Significance to the Media Industry:
Limbaugh came onto the national political scene at an opportune time. In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the Fairness Doctrine. That meant broadcast stations that aired politically-opinionated programming would no longer be forced into presenting opposing viewpoints.
Radio stations that might have normally shied away from a show with such political outspokeness wouldn't have to worry about satisfying the federal government by finding a program with an equally fiery liberal host. Limbaugh's loyal fans probably don't realize the significance of purging that law, which had been in place since 1949, but it was one of 12 events that changed how media outlets cover news and how someone like Limbaugh could burst onto the national scene so quickly.
When Limbaugh's show went national in 1988, it gave a dramatic boost to AM radio stations. Those stations had been losing audience share to FM stations, but by switching from music to talk formats, they reversed years of decline.
Rush Limbaugh's Early Career:
Later he worked at stations in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area before moving to Kansas City. For a brief period, he worked outside of radio in the offices of the Kansas City Royals major league baseball team.
Limbaugh returned to radio in 1984 in Sacramento, California, as the host of a talk radio show. He replaced Morton Downey Jr., who later went on to host The Morton Downey Jr. Show.
It was Limbaugh's show in Sacramento that set the stage for his rise to national stardom. An ABC radio executive brought Limbaugh to New York City to begin his syndicated radio program.
Limbaugh won a Marconi Radio Award as syndicated radio personality of the year in 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2005. That award is presented by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), a highly-respected trade group. He was inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.
Limbaugh has many other awards, plus the ultimate reward for his radio career, a huge paycheck. In an interview with the New York Times, Limbaugh said his contract would pay him an estimated $38 million a year, plus a signing bonus.
In 2001, Limbaugh announced that he had lost nearly all of his hearing. Some of his hearing was later restored through an implant.
Limbaugh announced on his radio show in 2003 that he had become addicted to painkillers and would undergo treatment. Several years later, he turned himself in on a warrant accusing him of "doctor shopping" in order to get prescription drugs.
Limbaugh lives in Palm Beach, Florida, with his fourth wife. He has no children.