Tonight I want to express my gratitude to Michael Harrison and everyone at Talkers who keep this industry informed and on its toes month after month with humor and substance. I also want to thank Mark Masters and the folks at Talk Radio Network who believed in my radio vision five years ago when few others did. My gratitude also goes out to my producers, including Tom Elliott who is here today, as well as the radio giants such as Rush, Don Imus, Sean Hannity and Phil Boyce who gave me great support along the way.
And of course, I want to thank my advertisers who put their money where my mouth is.
Whoops-I almost forgot to thank those cherished TV network execs at NBC and CBS who fired me all those years ago. Without them I would never have gotten into radio in the first place.
I would be remiss were I not to acknowledge every woman who was the first in her field ... for having the courage to go where no woman had gone before. I think of Dr. Laura, busting through the walls of radio syndication. I think of Kay Koplowitz who founded USA Networks. And, believe it or not, I even think of Hillary Clinton in her run for the presidency. No matter what anyone thinks of her-and remember, this is coming from the author of a book entitled "The Hillary Trap"-no one can deprive her of well-earned recognition for the tenacity and single-mindedness she demonstrated in this long primary season ... not to mention the pantsuit color variety she maintained.
Seriously, all of these women in their own ways, with their own styles, persevered in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, constant criticism, and malicious gossip. At one time or another, they have been dismissed as shrews and harpies for simply being as determined as their male counterparts.
These women all distinguished themselves; not because they are women, but because they brought something unique to the marketplace that the people were obviously hungering for. Long before Dr. Phil, there was Dr. Laura with her zippy format and tough love. Long before Oprah, there was Barbara Walters, who could make even the coolest celebrities cry.
As for me, I am humbled and privileged to lead a radio show where I put my mind and heart on the line every day. When I told a radio executive seven years ago what I wanted to do with my new show's format (with sound and music and my on-air producer), he looked at me, shook his head, and said, "I don't get it. What's your '-ist.'?" "I said what?" He said, "I mean, are you the hippest? Funniest? Harshest?" My producer and I later joked that we aspired only to be the smelliest hosts in the business.
By the way, I bumped into that former program director recently-and I asked him whether he ever figured out what his "ist" was. We both laughed.
Of course when I think of women who had their share of detractors but who always held firm in their core principles and transformed the world, I think of Margaret Thatcher.
On the meaning of success, she said this: "I think it's a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, and knowing that you have got to work hard and with a certain sense of purpose."
For me, the sense of purpose that Thatcher spoke of goes beyond advocating conservative ideals, to something far more transcendent. Now I see purpose in the eyes of a beautiful three-year-old little girl whom I spent years attempting to adopt. Last month, I was blessed to fly to Guatemala to finally pick her up and bring her home. Three days later, I was back behind the microphone. I couldn't wait to return to the airwaves, to share this news with my extended family-the same people who sustained me as I worked through chemotherapy. That same audience has cheered me on through the good times and bad; together we have literally laughed and cried together over the years. And I am very thankful for and protective of that special relationship.
At the risk of being too sappy, I see these trials that I never wished upon myself as a great gift. It is through these difficulties that I was confirmed in my faith and reminded of God's enduring love for each of us. To be able to share this perspective-beyond the fleeting observations on the headlines of the day-has been, I hope, my greater contribution to radio.
Every day my whole team and I are honored to continue this important conversation about America, our families, and our culture. We are on this precious earth for a very short period of time. A blink of an eye.
As President Reagan said to me the day I walked out of the Oval Office for the last time as a young 20-something, "Make it matter."
I intend on doing just that for years to come on the airwaves. And I thank you for the encouragement of this honor and I promise to make you proud.
Thank you very much.