Rush Limbaugh’s influence reached far more than conservative, or even adversarial leftist, followers of politics.
American radio is unique in the world for disseminating information, culture, music, weather, and more. For decades before television existed, or was affordable to most families, radio brought the outside world into rural homes.
In the early 90s, Rush Limbaugh’s creation of powerhouse talk radio brought not just political influence, even to the steps of the White House, but also created a financial behemoth that reached all areas of commerce.
About 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to have a fascinating visit to Wheeling, West Virginia.
An Ohio River railroad town, it has a unique history of being both the capital of Virginia and West Virginia in 1863. There’s gorgeous architecture, including Victorian, Art Nouveau, vintage farm, and factory buildings, as well as a suspension bridge over the Ohio.
The Capitol Theatre is a stunning, white Greek revival building on the riverfront that was opened just before the Great Depression. Special features include built-in insulating and fireproof materials, copper marquee with neon, arches, pocket lanterns lighting the two ticket booths, soft velvet cushions on the seats.
The building also has a ballroom and recording studio. (Keep that in the back of your mind.)
The lobby holds all kinds of treasures, including one that brought a tear to my eye.
The Wheeling Symphony performed there, with Henry Mazer as its conductor at the recommendation of the great Fritz Reiner. It was his first major gig. There’s a headshot of Mazer when he was young and handsome – in the days when virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin performed there and later referred to it in his autobiography.
But, I knew him as "Maestro." My violin teacher called him "Hank."
Mazer was my conductor when I was the youngest girl to ever solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1980, when he was Associate Conductor under Georg Solti.
For country music fans, The Wheeling Jamboree is the second oldest country music radio program after the Grand Ole Opry, begininng in 1933. After their then-host radio station, WWVA, moved to a recording space in the Capitol Theatre in late 1969, many of country’s and bluegrass’s beloved performers played there, including local favorite son Brad Paisley. The Wheeling Jamboree still hosts occasional special concerts and other performers still do their thing at the glamorous theater.
But, West Virginia has gone through terrible financial crises, including Wheeling, with floods and industry collapses. A city that once boasted the most millionaires per capita was in danger of losing the beautiful Capitol Theatre.
Then in 1997, WWVA moved to a talk radio station format. Soon, it added Rush Limbaugh.
That station is still there, no doubt supplying a major level of financial support that contributes to the upkeep of the Theatre.
The strength of Rush and his audience helped keep a beautiful, cultural treasure alive to the delight of millions.
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the youngest girl violinist to solo with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Having traveled the world, Tamar shares flavors, history, arts and insightful interviews with fascinating folks from all walks of life. She's held her own on TV with celebrities like Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren, Dr. Phil and Peter Frampton. Tamar has a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore. She is a practicing member of the Maryland Bar and a Kentucky Colonel. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.
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