by Ski Ingram

One year ago, today Rush Limbaugh passed from this earth to the next. I do not remember where I was or what I was doing when I heard of Rush’s death. I guess it is because I knew he was sick and death was imminent. I do, however, remember where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard him on the radio.

I had been a fan of talk radio since I was a kid listening to a local news station at night on the crystal set (precursor to the transistor radio) I made with my own two hands.  The KNX radio station was about a mile from my house in Redondo Beach, California. It was the only station my radio would pick up, so I listened to it. I was ten years old.  I’d sneak the radio in bed with me and listen until I fell asleep. The show host was Michael Jackson, from South Africa, who would take calls from people, but he was not allowed to respond to whatever crazy thing they wanted to talk about.  I’d get very frustrated because he wouldn’t challenge them, and I couldn’t either.

The first time I heard Rush Limbaugh was in 1988. I was in my backyard building a garden shed.  I had the radio playing, as always.  I was tuned to KHJ radio in Los Angeles getting ready to listen to a guy, I don’t remember his name, that I considered an idiot.  I did not agree with most things he had to say, but I listened anyway.  At 0900 hours (9:00 AM) a guy who said his name was Rush Limbaugh came on the air.  First thing I said to myself was “what kind of a name is Rush.”  I was hooked from the beginning with this bold, brash, entertaining radio host.  I listened that day and didn’t stop listening for 33 years. There has never been anyone like Rush, before or since.  I still listen to talk radio but not as often. No one will take Rush’s place in the talk radio world.

I believe it was 1992 when Rush came to Long Beach on his “Rush Conservative Tour.”  It was a Saturday, and I was working Patrol. The first thing I did that day was to “Rush,” (pun intended) to the Convention Center where Rush would be speaking.  I ran into Kendall Marshall, another LBPD officer, sitting in the front row with his wife and right next to Rush’s mother. I talked to Mrs. Limbaugh for a while and then asked Kendall if he wanted to go backstage and meet Rush.  He didn’t but I did so I went backstage alone.

I was in uniform, and no one stopped me or even asked why I was there or what I wanted.  The first person I met was Robert Bork, a one-time Supreme Court Justice nominee. I said hello, he said hello, but I didn’t even think to ask him to take a picture with me.  I had only one thing on my mind and that was to talk to Rush and get my picture taken with him. While I was talking to Judge Bork, Rush came from behind a curtain.  I stopped him and asked him to take a picture with me.  He told me that he was really busy and to come back later and he’d be happy too. 

I left and went on patrol.  A few hours later, I think after I had dropped off some dirt bag at the jail, I returned to the Convention Center.   I walked backstage as if I owned the place.  I found Rush and got my picture.  He was very kind and gracious. It was his personal bodyguard, a police sergeant from Sacramento PD, who took the picture.

I was a Rush fan to the end.  He never disappointed.  I have had my picture taken with more than a few celebrities, but the one with Rush is my favorite. 

Thank you, Rush, you taught me a lot in the 33 years that I attended your History, Civics and Political Science classes.  I’ll never forget caller abortions, the parody songs, the nicknames you used for well-known personalities (who deserved them!), your golden EIB microphone, and the bounty of knowledge that was imparted through all that entertaining talk.