The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 June 2008

Talk Radio Reacts To News Of Tim Russert's Sudden Passing


Talk Hosts Reflect On Legacy Of NBC's Tim Russert


The sudden and highly unexpected passing of NBC's Tim Russert has talk radio both in a state of shock and reflecting on his immense journalistic legacy.

As a result of his approach to moderating Meet The Press and position inside a network conservatives often criticize, the medium's relationship with Russert was at times bumpy, but a great deal of respect was always maintained. Watching MTP was a virtual job requirement for the nation's talkers and Monday morning recaps of the show became routine.

Because the news broke after many hosts had finished for the week (though Sean Hannity spent more than an hour talking about it), your Radio Equalizer asked several key talkers for their reactions to the news.

First up was Rush Limbaugh, who got to know Russert well over the years in a variety of settings, including as a guest on his program and a rare 2004 interview on Rush's own show.

"It's just a shame," Limbaugh told your Radio Equalizer just moments ago. "Tim was a regular guy with that perpetual smile he wore naturally all the time. He loved life and got everything he could out of it.

"He was the closest thing there was at any of the networks to an objective journalist.

"Whether it was at dinner here in Florida while his son was taking golf lessons, or on the set of Meet The Press, Tim was always the same with me: genuine. He never condescended to anyone and was the consummate professional. He will be hard to replace," Limbaugh added.

Syndicated ABC Radio talker Mark Levin also weighed in, saying "I didn't know Tim Russert personally. I used to kid about him on my show. But I, like most others, am stunned and saddened by his sudden death. I always admired his deep commitment to his family.

"He was obviously a wonderful father, son, and husband. And he wasn't afraid to show his love and affection for them. That will be his true legacy. And it is a legacy far more important than any professional or career accomplishments, of which he had many. I wish his family peace."

Westwood One host Lars Larson added: "he was a true professional and gentleman... who was always a pleasure to watch and interview."

Longtime talker Melanie Morgan, also of Move America Forward, had this to say: "America has lost a legendary figure in the worlds of politics and journalism. A fair, decent and honorable human being, Tim Russert set a standard for professionalism that few of his colleagues ever came close to matching.

"When Russert conducted an interview or reported on a story, he did so with an impartiality that would leave viewers clueless as to his personal biases. That's exactly how it should be done, and nobody did it better than Tim Russert."

Russert's relationship with talk radio was sometimes rocky, as became apparent during the infamous Don Imus "nappy-headed ho's" flap. Russert, a longtime friend of Imus, was criticized both by supporters and detractors of the I-Man, seemingly in a no-win situation.

In addition, Russert's overall standing with the medium improved markedly after an October 2007 presidential debate where, as moderator, he took Hillary Clinton to task for supporting drivers licenses for illegal aliens.

For talk radio and millions of Americans, Sunday mornings will never be same.

RUSSERT'S death used to promote Keith Olbermann? Yikes.

JOHNNY DOLLAR has a Russert roundup here

THE ANCHORESS remembers Tim

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • Very, very sad.

    He'd drive me insane at times, but I always appreciated him in the position he was in. IMHO, he was not overtly partisan, and he will be missed.

    He had a very hectic week. International air travel can be draining, media life does not lend itself to regularity in sleep or particularly healthy diets.

    RIP, Mr. Russert.

    Blessings and condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 14 June, 2008 03:47  

  • Tim did himself his family his nationality and his hometown proud.he was also a religious man and respected by those whos respect is given frugally. He is now part of history and his lessons on life are timeless and precious to those who still feel love and caring for life and its people JOE CAPRIO/ CITYLIFEPRODUCTIONS

    By Blogger CITYLIFE9, at 16 June, 2008 22:11  

  • Tim will be missed, Love to see a draft Rush for MTP, his keen insight and humor could help the Sunday news shows and his own radio program. He could do a few guest spots to test the waters

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17 June, 2008 07:54  

  • I don't know how many others heard this, but Sean Hannity announced Tim's passing about 3 or 4 minutes before the NBC special report on TV. He cited Drudge and the New York Times' reports that had come out.

    I went to Drudge and there was a short headline, then went to and it wasn't there yet, which felt kinda weird. I'm sure Sean didn't mean to "scoop" anyone, as he also said he had heard news before going on the air at 3p ET and embargoed it. He also aired the audio of Brokaw's TV special report.

    BTW, about two minutes after I first checked MSNBC's site, another check saw that it had been posted, around the time of the Brokaw announcement.

    By Blogger robwitham, at 20 June, 2008 11:27  

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