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Opinion: Portland talk radio host Lars Larson recalls the impacts made by Rush Limbaugh, who died Feb. 17, at age 70.

COURTESY PHOTO: LARS LARSON - Portland talk radio host Lars Larson discusses the impact that Rush Limbaugh had on the industry. Limbaugh died Feb. 17 at the age of 70.When Rush Limbaugh launched his nationally syndicated show in 1988, talk was the smallest format in American radio. In all, 110 stations in the 50 states out of about 12,000 total radio stations.

Today, spoken word is the single biggest format and is further amplified by podcast, streaming and social media.

Rush had failed as a disc jockey and failed at radio sports announcing.

There's a life lesson in that.

Rush reinvented modern talk radio on a single station in Sacramento, and he became its single biggest talent.COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Rush Limbaugh died on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the age of 70.

One year and two weeks ago, Donald Trump gave Rush the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a champion of American First Amendment rights. When the president awarded that high honor, he knew that Rush had also been given a death sentence: Stage 4 lung cancer.

He stayed on the air, informed his audience and presented a brave and happy face to the literally tens of millions of Americans who turned to him. Early this year, after the chemotherapy had failed, Rush reminded his audience that his doctors didn't expect him to make it … to October 2020

…to the November election.

…to Christmas.

But, as he put it, "yet, here I am."

I know that a lot of people assume that all of us in this uniquely American medium are personal friends. Many of us are. I would love to tell you that I knew Rush as a friend, but I never got the opportunity. I would have welcomed it.

I only met the man once. I was in California for a talk radio conference. Word came down that Rush would show up in person and speak (that didn't happen often). I was early, got a spot in the front row when the audience heard the back doors of the auditorium open and we all turned around to look.

No one.

When I turned back around, there he was, standing in front of me, the biggest man in talk radio: RUSH!

He shook my hand and then he moved to the stage.

I admire him for the changes that he brought about in talk radio over more than three decades ... and in the last year for his courage in facing Stage 4 cancer, which he knew was ultimately a death sentence.

He faced it with the kind of optimism he always exhibited.

He got the best medical care.

Many of us, facing the imminent end of our lives, if we had the resources to do so (and Rush certainly had plenty) would quit and simply enjoy what we had left.

Not Rush.

He stuck with his audience, who he loved, and advocated for the country he loved.

God bless Rush Limbaugh, may you Rest in Peace.

Lars Larson has had a syndicated Northwest talk show on 23 stations for 21 years. His nationally syndicated show is carried on more than 150 stations He was worked in radio for 46 years and in Portland media for 40 years.

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