THE voice of conservative American Rush Limbaugh passed away on February 17, after battling stage four lung cancer for over a year.
Limbaugh, 70, dominated the airwaves for over three decades with his show The Rush Limbaugh Show, which drew a weekly audience of more than 15 million listeners.
Who will be Rush Limbaugh’s replacement?
Limbaugh used his radio show to attack liberals, Democrats, feminists, environmentalists and others.
However, now that the radio giant has passed away – iHeartMedia – the Texas-based radio conglomerate run by a chief executive in New York, Bob Pittman, controls the fate of The Rush Limbaugh Show.
For now, fans will have to settle for re-runs of the "Best of Rush", using archived segments and clips, primarily airing Limbaugh’s voice.
“Please note that we will continue with this transitional programming until his audience is prepared to say goodbye,” Premiere Networks, the iHeartMedia subsidiary that employed Limbaugh, said.
The radio show will continue to air in its regular noon to 3 pm time slot Monday through Friday, "until his audience is prepared to say goodbye".
“No one can replace Rush Limbaugh,” said Hosea Belcher, senior vice president of affiliate marketing for iHeartMedia Inc.
Rush's wife Kathryn announced his death on his radio show on Wednesday, February 17.
Michael Harrison, publisher of the industry magazine Talkers, told the New York Times that many affiliates had signed contracts specific to Limbaugh’s role as host.
He specified that some stations could choose to stop airing the Limbaugh program entirely, regardless of who sits in the chair.
“It’s starting over,” Harrison told the Times, noting that conservative radio consumers can simply switch to other popular Limbaugh-like hosts, including Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin.
For now, guest hosts such as Mark Steyn, Todd Herman and Ken Matthews, who helped fill in while Limbaugh underwent cancer treatment over the past year, will help guide the show from segment to segment, the network said.
What was the cause of Limbaugh's death?
In February 2020, Limbaugh announced he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
It's widely believed that Limbaugh's lung cancer diagnosis was correlated with his history of smoking, however the radio host never confirmed those claims.
Throughout his decades-long radio host career, Limbaugh often raised eyebrows when speaking about topics like climate change and smoking.
Limbaugh said he started smoking cigarettes as a teenager, and it's uncertain if he ever quit smoking completely.
He reportedly gave up cigarettes after he went through a particularly bad battle with bronchitis in the 1980s, however he was a well-known cigar enthusiast who long defended tobacco use.
Limbaugh appeared on the cover of the magazine Cigar Aficionado in 1994, five years before he announced he had lung cancer, and often dismissed the connection between secondhand smoke and cancer.
In a 2015 episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show, the 70-year-old went as far as to say second-hand smoking can yield to health issues in the long run, before going on to state that smokers deserve more recognition.
"[Second-hand smoke] has been disproven at the World Health Organization and the report was suppressed.
"There is no fatality whatsoever. There’s no even major sickness component associated with secondhand smoke.
"It may irritate you, and you may not like it, but it will not make you sick, and it will not kill you," he told a caller at the time.
“Firsthand smoke takes 50 years to kill people, if it does. Not everybody that smokes gets cancer. Now, it’s true that everybody who smokes dies, but so does everyone who eats carrots.”
What did his wife say about his death?
"Rush will forever be the greatest of all time. Rush was an extraordinary man. A gentle giant. Brilliant, quick-witted, genuinely kind," Kathryn said on his show the day of his death.
"Extremely generous. Passionate. Courageous. And the hardest working person I know."
"From today on, there will be a tremendous void in our lives, and on the radio.
"Rush encouraged so many of us to think for ourselves. To learn and to lead. He often said it did not matter where you started or what you look like, as Americans we all have endless opportunities like nowhere else in the world," she said.
Kathryn also thanked "each and every one of you who prayed" for Rush while he was battling cancer on behalf of their family.
"In Rush's honor, may we all continue Rush's mission in our individual lives and communities. I know all of you listening are terribly sad.
"We all are. I'm terrible sorry to have to deliver this news to you. God bless you Rush. And God bless our country."
Before his death, Limbaugh's net worth was a whopping $600million – he was among the most highly paid figures in American radio.
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