The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

27 February 2008

Talk Radio Mourns Passing Of William F Buckley Jr


Buckley's Passing Has Talkers Reminiscing

*** Updated With Exclusive Hannity Reaction ***
*** NEW: Special Rush Transcript Sneak Peak ***
*** NEW: CBS Uses Buckley Passing To Bash Rush ***
*** NewsBusters Goes After CBS ***
*** Mark Levin Tribute Added Below ***

The passing of conservative icon William F Buckley this morning has conservative talk radio hosts mourning this great loss, while reminiscing about his impact on the movement.

Though Buckley, who passed away at home in Stamford at 82, was never a radio talk host, his impact on the medium could not have been greater. His writings and record- setting television tenure on Firing Line served as the primary inspiration for Rush Limbaugh, who went on to revolutionize talk radio. That set the tone for many other talkers as well.

Bloggers are busy weighing in with their reactions as well, while the National Review Online site appears to have crashed from a probable avalanche of traffic. (Note: site seems to be working now)

Opening his show with an immediate outpouring of emotion over Buckley's passing, Limbaugh called it "a very sad day here for a lot of people, including me..."

Remembering his first encounter with Buckley, he added, "what a thrill it was to finally be able to meet him."

The talk titan continued by revealing how it was Buckley's columns, rather than school, that motivated a young Limbaugh to want to accomplish something in life. As a regular reader to his newspaper column, published in the St Louis Globe-Democrat, Rush remembers "just being mesmerized" by Buckley's words.

"He literally created my desire to learn," Limbaugh added just minutes ago, "it's the single greatest motivation I've had, to read, write, learn, it came from William F Buckley"

Speaking of the prolific author's long life, Rush noted, "he did not waste a moment."

"It was his intellect, his humor that was inspiring to me."

We'll have other reactions as they emerge today.

UPDATE: asked for comment, Sean Hannity told your Radio Equalizer, "one of the highlights of my career has been to meet and interview Bill Buckley. With intellect, wit and humor, he advanced the conservative movement into the mainstream of American society. Every conservative commentator, author, and politician owes him a debt of gratitude for his life's work, as we stand on his shoulders, advancing the cause of liberty and freedom. He was truly a GREAT American and will be missed by all."

UPDATE: Limbaugh callers are adding their own moving reactions to Buckley's passing. One woman said that "the conservative torch has now been passed on to Rush".

UPDATE: a special sneak peak Rush transcript is now available. Here's an excerpt:

RUSH: William F. Buckley passed away either late last night or this morning at his home in his study in Stamford, Connecticut, a place that I have been privileged to visit countless times. I've been reading some of the quickly produced obits and bios on Buckley on the wire services and I've had a chance to listen to some people on television who worked for him or knew him intimately talking about him, and I want to leave it to others to describe his history and his role in conservatism. I think a lot of people are not aware of it. I'll take my spin at that at some point.

But in talking about Bill Buckley, I'd rather focus on the instances that I spent time with him, that I got to discuss things with him and the things that we discussed and what a thrill it was to be able to finally meet him under the circumstances that happened. For me to trace my knowledge of William Buckley, I have to go back to when I was 13, 14 years old and hated school. I felt like school was prison. I felt like I was being controlled and dominated. When I feel like I'm being controlled, I'm outta there. I just revolt, I leave, don't want any part it from anybody anyhow. So school was not a particularly productive place for me. I did absorb a lot there but only because I had to be there.

My desire to learn actually came from outside the classroom. It came from my father, perhaps the most brilliant man I ever knew intimately, and my grandfather, of course, and many members of my family, and tossed into the mix was Mr. Buckley, who had a newspaper column. I remember at age 12 or 13 it was published in the St. Louis Globe Democrat, which was the morning paper in St. Louis at the time that was conservative for the most part. No longer publishes, of course. But I remember at age 13, 14, all the way up through high school just being mesmerized. It was the things that Buckley wrote in those columns that literally created my desire to learn. Of course, listening to my father just rant on about a number of things constantly regarding politics, cultural things, we were a very active family in that regard, and, you know, the old image of families sitting around the dinner table and talking about stuff was true at our house. For me it was a listening experience, and, of course, peppered with questions and so forth. The single greatest motivation I had to learn to read, write, speak the English language the best I could, to expand my vocabulary, came from Bill Buckley.

Bill Buckley is indescribable. He's irreplaceable. There will not be another one like him. And although that's true of all of us, once you take the time to learn about Buckley and his life and look at what all he did with it, he did not waste a moment, did not waste a moment. He was able to pursue, as he called it, his sybaritic delights, his pleasurable delights, such as sailing around the world numerous times, traveling the world with his work. He was prolific in output, but it was his intellect and it was his good humor that was literally inspiring to me. Even after I went through one year of college and I was having trouble, flunked speech, should have called the course Outline 101. Flunked speech, did every speech, showed up at every class and still flunked it. I said, "This is not for me." And one morning I was sitting in the house 20-years-old and I said, "I'm quitting." I told my dad, "I'm quitting. I can't handle this. I'm leaving. I've got a job offer in Pittsburgh, and I'm going to go there." And of course he came from the Great Depression, and that was the worst news he could hear. The formative years of his life were the Great Depression and World War II. You go through the Great Depression, and if you didn't have a college degree you had no chance of getting a job.

He had great fears. I'm the only member of my family I think that doesn't have a college degree. He was very concerned he was a failure as a father, and I remember telling him, "Well, I want to be like Bill Buckley." He said, "What do you mean?" "Well, I want to be able to sit around and write and think and speak," and so forth, and my dad blew up at me. "What are you talking about?" He gave me a two-hour lecture on, "Where do you think Bill Buckley went to become what he is? Do you think Bill Buckley just sits around and writes and thinks and speaks, and people like you have this reaction to him?" I got a serious lecture on how hard and time-consuming achievement is. When you see the output of someone's work but you don't see what goes into it, you can make the mistake of assuming it comes easy to them, especially those who are great at what they do. They make it look so easy that you think you could do it, too. And you form impressions of how they do it, and you see these people on television and so forth, you really don't see any of the prep or any of the hard work that goes into the final product, and my dad was right about that.

So it wasn't until I left the formal academic setting at age 20, that I got serious about education above and beyond what I'd learned at home. I'm not just talking about politics and political things, I'd absorbed a lot of that. But I started working on my vocabulary, all of these things, trying to acquire just as much knowledge as I could. I described it in trying to imitate Mr. Buckley, thinking he would say something like this. I was reading omnivorously and voluminously, meaning anything I could get my hands on that was of interest to me. So one thing leads to another, my career spawns, it starts and stops, but eventually I got my break in Sacramento in 1988, which led to moving to Sacramento in 1984, which led to moving to New York in 1988. I had over the years developed a halfway decent, with two or three words at a time, impersonation of Bill Buckley. Bill Buckley and his books, his magazine, National Review, I thought Buckley was so unique and special that when I found out about National Review, I thought you had to be invited to read it. I didn't think anybody could. I didn't know he was writing a magazine and publishing one just for profit. I thought there was select group of people that were entitled to be part of that. I'd never seen it on a newsstand. I had never seen it anywhere at anybody's house. But I heard about it and I read about it and so forth.

So one day I called National Review in New York when I was in Sacramento. I was very sheepish, a woman answered the phone and I felt like I was calling God. I didn't ask to speak to Buckley. I said, stammering, "Can I subscribe to your magazine?" "Of course, of course. Where can we send it?" I was taken aback. I was in that much awe, is what I'm trying to say. I was as nervous making that phone call as any phone call I can remember making. So I began to subscribe to it, got a hold of more and more, continued to read his column. And of course he was one of the formative forces in my world view, political, conservative view of all things: domestic, cultural, political. My first real understanding of the concept of lowering tax rates to generate revenue came from Bill Buckley. I could cite countless other things of conservative orthodoxy. It's a shame to even attach the term conservatism to this because it's too narrow. It's just right. These are principles by which people live and order their lives, and they have been shown over the course of human history to work and to be infallible in governing people, in governing one's own affairs, leading one's own life, establishing mechanisms by which people, nations, can manage their affairs to the best of society's purposes and intents.

All of this, all of this body of thought, all of the inspiration, all of the bright lights going off in moments of just ecstatic understanding -- all due to Bill Buckley, after I had left home. When I start my radio show in New York in 1988, of course, I profusely comment on Buckley and National Review and quote him. I was invited -- I guess within the first three weeks I got to New York -- I was invited to a reception that was at the townhouse of Lewis Lehrman, and there were a number of people who worked at National Review there that afternoon. Richard Brookhiser was there, one of the editors, a number of other people, and I was a kid in a candy store, even though I am 40 years old. I feel like I'm mingling with giants, intellectual giants, people I wish I could be, people that I may not be able to be, but if I hang around 'em I'll absorb a lot from them and I'll be better than I am. To shorten this story, because I'm a little long here and I have to go to a commercial break pretty soon, I forget the year, because all these years run together. But it wasn't long after I got to New York in 1988, might have been by 1990, I received a phone call from Frances Bronson, who was Mr. Buckley's personal assistant. And if every executive could have a Frances Bronson, there would be nothing that didn't get done.

UPDATE: syndicated talker Mark Levin adds this tribute:

I never met Mr. Buckley, but I sure felt like I knew him. As a teenager, I couldn't wait for my copy of National Review to show up in the mail. And boy, did I love watching Firing Line. I didn't understand everything Mr. Buckley wrote or said at the time, but enough to know that he was right. He was an inspiration, who motivated me to read as much as I could about philosophy, economics, political science, and history. I even picked up some of his debating tactics, or at least tried to.

When I was about fourteen years old, I sent Mr. Buckley a short manuscript on conservatism. I told him I'd appreciate his input as I would like to get it published. It was a pretty bold endeavor, bordering on the silly. But the manuscript wasn't all that bad for a fourteen year old. It certainly wasn't up to Mr. Buckley's standard. Still, Mr. Buckley took time from his incredibly busy schedule to write a kind letter to me. He let me down gently, explaining that I might want to continue to my studies and give publishing another shot a few years down the road. LOL.

I wrote him a few more times back then about different issues, and he always responded with a pithy and gracious note. When I go home this evening, I will rummage through some of my old boxes in search of those letters. And I will take some time to remember not only one of the greatest and most influential thinkers of our time, but one of the kindest men, too.

Thank you, Mr. Buckley. You made a huge different not just in my life, but in the lives of so many. My prayers and sympathies to the Buckley family.

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  • Rest in peace, Mr. Buckley.

    I miss the days when there were real conservatives that one could have a RATIONAL discussion with, from which one could actually learn something, as opposed to today's neocons.

    Limpbowel isn't worthy to shine Mr. Buckley's shoes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 February, 2008 13:18  

  • Interesting to note that the Huffington Post immediately slapped a
    ban on comments for the posting on William Buckley's passing.

    "Comments for this post are now closed"

    Guess they did not want to get raked over the coals again due to the anticipated loon comments from their radicals.

    Kind of tells you something about the mindset of the rabid left.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 27 February, 2008 14:40  

  • Actually it says nothing at all, Benson.

    Many of us on the left admired, respected and revered William F. Buckley as the brilliant, thoughful and absolutely witty man he was. Mr. Buckley was a class act and, I'm sure, as disappointed and disgusted with the rank and file knuckle draggers who are heirs to the movement he helped create.

    These tributes by the tiny brained entertainers of the right are as empty as their heads. I'm sure he is,at last, enjoying a respite from the endless rattle of the empty cans who dubbed themselves conservatives. Long ago he realized that they didn't even know the meaning of the word.

    By Blogger Dave Carroll, at 27 February, 2008 16:50  

  • As a newly married couple living in Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan during the early 50's, my husband and I, both college graduates, were introduced to the NATIONAL REVIEW by friends. We argued as to which of us would first read the issue when it arrived, for Bill Buckley was teaching us that which we both realized was part of our own upbringing. Up till then, there was no name we could place upon our beliefs, but suddenly we were CONSERVATIVES, true CONSERVATIVES, and remain so to this day! We never sat down with the NATIONAL REVIEW without a dictionary on our laps, and we were amazed at the vocabulary and proper sentence formation we were reading! It was a delight to be alive then, and a pleasure to be able to be so in the forefront of the 'new' right! Thank you, Bill!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 February, 2008 19:34  

  • Carol said: "Actually it says nothing at all, Benson."

    Maybe you should put on your reading glasses. Here is the link to the post.

    As soon as it was put up, the warning was included. And it is still there.

    Comments for this post are now closed

    The zoo keepers of the Huff-Po post knew what would happen if they allowed comments, so they shut it down immediately.

    Speaks volumes about their readership.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 27 February, 2008 19:44  

  • benson

    yes Repub psychos pretending to be
    "liberals" that is why they closed it,cons are sick

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 27 February, 2008 22:18  

  • I once saw Buckley debate John Kenneth Galbraith in New Orleans - truly exciting to watch. Buckley walked up to the taller of the two podiums leaving the shorter podium to the 6'9" Galbraith. The moderator informed Buckley that Galbraith's podium was too short. Buckley replied, "That alright by the end of this debate that short podium will be plenty tall enough for Galbraith.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 February, 2008 23:09  

  • Buckley did have a GREAT persona. Heck, that icon and the SDI (Strategically Dead Icon) Ronnie Raygoon has ceased to exist, my oh my.

    Say, moi read your post ‘bout
    Ben(t) Stein funding Al Frankin. Frankin never played moi's parody "Rash Limp Pa," a.k.a, "Yankee Do Drugs," so he can go fudge himself and . . . . .
    well, well, well, (Now that’s a “Deep” subject) it appears that Ben Stein has a lill’ movie.

    I have a wee film/research too but unlike Mr. Stein mine illuminates AND entertains in about five minutes and, A-N-D, it’s FREE!

    The Jewish Mr. Stein (BTW: moi’s film/research tells how the Jewish people REALLY came about) charges you for propaganda and I give the human race knowledge for free, ain’t I an idiot? Perhaps.

    And here is moi’s, officially ignored, film/research
    into the origin of Christendom.

    Since the film is
    the awful facts it must be disregarded by those that tout
    the beautiful untruths.

    The Religious Authorities, and those that GAIN from there being religions [e.g., People in the “Business” of Atheism], always say NOT to view that which they DO want you to see and avert their eyes, and remain quite silent, about that which they hope you will not chance upon.

    Part I

    Part II

    If there were a place, and there is, where intelligence that rises little higher than our human brain stems’ capacity WERE allowed Mr. Stein WOULD be found there, hence. . .check you local theater listings for Mr. Stein and murmuring mermaids and yammering yaks - talkin’ terrorists - pontificating puppies - babbling babes – enunciating elephants – answering ants – zinging zombies - replying Rambos a al lambos – and many more such “Levels,” though a basically base intellectual strata they t’were, ‘tis and t’will be.

    However, Ben Stein is only doing exactly what moi tells people TO DO and that is,
    suck-up to the prevailing mythology in the CULTure you happen to be surrounded by.
    Hence, Ben Stein is flying first class and considering buying a private plane and moi ‘tis takin’ the bus and considering purchasing some meat, for WifeyWu, if’in moi can budget it in.

    Stay on groovin’
    (Ain’t ya glad moi didn’t alliterate from A to Z?)

    By Blogger  , at 28 February, 2008 05:31  

  • My sincere condolences to William F. Buckley’s family as well as the ones’ at the National Review.

    I didn’t always agree with Bill’s opinions, but there’s no denying that he was perhaps the most entertaining, quick witted, intelligent, and discerning editor and writer of the Conservative genre.

    I used to take great pleasure watching the way he dissected liberal opponents in debates. He would use his rapier intellect to bat them around as a cat would a ball of yarn, for amusement.

    He was a delight. He will be missed.

    RIP, Bill.

    Say hello to President Reagan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 28 February, 2008 07:12  

  • MiniProp said:

    yes Repub psychos pretending to be "liberals" that is why they closed it,cons are sick

    So, in your view, the nasty comments on HuffPo are all from masochistic "neocons" who pretend to be liberals, posting there to give all of the real liberals a bad name.

    Since the true identities of most of the commenters remain hidden, we will never know for sure, but with all of the nasty things that come out of the mouths of undeniable liberals, I would think that the vast majority of nasty comments come from the true liberals.

    By Blogger Chromium, at 28 February, 2008 09:44  

  • hash: "I miss the days when there were real conservatives that one could have a RATIONAL discussion with, from which one could actually learn something, as opposed to today's neocons."

    Oh, c'mon! After some of the stuff you spewed when sitting on one of my barstools?

    PS: Mr Maloney? You have, by this point, noticed control of AAR got sold. Why no blistering insight?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 29 February, 2008 00:30  

  • Do not insult the great WFB by suggesting that Rush could become his successor. One was an intellectual and non-conformist. The other has rarely said, written or done anything other than cling to Reagan (and now neocon) orthodoxy.

    BFB was a thinker. Rush is a regurgitator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 February, 2008 10:41  

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