Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman wonders what America would be like today if KQV in Pittsburgh did not fire him. Here is a taste of his column:
One of the fascinating factoids about Limbaugh that is being emphasized in local coverage of his death is that he got his professional start at WIXZ in McKeesport in the early ’70s spinning Top 40 records under the nom de plume “Jeff Christie.”
As Jeff Christie, Limbaugh was relatively inoffensive but already showing signs that he understood the potential of the medium that would distinguish him from almost every other talent in radio.
He was canned after 18 months, but landed at nearby KQV, a top-five station in Pittsburgh radio at the time. Ironically, Limbaugh replaced Jim Quinn, a legendary DJ who had been lured away to a bigger market. Decades later, Mr. Quinn would bend over backward to become this region’s version of Limbaugh, but he never had the talent to pull it off, especially with the original still dominating markets coast to coast.
By all accounts, Rush Limbaugh loved Pittsburgh, especially the Steelers, but by 1974 it was clear that he couldn’t stay here. He was a bit too clever for the region. After he was fired by KQV, he returned to Missouri to live with his parents until he figured out his next move.
An interesting counterfactual would be to imagine what American history would look like now if Rush had succeeded in conquering the Pittsburgh market as a DJ in the early ’70s as planned.
What if “El-Rushbo’s” only scandals had been playing too much Ted Nugent or Doobie Brothers or Blue Oyster Cult? How different would history have been had Rush ended up as the program director at WDVE for 30 years before retiring to Charleroi with his second wife and three kids? What if he had found his voice playing “the oldies, but goodies” that Pittsburghers insist on as a birthright? Thirty years of “Freebird” versus 30 years of propaganda. How bad would that have been?
If only Pittsburgh had found the space to give an introverted disc jockey the happiness and respect he desperately craved in the early ’70s. Pittsburgh radio would still be boring, but a satisfied “Jeff Christie” would’ve spared an unsuspecting America a lot of hell and a lot of “ditto-heads” in high places. And Donald Trump would be someone’s miserable landlord instead of a failed authoritarian.
Read the entire piece here.