Straight Talk | Never was, never will



Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has died at the young age of 70. As someone who has spent a large part of his life in radio, I can tell you there was never anyone who was as popular as Limbaugh, and there never will be anyone like him again. One survey estimated his daily listeners numbered as high as 43 million during his three hours of air time. Significantly, the survey also said his loyal fans spent, on average, more than two hours listening each day.

That’s an almost unbelievable statistic. When I started in radio and had my own show, even my mother didn’t listen to me that much. Then again, I wasn’t as entertaining as Rush Limbaugh, who rarely missed a show until he developed a serious hearing problem and then when he was stricken with lung cancer.

There have been some very successful radio programs, but none attracted an audience as large and as vast as Rush Limbaugh. Peorians can brag about the “Fibber McGee and Molly Show,” starring Jim Jordan and Marian Driscoll, who were heard nationally for 24 years, from 1935 to 1959. Peorian Charles Correll was Andy on the “Amos and Andy” comedy program from 1928 to 1960, an amazing 32 years. His brother, Tom, coached sports at Kingman and Woodruff high schools for 37 years.

Rush is gone, but you wouldn’t know it listening to affiliate stations on his EIB network, like WLS and WMBD. As the network scrambled to find someone of his political faith with the same dynamic and enthusiastic personality, the stations featured one host after another with recorded dubs of Limbaugh. It may have worked for a few days, but not for weeks. I suspect ratings for those three hours have been dropping like the parachute ride at Six Flags. Lost ratings translate to lost revenue.

Cumulus Media’s Westwood One has announced the “Dan Bongino Show” will fill the time slot occupied by Rush. If you don’t watch Fox News, you have no idea who Bongino is, other than to guess he’s a conservative. And so he is. Bongino is a former Secret Service agent and a New York police officer. He’s been doing podcasts on Westwood One for several years, but he’s no Rush Limbaugh. He’s fierce and finds little humor in what liberals and left-wingers are doing to this country, especially in the House, Senate and White House. Can he retain Limbaugh’s fans? Only time will tell.

Was it mishandled?

The Bradley University basketball season is over. Despite early predictions, the men’s team under-performed. The sad highlight was the suspension of four players who were guilty of nothing, other than team rules such as curfew violations. Unfortunately, the four were unable to play and had to go to school under a cloud of suspicion for a “sex offense,” whatever that means. Many Bradley fans feel kicking the players off the team for the year was far too excessive and not only damaged them, but the school’s reputation, making recruitment even more difficult. No arrests or charges were lodged against anyone. It seems in college sports you’re guilty until you or someone proves you are not. From my perspective it appears Springfield, Mo., police have fumbled their way through a rather inept investigation keeping the media guessing and speculating. One source suggests two young women visited the motel where the Bradley team was staying. One of them was a friend of a player. The other was not a friend of anyone and reportedly called police the next day. Too bad she didn’t stay home if that rumor is true. On campus, it seems it will be a rebuilding year for Bradley basketball next season with the possible loss of five players. We wish Coach Brian Wardle success.

It was a strange primary

The Feb. 23 primary had the usual poor off-year turnout of voters and that statistic created some real surprises. Most everyone, and that includes me, thought the two finalists for mayor would be Rita Ali and Sid Ruckriegel. We were half right. Ali got the most votes, but fellow council member Jim Montelongo edged Ruckriegel. Even more surprising was the defeat of Peoria Township Supervisor Frank Abdnour by newcomer Latrina Leary in the Democrat primary. She won by two votes. In the First District council race, former WEEK-TV anchor Denise Jackson got more votes than incumbent, Denise Moore and is poised to win April 6.

In the Fourth District, attorney Steven Kouri was by far the top vote getter over Andre Allen, but then accepted an appointment to the Illinois Human Rights Commission by Governor Pritzker. Kouri had to withdraw allowing Allen to back into the victory lane. The biggest surprise was Brooke Petty Sommerville in the race for City Treasurer –– 11,346 people voted and Sommerville led the four-person race with 4,157 votes to second place finisher Steve Morris who polled 3,090. Sommerville is the daughter of long-time Democrat activist Jackie Petty, while Morris is chairman of the Peoria County Republican Party.

Whether Morris wins or loses, he should step down as Republican county chairman. His failure to recruit anyone to run for Peoria Township Supervisor is a major disappointment. Perhaps he was too busy campaigning for himself to focus on seeking a candidate. Peoria County Republicans need new leadership. I would suggest Peoria County Board member Rachel Reliford. The 12th District representative has an outstanding reputation already as a major physician recruiter for OSF St. Francis Healthcare. She’s young, energetic, articulate and well-liked and would be ideal in that position. Whether she has the time might be an issue, but she should be considered especially in light of the volatile incident that happened recently at the monthly meeting of the Second Ward Republican Club.

Quote of the month

“The very first Easter taught us this: that life never ends and love never dies.” —Kate McGahan

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