That’s a wrap.
A handful of callers on the air — and millions of listeners around the world — expressed their grief and gratitude as the final episode of “The Rush Limbaugh Show” aired on Friday afternoon, nearly four months after the death of its host. It was just two months short of its 33rd anniversary.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say this wasn’t a little surreal,” said regular “guide host” Ken Matthews, who hosts a talk radio show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as the program opened.
Matthews praised Limbaugh’s resilience, as he continued to host the show nearly until his final day of consciousness.
“He fought until the end, literally until he did not have a voice. You could hear it,” Matthews said.
Since becoming nationally syndicated in August 1988, Limbaugh provided tens of millions of Americans with commentary that sounded like nothing else available on the air.
“These three hours of the day are the three hours of the day when life seems normal,” said Limbaugh in a clip aired in the first hour of Friday’s show.
Listeners flocked to Limbaugh not only because of his incisive wit and peerless voice, but also his humor and the show’s undeniable entertainment factor, Matthews said. “There was a cheerfulness and a graciousness” to Limbaugh’s personality. “That’s why there are so many people in the business, like me, who said, ‘I’m gonna do talk radio one day.’”
The final episode of the long-running show highlighted Limbaugh’s passions outside radio, including his love of music, sports, technology, and people of good cheer from all backgrounds. Since Rush was “a gracious gentleman,” he could be friends with Elton John, as well as William F. Buckley Jr. or Donald Trump.
“To me, that was the greatest takeaway of the Rush Limbaugh show: You could be a conservative and get along with anybody,” said Matthews.
A select group of Limbaugh’s fans, who dubbed themselves Dittoheads, called to share their memories of the true, undisputed king of talk radio.
A 10-year-old child who devoured Limbaugh’s “Rush Revere” line of books said that Rush’s “wisdom will live on, well, forever.”
The final segment of the show’s traditional “Open Line Friday” featured a call by Fred from New York, an orphan who discovered Rush Limbaugh’s voice when he tuned in to hear a traffic report.
Limbaugh was “the first positive male influence I ever had in my life,” he said.
The show helped the adult orphan forget bitter memories of “a state-run institution that just taught me negativity” and gave him “something positive to listen to no matter what was going on in my life.”
“I just can’t believe this is coming to an end,” he said.
Limbaugh’s frequent motivational speeches encouraged Fred to start a business and raise two successful children.
“I never had any positive male influence in my life beside Rush Limbaugh,” he said. Rush “has made me a proud man.”
Rush Limbaugh made millions of Americans proud of their own accomplishments, confident of their ability to make a living without relying on the government, and filled with patriotism for their country — all themes rejected by the legacy media.
“We are under assault from within by the American Left and the Democratic Party, but we persevere, because there are more of us who cherish the United States as founded,” said Limbaugh in another flashback played on Friday’s show.
“If there is a virus that is contagious, it is the mainstream media as it’s currently constituted. That’s the virus,” Rush said. “There is a poisoning of the American mind taking place. … EIB is an airborne phenomenon spread by casual contact, and it inoculates you; it cures you of this sickening disease.”
The seeds planted by three decades of conservatism will bear fruit for generations to come, Matthews said. “I think the awakening is legitimate. The media can’t turn this around,” he said.
“They don’t control the narrative anymore, because truth is better than any narrative,” he said. “I think common sense is gonna bring a lot of people to the conservative side.”
“I think in addition to the Republican Party never being the same again, thank God, the media will have some major changes that we will like,” Matthews said.
Big changes will certainly be coming to talk radio.
Since Limbaugh passed away on February 17 at the age of 70 from stage four lung cancer, the show has been helmed by a series of “guide hosts” who comment on the headlines before playing recordings of Limbaugh. Guides like Todd Herman or Brent Winterble were occasionally joined on the air by James “Bo Snerdley” Golden or Rush Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn.
Golden — who now hosts his own, two-hour talk show Saturday mornings on WABC — recorded his own podcast tribute in his resonant voice, “Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone.”
Months after Limbaugh’s death, a network insider revealed that the show continued to attract “75% to 80%” of its 20 million-member audience.
But that will come to an end on Monday. “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show” will air from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time over Premiere Networks, a division of iHeart Radio.
Competition for conservative listeners include “The Dan Bongino Show,” “The Dana Show” hosted by Dana Loesch, and “The Erick Erickson Show.”
Matthews promised the Travis/Sexton show will be “a new chapter in this love of America” exemplified by Rush Limbaugh the last 32 years of his life, as he wound down the program.
“It’s been an experience,” Matthews said as he closed the final segment. “I was doing pretty good” until being jarred by “the emotional attachment we all have to this man named Rush Limbaugh” by Fred’s call.
“Forever dittos, to you and to all of us,” Fred said.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.