Paul Batura: Rush Limbaugh changed conservative radio – and me

Pence: Limbaugh inspired me to go into radio, was ‘anchor’ for conservatives

Former Vice President Mike Pence talks about Rush Limbaugh’s friendship and how he influenced Pence’s decision to go into talk radio.

My good friend Rush Limbaugh died today, slipping gently away on a warm, overcast February Florida morning. He was 70. 

To be clear, I met the legendary and revolutionary conservative talk show host in person just one time. But like millions of his listeners, we’ve spent the last 33 years together, hours upon hours, Monday through Friday, through good and bad times. 

Wednesday’s death of the Hall of Fame broadcasting icon marks the end of a remarkable chapter in conservative talk radio. There were others before him and there will be many to follow – but there was only one Rush Limbaugh. 


I was in high school when I first heard him, broadcasting on WABC Radio in New York City. His distinctions were many – he was brash, boisterous, unapologetically conservative – and wickedly funny.  

Detractors liked to qualify what Rush Limbaugh delivered each day as “entertainment” as if the substance was all “show” and not sincere – but they were wrong. 

One of the many reasons Rush skyrocketed in the ratings and into radio royalty was because he wasn’t afraid to tell you what he believed – and why you should believe it, too. He had a way of putting into words what many of us were thinking or trying to articulate.  

I met Rush Limbaugh in January of 1994, just a few weeks after graduating from college. It was a brief exchange, a conversation on a cold January day in the shadow of the EIB Building in Midtown Manhattan.   

I was trying to decide what to do with my life. Hustling from his radio program to a waiting car to take him to his television studio, Rush stopped, listened and actually gave me advice that wound up changing my life. 

“It’s not complicated,” he said. “If you want to be happy in life, you need to figure out what you want – and then go for it. Don’t settle for second best.  

Each of us is uniquely gifted individuals, here for a season – all serving at God’s pleasure and timing. 

Based on Rush’s advice, I turned down a job offer from Penguin Publishing and soon joined Newsday, a newspaper on Long Island. I’ve concluded that where I am today professionally is thanks to that single decision. 

For the past year, the 70-year-old Missouri native had told his audience that he was a man at peace – eager to live, but confident about where he was going when he eventually died. 

“I try to remain as committed to the idea what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to,” he said just prior to this past Christmas. “I mentioned at the outset of this – the first day I told you – that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is of immense value, strength, confidence.” 

He continued, “And that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to. There’s some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands.” 


Letting go isn’t easy for anyone, especially someone like Rush whose sheer grit and hard work helped him overcome years of personal and professional challenges. But when faced with his own mortality, he relinquished his grip and looked forward to eternity. 

Lunchtime workouts and errands in the car won’t be the same without my reliable radio companion. But in thinking of Rush’s promotion to Glory, I’m reminded of an old German poem, titled “Leuchtende Tage” – which translates into “Bright Days” or “Radiant Days.”  

“Do not cry because they are past!” the poet Ludwig Jacobowski wrote. “Smile, because they once were!”  


Rush Limbaugh used to somewhat jokingly refer to himself as, “Talent on loan from God” – a line that infuriated some, but a phrase that was theologically accurate. Each of us is uniquely gifted individuals, here for a season – all serving at God’s pleasure and timing. 

But all loans eventually come due – and Rush Limbaugh’s death is our loss, but Heaven’s gain. 


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