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So Are We Proud of Limbaugh In Missouri?

Think twice about Halls of Fame.

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.           

Ben Edsall March 09, 2012 at 12:02 AM
On the contrary, Rush has done much to "make our lives richer and better". He paved the way for talk radio to prosper and thrive. He single-handedly opened our eyes that we, who were besieged by the left-leaning media were not alone in our views and that we finally had someone who was vocalizing our thoughts and philosophies without fear and without being cowed by the vicious attacks of the left. I 1993 I went to see Rush at Dan's Bake Sale, I was inspired to start my own business because of the opportunities I finally recognized were there for Americans to go for. Capitalism, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit were all on display that day in Colorado. Nineteen years later my company has employed many, given much back to the community and provided services for thousands. Raytown, when Rush was here was largely a town of dilapidated run down homes with cars on blocks in the yard. Raytown was the butt of many comedians jokes including Carol Burnett who's show Mama's Family was set in "Raytown". In the late nineties Raytown finally started enforcing codes and cleaning up the town; and is still fighting the stigma from days gone by. Two facts.... Rush is from Missouri and Rush is Famous! That pretty much settles his qualifications for the nomination! I'm curious does it disturb you that communist- Josephine Baker, who renounced her United States Citizenship is included in that hall?
RegalT62 March 09, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Rush is much more infamous than famous. He was only relevant, until last week, to a very small part of the population. However, his misogynist and vicious attack on a woman speaking her mind about access to contraception and his continued insults of "over-educated" women cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. I am an educated woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter and a lifetime Missourian. Rush Limbaugh in no way represents my values or the values of the other men and women in my life, regardless of their political affiliation. He deserves no honor for slandering Sandra Fluke and all women who make private decisions about their reproduction health.
Tom Clark March 09, 2012 at 01:56 AM
John, you have to look at it from the History of Radio perspective. Regardless of politics. If you Goggle "AM Radio" in the future, you are going to see Marconi, Arthur Godfrey, and Rush.
John Hoffmann March 09, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Tom, first of all I would have no problem if someone wanted to put Rush Limbaugh into a Radio Hall of Fame...but we are taking putting him into the Missourians of Fame along with Omar Bradley, Mark Twain and Sainte Duchesne. As to the AM Radio Hall of Fame I think you are a little off with your order. Try this one... Marconi, Jack Benny, Freeman Gosden & Charles Correll (highest national radio ratings ever even though they were pc-incorrect), Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Fred Allen, Ted Mack, Edward R. Murrow, Charles Collingswood, Lowell Thomas, Arthur Godfrey, Alan Freed, Minnie Pearl, Paul Harvey, Don Imus, Jean Shepherd, Jack Carney & J.P. McCarthy (Carney-St. Louis & McCarthy-Detriot, had the largest ratings of a "major market" with 40 shares, meaning 4 of 10 people were listening to them), Bill Stern, Lindsey Nelson, Red Barber, Harry Carey, Bill Drake, Wolfman Jack...and about 20 more places down the list would be Rush and Howard Stern. Rush is not even listed on the St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame... http://www.stlradio.com/halloffame.htm
Dennis Broadbooks March 09, 2012 at 12:39 PM
@John Hoffman: "Rush is not even listed on the St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame..." Not yet, anyway. Sometimes being in the middle of your successful career doesn't lend itself to nominations normally reserved for the retired or dead. Rush singlehandedly resurrected AM radio from its doldrums of 20+ years ago. By the way, describing him as a "gas bag" does nothing for your credibility in this piece. It only demonstrates your political leanings & was completely unnecessary. Is an apology in the offing?
Not from here March 09, 2012 at 04:14 PM
The kind of mindset that holds someone like Rush Limbaugh "make(s) our lives richer and better" is hopelessly retrograde. It took you exactly 3 sentences to begin ranting about the "left-leaning media". You and all the other "new reds" are nothing more than apologists for the element in society that does not believe in change or inclusiveness. You abhor change, want everything the way it was when you were 7 years old and no one in your immediate circle questioned why, including why entire segments of the population that were not white, male, christian, heterosexual, etc. were affirmatively excluded from the opportunities you and yours took for granted as your American birthright, but not theirs! Anyone who promotes or defends the behavior or speech content of that greedy, egomaniacal, despicable ignoramus is a non-thinker himself, a follower in the most pejorative sense of the word - think Nazi Germany in the 1920s and German citizens who allowed themselves to be whipped into a frenzy against the perceived societal decay instigated by Jews, homosexuals, etc. that culminated in Hitler's rise. I am horrified than any thinking and/or educated person would defend or be a mouthpiece for this blowhard. Missourians should rather be ashamed he is from here. Ah, but I forgot - this is the state where some legislators propose granting "minority status" to concealed carry gun owners! Guess I better stock up on my guns and ammo, right fellow "capitalists"?
Dennis Broadbooks March 09, 2012 at 05:00 PM
@ Not From Here: It makes perfect sense you'd post something like this anonymously.
Jean Whitney March 09, 2012 at 08:56 PM
@Dennis I've heard some who like Limbaugh say he goes over the top sometimes, something along the lines of "gas bag."
Dennis Broadbooks March 10, 2012 at 12:32 AM
@Jean: So "gas bag" is a perfectly acceptable term for labeling Mr. Limbaugh on Chesterfield Patch, but we're ready to lynch Rush for using "prostitute"? Please explain that to me, Jean.
RegalT62 March 10, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I won't answer for Jean but you have to be kidding? You really can't see the difference? "Gas bag" refers to someone who speaks prolifically and with not much content. "Slut", "prostitute" and the request of a visual sex tape of a woman who simply is expressing her opinion doesn't even come close to comparison!!! Those words and that statement have been historically used to silence women by smearing their reputations. We don't even have a word in English which means the same as slut that is used for men. Although I wouldn't like being called a gas bag, I can tell you I would not tolerate anyone calling me - or any woman I know - a "slut", "prostitute" or say they wanted to watch a woman's sexual performance simply because they used birth control. Wow, would you allow anyone to call your mother, wife, sister or daughter a "slut" or "prostitute" simply because they wanted control of their reproductive health? Use "gas bag" all you would like but to cross into the use of sexually aggressive language is unacceptable - and Rush, in his gas bag way, certainly did. I can't believe any decent man or woman would defend such ignorant and insulting behavior.
Jean Whitney March 10, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Thanks for sharing that. Anyone else care to weigh in?
Jean Whitney March 10, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Please remember @Dennis, you are referring to an opinion column by Mr. Hoffmann.
Dennis Broadbooks March 10, 2012 at 03:13 AM
@ Jean Whitney: I'm very aware of the difference. My point is they're both pejorative words used to put down people...neither were necessary. Rush apologized for his use of the word in the heat of the moment.
RegalT62 March 10, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Really? The words are not equally pejorative. One refers to speech, the other to insulting and sexualizing to women. You could always try an experiment this weekend and call your mother, wife, sister or daughter "Gas bag" and "slut/prostitute" and see if the words elicit different responses. Then just offer a lame apology and expect them to forget it.
Not from here March 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Not interested in starting wars, pal, just shining a light on the unenlightened beliefs of some of my fellow over-50, straight, white, male, "christian" citizens. Sounds as though you recognized yourself in some of the comments. Your subsequent comments clearly confirm you have an equally archaic and, frankly, ignorant perspective on what constitutes acceptable behavior toward women. Amen to Tamara for elucidating that so eloquently. I taught my 19-year old daughter to be self-respecting, to never tolerate verbal abuse of that sort from anyone. Back to your cave!
Not from here March 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Right on!!

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