After battling cancer for more than a year, the news came Wednesday that radio icon Rush Limbaugh had passed at the age of 70.
His passing will no doubt be a big loss for thousands of listeners locally, as well as around the nation.
“We started carrying Rush’s program back in 1990,” said Kerry Jackson of Guntersville radio WTWX/WGSV. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I had gone to Dawson, Alabama, and I was driving back to Guntersville, dialing around on the radio, and I came across this station playing Rush. I could not believe it. I had never heard anyone like this on the radio. I made it my purpose to put his program on our radio station.”
Kerry first played Rush’s program on WGSV, Guntersville’s AM radio station. A couple years later, the program went to WTWX, the FM station, and played simultaneously on both stations.
“It was so powerful, for both stations,” Kerry said. “It was 3 hours of talk radio, in the middle of the day. Talk shows before that had been at night and they certainly weren’t national political programs.”
He said even CNN’s talk show with Larry King was a general topic program rather than a political program.
“It was revolutionary,” Kerry said. “It came at a time when AM radio was losing ground to FM radio. AM was falling by the wayside. AM stations put Rush on and he is credited with saving AM radio.”
In Guntersville, Rush mania might have hit a peak in the early 1990s.
A reader recalled that there was a restaurant with a “Rush room” where you could eat your lunch and listen to Rush.
“There was,” Kerry said. “I’d almost forgotten about that. I believe it was Mr. C’s.”
Mr. C’s was a popular downtown café with a great breakfast and a mean hamburger. It was run by the late Bentley Clark, who also served on the City Council.
“It sounds like something Bentley would have done,” Kerry said.
What happens now, with the program and more?
“Rush is irreplaceable,” Kerry said. “No one else has his magic. We haven’t heard anything about the plan going forward. But there can never be another Rush Limbaugh. All these years have gone by in what seems like the blink of an eye.
“It was a joy every day,” Kerry continued. “He had a message. It was entertaining. It was comedy. And he was so gracious.”
The program is continuing for the time being with guest hosts.