MINOT, N.D. -- In June 2006, I was sitting in a Perkins restaurant having a late lunch with a friend when my phone went out of control.
It was buzzing and beeping and ringing incessantly. While at first, I ignored it, I eventually broke out of my conversation to see what was going on, worried that something terrible had happened.
What happened wasn't terrible.
It was Rush Limbaugh.
He had mentioned on his radio show something I wrote on SayAnythingBlog.com.
My phone was exploding with messages from friends and family and readers all over the country who had heard it.
When I got home from lunch, I discovered that the blog was offline, crushed under a spike in traffic. A frustrating development, since you want to be online when a national figure like Limbaugh sends thousands of visitors your way.
At the time, the blog was going on three years old, and I was operating on a shoestring budget scraped together on the meager revenues of a few banner ads.
I couldn't afford, on a month-to-month basis, the sort of web hosting it takes to handle a Limbaugh-sized audience.
Still, that was a pivotal moment in my career. When I started in late 2003, blogging was a hobby for me — a fun way to explore and understand current events. By 2006, with readership growing, I had begun to realize I was kind of good at it, but I still wasn't convinced it would ever be anything more than something I did in my spare time.
Then Rush Limbaugh, a man I had grown up listening to in the car with my parents, somehow found a thing I wrote and considered it worthy of touting to his national audience of millions.
Suddenly, bigger things seemed possible.
Suddenly, friends and family, who I suspect thought the whole blogging thing a little silly, started looking at me differently.
It's fair to say that Limbaugh changed the trajectory of my life. If he hadn't mentioned my post that day, I'm not sure I would have kept at it, and you probably wouldn't be reading this column.
There are a lot of people working in politics and the media these days, especially from the Republican/conservative perspective, who have similar stories. It's hard to overstate the man's importance to the conservative movement. For a long time, conservatives looking for a right-of-center perspective on the news of the day had nowhere else to go but his omnipresent, mid-day show.
His is an enormous talent, deployed with savvy and humor, and a willingness to speak hard truths. That he also sometimes descended into the puerile, that he displayed a propensity to become almost a caricature of himself, only showed that he was human.
I was stricken by the news of Limbaugh's illness. With his energy and his optimism, it didn't seem like he would ever have to quit. Perhaps it is the product of middle age. I'm no longer the 20-something upstart I was when Limbaugh crashed my website for me.
Now I'm closing in on the dreaded 40.
Still, I look at Limbaugh's life, and I find solace. With hard work and prodigious talent, he ascended to heights of success and influence achieved by few others working in his medium. However you feel about his politics, what he did with little more than his voice and a newspaper is both astounding and inspiring,
An example to the rest of us of what can be achieved through hard work and tenacity.
Good luck, Rush. And thank you.
To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Listen to his Plain Talk Podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RobPort.