Rush Limbaugh was born Rush Hudson Limbaugh III on January 12, 1951, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, into a highly regarded local family—including his paternal grandfather, Rush Hudson Limbaugh, who served as a U.S. ambassador to India under President Dwight D. Eisenhower; an uncle who served as a federal judge during Ronald Reagan’s presidency; and a conservative father, Rush Hudson Limbaugh II, who worked as an attorney.
By the time he was 8 years old, Limbaugh had set his sights on a career in radio. His father, however, had a more stable career in mind for his son. Though Limbaugh’s family frowned upon his aspirations for a career in radio, they didn’t completely ignore his passion for broadcasting. At the age of 9, Limbaugh received a Remco Caravelle, a toy radio that could transmit on AM frequencies up to 500 feet away.
Limbaugh landed his first radio job when he was in high school; using the pseudonym “Rusty Sharpe,” he worked as a deejay for the local station KGMO (co-owned by his father). Following high school, Limbaugh briefly attended Southeast Missouri State University; he left the school in 1971, after one year of enrollment to pursue a career in radio.
Following a stint as a ticket salesman for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals, in the mid-1980s, Limbaugh landed a job as an on-air host at KFBK in Sacramento, California, with the help of a radio executive friend. There, Limbaugh took over Morton Downey Jr.’s slot, and met with success when his ratings surpassed his predecessor’s. Less than a year later, Limbaugh became known as Sacramento’s top radio host.
In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission repealed a long-standing rule known as the Fairness Doctrine, which required both television and radio stations to air for an equal amount of time each side to a political argument. Not long after, the on-air host left KFBK for a position at the ABC Radio Network, bringing his newfound fame with him, as well as a reputation for having strong, right wing ideologies.
The Rush Limbaugh Show, nationally syndicated from New York City by ABC Radio, premiered on August 1, 1988. Known for its heavy political focus, The Rush Limbaugh Show has been on the air for more than two decades and is credited today as the highest-rated American talk radio program.
In addition to his success on the radio, Limbaugh makes regular appearances as a political commentator on various TV programs, and has authored a number of magazine articles and books.
Limbaugh was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.