Rush Limbaugh announced on his nationally syndicated radio show his recent diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. “So, I have to tell you something today that I wish I didn’t have to tell you. It’s a struggle for me because I had to inform my staff earlier today,” he said. “I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down.”
Limbaugh had informed his listeners over the years that he smoked from age 16 through 30. Since then, he has smoked cigars.
In a career he touted as being filled with “the greatest satisfaction and happiness,” Limbaugh was in 2018 the world’s second-highest-paid (behind Howard Stern) radio host, reportedly earning $84.5 million.
Recently Limbaugh signed a long-term contract, and the deal was announced, unofficially, by President Donald Trump at a rally in Miami last month. “We have great people. Rush just signed another four-year contract,” Trump said. “He just wants four more years, OK?”
Rush has made an incredible impact on journalism, as a radio personality, conservative political commentator, author, and former television show host. The Rush Limbaugh Show, which started syndication in 1988, is the most-listened-to radio talk show in the United States according to Nielsen Audio, reaching more than 20 million monthly listeners on more than 650 affiliates.
In addition to his radio show, Limbaugh hosted a national television show from 1992 to 1996. He has written seven books; his first two, The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993), made The New York Times best-seller list.
Limbaugh is considered by many to be the founder of what has become a vibrant conservative media industry. He was a relatively unknown disc jockey and talk-radio host in Kansas City when a station in Sacramento, CA, hired him to start a show in 1984. He accepted the challenge and shared his conservative views freely.
Although his goal was to become a successful radio personality, he found a large and eager market for his conservative observations and opinions. Given that these views were underrepresented, he attracted significant attention and a rapidly growing audience that snagged the interest of a New York radio station, which hired him and syndicated his show nationally.
This is not the first time Limbaugh has faced serious health issues while in the public eye. He went deaf in 2001, and his hearing was restored through the use of a cochlear implant. In 2003, he revealed his struggle with addiction to prescription pain medication and his decision to enter a rehab clinic to overcome the problem. Limbaugh had informed his listeners over the years that he smoked cigarettes from age 16 through 30. Since then, he has smoked cigars.
In a moving moment, he said at the end of his program, “One thing that I know, that has happened over the 31-plus years of this program, is that there has been an incredible bond that has developed between all of you and me. Every day I’m not here, I’ll be missing you and thinking about you.”
Limbaugh told his staff, “I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about, and I have been working that relationship tremendously, which I do regularly anyway, but I’ve been focused on it intensely for the past couple of weeks.” The radio host added that he will be out for the next several days as he undergoes treatment.
Read more from Loraine Silvetz, MSW.