How do you replace a Rush Limbaugh?   If you’re a radio programmer, the short answer is you don’t.  You just move forward as best as you can.  Many might say “good riddance” to Mr. Limbaugh, but those are people who probably never once listened to Rush.   But millions of people tuned in as Limbaugh literally saved the AM Radio band, and transformed talk radio into a major force among radio formats while giving voice to millions of honest, hard-working Americans.

So when someone like me (Brand Manager of News Talk 95.3 WBCK) has to decide how to replace someone like Rush Limbaugh, the first thing is to recognize the things that made his show great.

When Rush began his new radio show in 1988, listeners instantly found that his message struck a chord with them.  He said things they believed but that nobody was saying on the radio.   The Reagan era championed conservative ideas like a smaller and less-intrusive government, individual rights, tax cuts, free trade, and a strong disdain for any form of socialism.  Rush Limbaugh gave those ideas a strong voice and empowered like-minded people to find theirs.

But the main thing that Rush Limbaugh had was that he was an entertainer.  The former disk jockey presented important issues and ideas in a fun way.  He informed and entertained.   Rush was always respectful to his callers.   He brought in parodies, fun themes, and it was just Rush and his callers.  He seldom sounded angry on the radio.  He loved talking to kids and teens who would call the show.  He would respectfully try to have a conversation with those who disagreed with him, hoping to change their view.  He was far from a perfect person, pretty much like all of us.

We’ve known for a long time that the Rush Limbaugh Show would end.  We got the sad news in January of 2020 that he had advanced lung cancer.   He held on, doing the show for more than a year.  After his death on February 17th, 2021, his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, continued to play recordings from his shows, guided by several guest hosts.   I’ve enjoyed those 4 months, but it’s time to move on.

Premiere Networks has had a year and a half to come up with a great plan to move forward.  Talk Radio programmers have waited patiently for that plan.  When they finally announced their plan a couple of weeks ago, many of us were not impressed.  They decided to pair Buck Sexton, a conservative who filled in for Rush on occasion, and Clay Travis, a sports personality.   It may end up being a good show.  The two have never worked together.  We wish them the best of luck.

There were other choices too, both old and new conservatives with a strong message, but frankly, not very entertaining.  Still, others had a strong message, but sound too angry or divisive.

After checking all of them, WBCK and WKMI have decided to go with Fox Across America, with Jimmy Failla.   I think you’re going to like Jimmy.   First of all, he has a strong conservative message.  But he’s also very entertaining.  Jimmy has worked as a stand-up comic, and a cab driver.  He’s a regular guy, who hits all the talking points of the day that Rush fans expect, and like Rush, he does it in a fun way.   Not only will he take calls from listeners, but he’ll also talk with Fox Network contributors, comedians, and newsmakers.

Fox Across America
Fox Across America

The biggest thing I like about Jimmy is that he wants to have a dialog and find answers to the tough problems we face, and not turn up the anger to get ratings.

When Rush Limbaugh knew that someone else would end up in his time slot, he asked that the audience give the new host 30 days.   We hope you’ll do that, and we’re sure you’re going to like listening to Jimmy every day from noon to 3 pm.

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