BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The talk-radio world lost one of its icons on Wednesday. Rush Limbaugh, one of the pioneers of conservative media died after a battle with lung cancer. 23ABC's Bayan Wang looks back on his legacy.
There's no question that Rush Limbaugh was one of the big powerhouses in talk radio and his influence paved the way for conservative media in the United States.
His legacy spans the decades. He paved the way for the prominence of right-wing media. Hosting "The Rush Limbaugh Show" for more than 30 years over 13 million people tuned in each week by 2006.
"When you look at all of these really big conservative names today - you talk about Mark Levin, you talk about Sean Hannity, you talk about Laura Ingram - every single one of them would literally say that without the ground that was really plowed by Rush Limbaugh in the 80s and 90s, their careers would not exist. Conservative media would not exist," said 23ABC political contributor Jeremy Adams.
His influence also impacted local radio hosts like Ralph Bailey.
"He generated my career. I started as a solo talk show host. About 16 years ago and 4 months in we acquire Limbaugh and it absolutely flipped the script. That's what he does. Wherever he went, he became the market," explained Bailey.
Local radio host Richard Beene also weighed in on Limbaugh's legacy: "Rush Limbaugh set a really high bar for anybody particularly in radio and political radio and news talk radio. This guy I believe almost single-handedly brought back the AM dial."
Amid his stardom, the polarizing figure has had his share of backlash throughout his career including comments he made on ESPN regarding NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb in 2003.
"The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," said Limbaugh at the time.
ESPN let Limbaugh go after that. But more adversity was on the horizon.
A judge sentenced Limbaugh to rehab after he got in trouble with the law.
"I am addicted to prescription pain medication," said Limbaugh at the time.
Shortly after Limbaugh announced his advanced lung cancer diagnosis in 2020 former President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"Love him or hate him, you can't doubt his influence in the conservative movement in American history," added Adams.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy issued the following tweet after Limbaugh's death:
Saddened to hear the news that Rush has passed away. For 30+ years, no one did it better. Truly the king of talk radio. My prayers are with his family. #ElRushbo 🇺🇸— Kevin McCarthy (@kevinomccarthy) February 17, 2021