About an hour ago, national news media announced, and his wife confirmed, that Rush Limbaugh lost his battle with cancer today at the age of 70.

Much more will be said in the coming days. But I wanted to recognize the impact that Rush had on not only radio, but the natural outgrowths of blogging and social media.

The first time I heard Rush was on a family car trip. I know we were on the east coast, so he was already syndicated. I’m guessing the summer of 1988 or 1989. My schoolteacher parents were libertarian and conservative respectively, and they found him fascinating. I was an Alex P. Keaton, Reagan Republican at the time, and loved it.

I next heard rush while working on my Senior project at Auburn a few years later. My classmate, who would turn into my first post-college roommate, was a listener. Maybe he was on the Columbus, Georgia station at the time… I know it was an AM station and we strained to listen.

My first job out of college was on-the-road, and I listened to Rush often in the rental car. Although I agreed with him more often than not, it was his ability to frame and tell the story that really kept me listening. His very deliberate way of conveying a point trained an entire generation of politicos on the art of persuasion. I’ve used some of his mannerisms in my field very successfully.

I found his show, in later life, to be more sharp and combative than I was ready to digest. But I still listened occasionally, and admire the commercial and cultural impact he had on the United States. I never found myself very far from most of his positions.

Peach Pundit would not have existed without Rush. Redstate, too. In fact, it was Rush’s very success that propelled the political conversation online and, in some ways, led to the beautiful, dysfunctional mess we have now.

Rush’s passing will, I believe, accentuate the free speech conversation that has started in our country. And that’s a good thing, no matter what you believe about his policy positions.