Late conservative icon Rush Limbaugh’s longtime friend and producer James Golden – known best to listeners as call screener “Bo Snerdley” – remembered the legacy of Limbaugh and shared how the host changed the media landscape forever.
As he wrote in his new book “Rush on the Radio,” Golden told of how he and Limbaugh crossed paths in New York City prior to their lasting friendship and work together.
“My background and Rush’s had interesting parallels,” he said, describing walking into station WWRL, where his cousin was a disc jockey, at age 14. Golden told Fox News Digital it took 9 years to get what he called his first “real job” – the music director for New York’s 77WABC radio’s last program in that format, and later its first program in its present-day news format.
In the late 1980s, Golden met Limbaugh and his then-business partner, former ABC Radio President Ed McLaughlin, and offered what turned out to be a harbinger of things to come:
“I remarked that it sounded to me like he would be bigger than Paul Harvey. Little did I realize that my own life would be so intertwined with that of Rush and the show, and that he would become the single most successful broadcaster in American history; at least in radio,” Golden said.
Rush Limbaugh, l, and James Golden, r. (James Golden)
As Golden writes in the book – which was released last week – Limbaugh was also often the subject of controversies which the host often turned into memorable moments to hearken back to in later years.
In 1994, an advertising deal between the Rush Limbaugh Show and the Florida Orange Juice Commission led to protests and boycotts of the juice.
One of the organizations that decided to protest the deal was the National Organization for Women.
“Patricia Ireland was heading it back then. They came down to Florida – and they were simply overwhelmed: Rush listeners showed up by the scores and they bought out Orange Juice in every single place that this ragtag group – 10 or 15 of them — showed up,” Golden said.
Freshly-filled cartons of orange juice move down a production line at Florida’s Natural Growers plant in Lake Wales, Florida, U.S., on Thursday, May 26, 2016. Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Dittoheads – as listeners were affectionately called, and often called themselves – essentially put the squeeze on the protests.
Golden told Fox News that incidents like those are essentially the precursor to 21st Century “cancel culture” and “woke” activism.
“If you had a different political philosophy, they wanted to destroy you,” he said. “They didn’t want to argue in the marketplace of ideas, they wanted to destroy their political opponents.’
But, Limbaugh often took such protests and attacks in stride:
“He had a lot of fun with it – we had a lot of fun after we saw … the video and seeing how perplexed these protesters were. Because, up until that time, these leftist protests [always] got the attention of the national media.”
The Florida Orange Juice Commission boycott was the first time that conservatives pushed back on left-wing activism, he said.
“It was hysterically funny and instructional to watch that.”
Rush Limbaugh in his studio during his radio show (Photo by Mark Peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)
In later years, Limbaugh would queue up various satire songs like “Thank the Lord Rush Limbaugh’s On“– in the tune of “O Happy Day” – or “Bomb Iran” – sung in a satirized voice of then-Sen. John McCain to the tune of “Barbara Ann.”
Fox News Digital asked Golden about how those memorable satires came about.
The longtime producer said that some of the ideas came from listeners’ own funny thoughts – and would be analyzed by “Kit Carson” the EIB Network’s chief of staff.
The particularly good ones were sent on to Rush, and some – like “Bomb Iran” – were recorded by satirist Paul Shanklin.
Some of the other titles from those days were performed via impersonation of President Obama, including “Party Like It’s 1929” – “Every Cent You Make (I’ll Be Taxing You)” – while others like “Al Gore: Balls of Fire” featured a likeness of Vice President Al Gore Jr, a noted global warming activist, singing his version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
In terms of Limbaugh listeners pushing back in their own fun way against what was the 1990s version of wokeness, Golden later described how First Lady Hillary Clinton embarked on a bus tour in support of nationalized health care that was often stymied by the presence of conservatives with a differing viewpoint.
Golden also recalled a time when Clinton’s husband, then-President Clinton urged schoolchildren to hold bake sales to benefit the U.S. Treasury, that Limbaugh once again took that instance and turned it into a memorable moment.
Speaking to a listener named Dan who remarked about reading the host’s “Limbaugh Letter” weekly publication secondhand from a friend, Limbaugh joked that he should be buying the subscription himself and suggested he fundraise for it.
Dan’s Bake Sale was born.
“He liked to illustrate absurdity by being absurd,” Golden said of the late host. “It turned into a national movement.”
Golden recounted how 70,000 Limbaugh listeners came together in Fort Collins, Colorado, for “Dan’s Bake Sale” – which featured local vendors and other attractions as well.
“The conservative ‘Woodstock’,” Golden recalled.
“One of the most amazing things about that day, those 70,000 people cleaned up after themselves so well that nobody could believe they had an event that size in that town. People also flew in from Europe, Egypt, and other countries — The town of Fort Collins was left pristine after this event.”
Rush Limbaugh Show producer James Golden compiles his show preparation in the early days of the program, which began in 1988. (James Golden)
When Limbaugh was asked to repeat the event, he replied that some things are meant to be once-in-a-lifetime for good reason.
“Let’s enjoy the fact it happened one time,” Golden recalled the host expressing.
That sentiment came again in 2009 when Limbaugh held what he referred to as his “First National Address to the Nation” – after hearing that Fox News and C-SPAN were broadcasting it live.
On a cool February evening in a ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel not far from The White House, then-CPAC Director Lisa DePasquale introduced Limbaugh as the event’s final speaker.
The crowd erupted in chants of “Rush – Rush – Rush – Rush” as the host took the stage to the opening bass line of “My City Was Gone” – which was also used as “The Rush Limbaugh Show’s” synonymous theme music.
Normally, keynote speeches at the convention run for about an hour. But Limbaugh spoke for more than 80 minutes, leaving the crowd enraptured throughout with what Golden recounted as the positive message of conservatism not understood or reported by the mainstream media.
“The CPAC speech that he made electrified the country,” Golden told Fox News. “He really did galvanize the country behind… conservatism.”
“He explained to America who conservatives were: That we love the country that we love the people that we’re not these things that the left says we are,” Golden said. “His love for the country, his love for the people of this country; it resonated.”
Rush Limbaugh offers the keynote address to the 2009 CPAC at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park, D.C., on February 28, 2009. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w32hFilBAUg)
“That CPAC speech has been viewed so many times, because this is something usually that a president of the United States [would have] held,” Golden said. “This guy on the radio galvanized the country behind his defining of what conservatism was.”
Golden noted to Fox News that that message was often met by stiff opposition from Democratic members of Congress.
He spoke about how former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota supported bringing back the Fairness Doctrine – which President Reagan repealed.
“After the Dems had a particularly bad midterm, Tom Daschle was caught on tape – they viewed it as a problem that so many Dems listened to Rush Limbaugh and were being persuaded by [Limbaugh].”
Daschle was later echoed by the late Rep. Louise Slaughter from Western New York, who Golden said sought a motion to “shut down Rush on the radio – he was a thorn in the Democratic Party narrative.”
“When we tried to reinstate [it] again in 1993, one of the reasons we couldn’t was that Rush Limbaugh had organized this massive uprising against it, calling it ‘Hush Rush Law’,” Slaughter said of the Fairness Doctrine in 2004.
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 30: House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol July 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“They did everything they could with their allies in the mainstream press, who have very little intellectual honesty, to smear him and shade any story that they could to discredit him. And then, they actively – members of Congress who are supposed to support this Constitution of ours – wanted to shut down Rush’s First Amendment right to speak and shut down this program – thankfully they were not successful in doing it – but they honestly did try.”
Golden called moves like that the “forerunner to cancel culture.”
Speaking about more recent incidents, Golden pointed to the media’s one-sided coverage of Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Winsome Sears, who many pundits equated with White supremacy despite the fact the former Norfolk lawmaker is a Jamaican immigrant and Marine Corps veteran.
“Here you have a woman who’s an immigrant from Jamaica, proudly is an African-American woman who immigrated to this country, served in the US Marines and credits [them] with being a guiding light for her in helping her develop her leadership skills,” Golden told Fox News.
“Her dad immigrated to this country with $1.75 in his pocket and became successful through hard work – The Democrat response to that … was to call this proud Black African-American immigrant from Jamaica a ‘White supremacist’ so that it could fit their narrative of what was taking place in Virginia.”
“That is the kind of intellectual dishonesty that you see all over the mainstream media and across the Democratic Party.”
Former Republican Delegate Winsome Sears celebrates winning the race for Lt. Governor of Virginia during an election night party in Chantilly Virginia, U.S., November 3, 2021. REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst (REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst)
Democrats were in somewhat of a panic earlier this year, he said, after former Gov. Terry McAuliffe “realized too late” that basing his campaign attacks against opponent Glenn Youngkin on Donald Trump were falling flat.
“When Terry McAuliffe realized that this Trump thing wasn’t working he tried to pivot but it was too late – because he had already embraced that as his narrative, when the real issue in Virginia is what is happening in the schools,” he said, referring to the rise of critical race theory curriculum.
“[T]his anti-American viewpoint based on racial animus is being spread throughout schools in the country,” he said.
“Then you have the attorney general, Merrick Garland, joining forces with a renegade school board association trying to call the parents who are concerned about this ‘domestic terrorists’ – while not revealing that his own son-in-law has an interest in putting these CRT materials into schools and is making a profit off doing that.”
Garland has come under fire for a memorandum giving federal investigators leeway to probe activities at school board meetings they deem untoward or criminal.
“This entire Virginia debacle showed one of the weaknesses of the Democratic Party which is focusing on their Trump-hate,” he said, adding that Limbaugh was smeared just as much as the former president has been by the same media and government figures.
“The same kind of vitriol that they’ve been attacking Rush with since the beginning of the program… They don’t rely on facts, they just want to smear and discredit their political opponents rather than engage them and it is starting to backfire,” he said.
Golden pointed to Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s interview with Kyle Rittenhouse as evidence that the mainstream media and Democrats’ narratives are too often exposed as flawed or false when the facts come to light.
“Tucker did a brilliant interview that should have been done by others in the media, but was not. What did we discover? – that Rittenhouse supports the BLM movement – that Rittenhouse actually helped protesters at that riot; helped get them medical attention,” he said.
“He was out there to help anybody – we also discovered his motivations, whether some might question whether they are wise or not were to protect property – contrary to media assertions he did not take a weapon across state lines.”
Golden called it “astounding” that other media outlets never bothered to seek the facts or a firsthand account of what occurred the night Rittenhouse shot three protesters during the Kenosha riots.
Kyle Rittenhouse sits down with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on November 22, 2021. (Fox News/Tucker Carlson Tonight)
“This Rittenhouse case shows the utter failure of the mainstream media in this country, which is to report news and do their job and give a good analysis of the news,” he said.
“They are right now just a political subsidiary of the left – and that is what they’re doing – trying to shade truths to fit in a predetermined narrative from the left.”
Golden also opened up about Trump, saying he and Limbaugh respected each other.
“When I was in New York I used to have Donald Trump on my weekend show for WABC – President Trump has been very very kind to me personally,” Golden said.
Golden added that there are parallels between how the media turned on Trump after years of being cordial after he announced his presidential bid, to the way they treated Limbaugh before he became a voice for conservatism.
“It wasn’t until Rush spoke up against Democrat policies that they started giving him those horrible names,” he said. “Donald Trump has suffered more defamation of his character than any president in modern times because these people are relentless in their opposition to him — and they cannot argue it on merit, so they use ad hominem attacks to smear and castigate their opponents.”
Golden fondly recalled Trump awarding Limbaugh the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he added had a humorous aspect to it – in that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her Democratic caucus had to be present for the award because it took place at the State of the Union.
“[T]he Democrats who so opposed him had to be in attendance for that ceremony – it was just amazingly funny,” he said.
FILE PHOTO: Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh reacts as he is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Golden also spoke about Rush and Kathryn Limbaugh’s commitment to raising money for both Leukemia research and for the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.
In the 2000s, to commemorate his “Rush Revere” book series, Limbaugh simultaneously embarked on a themed venture, marketing cases of “Two If By Tea” featuring Rush Revere and his horse “Liberty” on the label – the proceeds of which went to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation.
In February, Limbaugh died of complications from stage-4 lung cancer. Within days, a makeshift memorial popped up in front of his home in Palm Beach. Supporters, neighbors and others all left a growing collection of sentiments in front of his gate.
“I’m of course gratified by anyone who chooses to remember Rush for the incredible human being that he was,” Golden told Fox News.
“He was a man like no other that I have met.”