.

RUSH: Yeah. Yeah.

CALLER: For me, I was an everyday listener, but I worked and so I had to go down to the truck and flip the tape. And anyway, the bake sale, when a lady called in and said, “I can make T-shirts.” Another guy called in and said, “I own billboards on that interstate. I’ll donate ’em.” Another guy calls in and says, “I got a small trucking company. I’ll pick up T-shirts and deliver ’em to the destination.” I thought, “Wow.”

RUSH: Well, that’s undeniable, Dan’s bake sale. I remember that as you’re talking. We had the people that ran Brennan’s, say, “We’re gonna bring a portable kitchen and we’re gonna start making some signature Brennan’s dishes.” Then I had a guy call, “I’ll put the billboards up on the interstates on the way to tell people how to get -” there must have been 20 different calls like that, people donating ’cause everybody wanted to be part of it. Then the day came and there’s almost 90,000 people there.

CALLER: Well, I appreciate the time here, Rush. It’s a thrill to talk to you.

RUSH: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. I appreciate the question. Look, folks, I’m sorry for getting you all hepped up for some super-duper story, but I guarantee you if I tell this story they’re gonna clip the beginning and the end of it and they’re just gonna report that I’ve made a major admission today for the first time in 33 years and it will start a brand-new controversy. It will all be made up and lies. You know, people have said over the years, “Why don’t you do the updates?”

Because, folks, the satire and parody, look what’s happening on college campuses. Comedians are afraid to go to college campuses today. Nobody on the left in the woke community has a sense of humor today. It’s one of the most frustrating aspects.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Evergreen, Colorado, this is Amelia. It’s great to have you here. Hello.

CALLER: Rush, I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to wait or not. And I just kept thinking of things I wanted to say. First of all, you are still saying all the things that we’re thinking. I’m 85 years old. I’m trying to keep a low profile because if I bring politics up, I’ve got Democrats all around me. Anyway, first of all, you are keeping everybody enthused, and we love you. Second of all, I love baseball. Third, I think your brother’s books are absolutely wonderful.

RUSH: How much did he pay you to call here, Amelia?

CALLER: (laughing) I wish I could get a hold of him to say thanks.

RUSH: He’s on Twitter. I mean, you could find him. Look, I appreciate your comments. She’s commenting on the guy, the first caller of the day today who wanted to know when did I know this program’s more than a program. And I said when I found out that people were not just reacting to it as a great entertainment show, but when they told me it was great to finally hear somebody in media saying what they all thought, I said, oh, okay, that’s when I knew.

And then when the program went national, that was a — that — you know, that’s something, the Democrats have not taken the time to understand why Trump won and they have not tried to understand the bond that Trump voters have with him. Same thing here. They assume that you people are idiots, that you’re mind-numbed robots and I’m some Svengali and you’re so stupid you’re waiting for marching orders from me every day.

After 32 years, this is what they think. They have no idea, no idea that for most of you, it’s the fact that when this program started in 1988 there was nobody else in national media saying the things that the people in the audience believed. And so their ignorance has allowed me to continue to fly under the radar where that is concerned.

The story that I can tell you very quickly that made me realize that I had to be really careful with satire and parody, do you all remember the Slim Whitman satanic message bit? I think I did it once. It’s something I did in Sacramento, and I might have reenacted it here. But I read a story one day that some minister in Ohio had discovered that there was a satanic message in the theme song to the Mister Ed TV show if you played it backwards.

So I said to myself, okay, how can I make this funny rather than just sit here and tell people what this Ohio minister claims he found? I mean, where does an Ohio minister find a way to play the Mister Ed theme backwards? Why would an Ohio minister even do that?

So at the time there was a march from California to Washington, the great global peace march. People were marching from California to Washington to get to the steps of the defense department, the Pentagon, and die, to replicate what would happen at the very moment a nuclear detonation happened.

And I found a song by Slim Whitman as the update theme, Una Paloma Blanca, which was translated as One White Dove or A White Dove. So I decided to find a satanic message in Una Paloma Blanca. I’m sure many of you are familiar with this. So I went into the production studio and we found a way to play it backwards and I got a guy to record a message through a harmonizer which changes the tone of your voice.

And the bit was that the devil was actually speaking to people through the Slim Whitman Una Paloma Blanca song, and I went through, you know, two hours of setting this up on the air and explaining it. And when it’s over, I’m thinking, man, people will think this is the greatest thing, Johnny Carson will love it.

Okay, let me take a break while I think about it. I got take a break anyway. Back here in just a second.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Anyway, Slim Whitman, we’ve got it. I could play it, what we did. We put the satanic message in Una Paloma Blanca played backwards. And I’m thinking when it’s over that people out there listening, “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. This is guy is really good. We are fortunate to have this guy in our town on the radio. This is the kind of stuff you have to tune to The Tonight Show or something like that to hear. This guy is awesome.”

And I’m proud as I could be and I can’t wait for the reaction and the feedback. And during a commercial break the general manager of the radio station came in and said, “How long are you gonna go with this?”

I said, “I don’t know, but I think the way this is tracking right now, I could probably get three more days out of this.”

He said, “No. You have to wrap it up.”

I said, “Why?”

He said, “Because people are calling their churches and reporting that there is a satanic message in what you’re doing on the radio. And you admitted that you didn’t know it so people are thinking if you can be fooled, anybody can, and people are wanting to know what they should do.”

I said, “Wait. You mean people are calling their ministers believing this?”

“Yes.”

I said, among many other things to him, I said, “Okay. This changes a lot about the philosophy going forward.”

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I’m gonna play it. I have decided that I can risk this, since I have set it up hear properly. But I have to tell you just a brief prelude. I’m gonna play the Slim Whitman satanic message in Una Paloma Blanca. You have to remember, you have to know, a lot of you may not have heard this. I mean, the audience here is expanding in geometric proportions. There are people listening who have not heard this. So I ask the indulgence of those of you who have.

It took me easily 45 minutes to set this up. I milked it for everything. I opened the program that day in Sacramento by telling the audience that I was shaken by something that I had learned overnight. After reading the story of the Ohio minister who discovered a satanic message in the Mister Ed theme when played backwards, I began to be concerned. I said, if it can happen to a minister, what about me?

And so I began playing the various musical elements of my program backwards. I went to the production room, KFBK Sacramento, not expecting to find anything, but I had to do this. I had to find out if my program had been co-opted by Satan. And I’m telling people that it had been and that I was really on the verge of resigning because of what I had happen to me.

I said if my program can be as easily infiltrated by Satan as it has been, that I don’t know that I should continue to be your host. I mean, folks, I milked it. I thought it was over the top. I thought I was making it obvious here, that the majority of people would be laughing themselves silly while maybe 1% — So I was doing it on the basis that it was just a great bit. And I continued to act shaken and disturbed. And then I refused to give them the example.

So that started a bunch of phone calls, “You have to, you have to play it!”

I said, “No, you don’t want to hear this.” Of course, that’s just reeling them in. I said, “I can’t. No, no, no. You don’t understand. You’ve already been subjected to it. I’ve been using this song for months here in the great peace march update, the global peace march update. You guys have already been exposed to it. I can’t knowingly do this. That would compound it.”

“You have to, you have to. You can’t do this. You can’t tell us that it’s there and then not play it. You’ve got to.”

I said, “I don’t think most of you are emotionally equipped to deal with this. You think you are. But I don’t think so.” Well, of course, that just made people want to hear it all the more. Remember, this is for 45 minutes. And then the denial of service, the refusing to air it. So as part of the bit, quote, unquote, management walked into the studio and told me that because of the reaction, I had to play it. My job was on the line. I had to play this.

So I said, “Folks, if it were up to me, I would not, but now you’ve heard, I have been forced, I have been required. It’s been required of me to do this.” So 45 minutes and people are — I don’t know what they’re expecting, but I have an idea. So now it’s time to do this under protest, under duress, apologizing in advance, telling people you may not want to listen to this if you have any doubts whatsoever about your spiritual strength. If you have any doubt, do not listen to this. Of course, that just expands the universe. So here it was.

(playing of song)

RUSH: And there you have it. So what could be more obvious? So the phone lines are blinking like crazy and I’m thinking, “Ah, this is where people are gonna recognize how funny it was, how great it was.” Then when people started calling their ministers and saying there was a satanic message being played on KFBK and it needs to stop, I said, “Oh, no.” The point is that’s when I realized that there’s a certain percentage of the audience that’s gonna believe.

See, if I hadn’t been a political guy it wouldn’t have mattered. But I was very, very serious about my ideologue and political beliefs, did not want anybody thinking those were a joke. I did not want anybody thinking they were insincere. I didn’t want anybody thinking that any part of the core of my beliefs were a joke like that was.

So it became a real delicate balance. And when this guy called and said, “When did you realize that this was more than a show?” It was things like this that made me realize I had to look at this program and the way it was impacting people in ways I hadn’t considered. So that is finally the conclusion of the answer to the call.

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