For several years when I lived in Kansas City, Rush Limbaugh had an afternoon drive radio show on KMBZ radio. He was bombastic, made fun of local politicians and in particular one local community.
Much like today, Rush didn’t make fun of the rich people living on Ward Parkway or in Mission Hills. No, for some reason he made fun of the community of Raytown on the south side of Kansas City. Raytown was a mostly working class white city.
Contrary to the official Limbaugh bio that he was heard by a radio executive driving through town and hired away to work at a station in California, I understand he was fired for a combination of low ratings and insulting comments, and later hired by the station in Sacramento. Of course the rest is history.
When I moved to Washington D.C. in 1990, Rush was heard on the radio nationwide. I used to listen. I didn’t agree with half of what he said, but he was funny. During the Gulf War he had hilarious skits with actors playing the parts of politicians, generals, sheiks and war correspondences.
But after the war I quit listening. To me Rush had turned into a gas bag. I didn’t want to spend my time listening to someone yell at me and insult people with different views. Dennis Miller on the right and Al Franken on the left could used humor to make a point—although sometimes sophomoric. Rush shouts. Millions of Americans sure enjoy listening to Rush, I just no longer am one of them.
But I did have to laugh about the irony of Rush about to be inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians at the state capita, just about at the same time he's calling a Georgetown University female law student a prostitute and whore for speaking before a group of Democratic senators about contraception and health care coverage.
I looked at the roll from the Hall of Famous Missourians and for the life of my I cannot figure out how Rush belongs there.
Here are a few people from that list:
- Mark Twain
- Susan Blow
- Saint Rose Phillippine Duchesne
- Walt Disney
- General Omar Bradley
- General John Pershing
- Scott Joplin
- Charlie Parker
- J.C Penny
- Marlin Perkins
- Harry Truman
- Emmet Kelly
- Thomas Hart Benton
I do have a problem with a few who are enshrined there, including Bob Barker, Warren Hearnes and John Ashcroft. I am not sure how a game-show host, and Democratic and Republican governors made our lives richer and better. But here is one thing I’m pretty sure about. Rush Limbaugh has not done much to make our lives richer and better.
I recently had another problem with a more local Walk or Hall of Fame. My high school in Webster Groves started a Walk of Fame 10 or 20 years ago. I looked at the honorees and had some fond memories, but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if some of the most important people were missing from the list.
Skip Carey, class of 1957 is on the list. Skip, the son of famed radio announcer Harry Carey, was probably my favorite sportscaster, even if he was the voice of the Atlanta Braves and Hawks. It was fun to listen to him call a game.
Bob Dotson, class of 1964 was a NBC News correspondent. Russ Mitchell, class of 1978, was a CBS News and morning show anchor.
But there is one person on the Webster Walk of Fame that I remember more as a fourth grader than as a celebrated author. Let me briefly explain.
In 1970, I worked nights and weekends as a disc jockey at two radio stations in St. Louis, and weekdays as a camp counselor for a grade school day camp. In the afternoon I would arrange field trips; write the weekly newsletter to the parents and do other administrative work, but in the morning I was with the kids, mostly third, fourth and fifth graders.
You would think a summer of working at radio stations would have created unforgettable memories. But the biggest memory I have from that summer is one particular day camper. In fact, he's the only kid I remember from the entire camp job.
He is Jonathan Franzen, who in 2010 was on the cover of Time Magazine as the Great American Novelist. At the start of each day during summer camp the counselors would sit together in the gym as the kids began to show up. Now Jonathan would come in and start peppering us with questions. They weren’t the usual questions you might expect from a 10- or 11-year-old.
Jonathan would ask us if we thought Melvin Laird was doing as good a job as Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense, or if Secretary of State Henry Kissinger could get Vietnam peace talks on track.
Jonathan asked us—high school juniors and seniors—so many political questions (many of which we had no clue what he was talking about) that we instituted the “Three Question” rule for Jonathan. He could only ask three questions a day about world news or national politics.
Jonathan later became widely known for questioning publically whether having his book Corrections selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book-of-the-month, was a good thing.
When I think of the Walk of Fame I wonder why it started. I wonder because a friend of mine from high school was not on it. Judy Dickens got her nursing degree from St. Louis University and later added graduate degrees.
Dickens was on one of the first heart transplant teams in the Midwest. She would fly in a helicopter and pick up a harvested heart and return it to the surgical suite, and/or prep patients for surgery. She saved lives and contributed to advancements in medicine.
The older brother of someone I went to high school with was a Navy medic. He died in Vietnam after he stepped on a landmine trying to get to wounded Marines. He is not on the Walk of Fame, but surely belongs there ahead of many who are there.
It seems that the people, including cops and firefighters, who saved lives and the people who educate our children are often bypassed by these Halls of Fame in favor of politicians, people on TV and other media celebrities. I don’t know if that is a good thing?
I do know that Rush Limbaugh does not belong with a group that includes military leaders who helped win World War I and World War II, Mark Twain and a saint of the Catholic Church.