Memories of Rush

I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling.  One of my Facebook friends posted an urgent note to pray for Rush Limbaugh.  I replied that I pray for my friend of over 40 years each and every single day.  As I always do, I turned on the radio at 9:00 for the beginning of his multi-award-winning radio show, and to my shock, I heard (for the first time) the voice of his wife, Kathryn.  I knew instantly what she was going to say.  When she relayed the word that Rush had passed in the middle of the night, I burst out crying.

But I passionately want to share some of the things I know about Rush, and his amazing journey to the center of the radio world, where he will remain a giant in my life and the lives of millions of Americans.

I have known Rush Limbaugh since I was a teenager beginning in the radio business in my hometown of Kansas City, Mo., where he and I worked at KUDL radio, a 10,000-watt AM and FM station located at the end of a dusty gravel driveway in the middle of a cornfield.  That place was crazy weird.  The news director would bring his gun to work, shooting out tower lights when he got mad at some equipment failure (frequently), and the FM program director was shooting smack when he got mad, glad, bored, or listless (more frequently.)

But Rush Limbaugh was the perfect gentleman, very kind to me, and I never forgot that.  There was some messiness and miscommunication in the middle years.  But when he moved to Sacramento to begin his talk show at KFBK, I asked my boss at KGO in San Francisco to give him a listen.  I thought he was really so different from anything that I had ever heard on the radio that I recommended him for a job as a talk show host.  He didn't get the gig.

Clearly, my opinion didn't matter for much, but that disappointment and others did not stop Rush Limbaugh.  He used it to springboard onto the national scene.

Over the years, Rush has donated more than a million dollars to my charity organization Move America Forward, making him the largest donor in our history.  When I pitched him on the idea of doing an Internet show to raise money for care packages for our troops, he wrote me back, "I want IN." 

He appeared on our show for 17 years, always with a smile of appreciation for our work. 

When Rush started getting sicker, I wrote him more frequently about our shared memories.  He wrote back that his memory was now "gray" and he was having a hard time focusing.  But he promised me he would write back a lengthier note soon.

Sadly, that letter never arrived.  His legacy will be defined now.  Those who knew Rush and loved him must write his history, or his haters will define him.  I am determined that that should not happen.

I will never, ever forget the basic kindness and generosity of Rushton Hudson Limbaugh and all he has done for America and given humbly and without expectation.

God be with you, my friend.  You are already missed.

Melanie Morgan, former talk show host, KSFO Radio, San Francisco, Calif.

Image: Gage Skidmore.