Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Christopher "Kit" Carson R.I.P.

Christopher "Kit" Carson, AKA H.R., passed away on Monday.

Carson, a Milwaukee native, was Rush Limbaugh's chief of staff.

A Huge Void in Our Hearts

RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, indulge me for just a few minutes here. We all here at the EIB Network are experiencing a huge void in all of our hearts here today because of a death, one of our staff members, the very first staff member to join me 27 years ago in New York. Christopher Carson, "Kit," my trusted chief of staff, aide-de-camp, passed away today at 8 a.m. at his home in New Jersey after what really was a four-year battle, really valiant, never-seen-anything-like-it battle with essentially brain cancer. He thought that it was beaten back two years ago, but it came back again last fall with a vengeance.

To give you an idea, December 19th, staff Christmas party, and he was fine, normal as anybody ever remembered him. Ten days ago I flew to New York to see him in the hospital, and it was the last day that he had any kind of a short-term memory at all. It was a good visit. It was a really good day. For him, too. I've always said that I wanted to be older, and I never factored something in about getting older, and that is people you know getting sick and dying. But Kit was in all ways, every way I can of think of, a special human being and person.

When the program debuted in 1988, nobody had any idea if it was gonna work. And we had made no plans initially for it to get big. It was just a radio show with a guy doing three hours on the radio and the itinerant things that happened. But it took off. It took off faster and bigger than anybody had planned. So the phone started ringing and mail started coming in, and things needed to be dealt with.

We didn't have anybody, and Ed McLaughlin, who was the syndicator of the program at the time and the founding executive of the EIB Network, had just come from ABC and knew countless people at ABC. And in our building where we were at the time, ABC staffed its magazines, such as Prairie Farmer magazine and American Homeowner, Contemporary Homeowner or something. And Ed said, "Look, I got this guy that's gonna come up from the magazine, and he's gonna answer the phones and deal with the mail. He's a good guy. He's here in New York. He's trying to become an actor, and he'll help us out here in a pinch."

I said, "Oh, okay, great, what's his name?"

He said, "Some guy, Kit Carson."

I said, "Kit Carson? Kit Carson, like the cowboy?"

"Yeah, that's what he says, Kit Carson."

Okay. So the next day in walks this guy, cargo shorts, white ankle socks, black Keds, and red hair that looks like it's got yeast in it piled so high on top of his head. I was immediately jealous, I said, "What did you do, put yeast in your hair?" He didn't know what I meant. But I spotted it immediately. He wanted to be an actor, he had a performer's ego, and he thought I was crazy. After one radio show, he thought I was crazy.

He's listening to "homeless updates" and all this stuff and he just thinks that I'm a lunatic. But he's gonna stick with it 'cause it looks like it could be fun for a while. And he said, "What do you want me to do?"

I said, "Well, when it comes to the phones ..." And I did my best to explain who I was, what I did, and what we're all trying to accomplish, and he just said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, the latest to get to New York, gonna hit it big, right, right, okay, got it, got it. What can I do?"

I said, "Well, when you're answering the phones, I want you to really learn how to do something, and I really want you to learn how to do it, and it's say, 'No.' You're gonna have people calling wanting me to do this, do that, requests for all kinds of things, and I don't care what and I don't care who, your first answer is 'no' and then you come tell me and we'll review who called and then we'll decide what to do." It's harder than you think, folks. It's easy to say "yes" to people and make friends, have a good relationship.

Saying "no" to people does not promote good friendships right off the bat. He said "no." He loved saying "no." He said, "Really, I have the power to say "no" to anybody?" I said, "Yes, you do." He started answering mail. Anyway, it just evolved to where he became the resident expert on me and the program. He became its number-one champion, defender, evangelist, and, of course, he ended up doing much more than -- well, he never stopped saying "no." That job remained as important 27 years later as it was that first day. He enjoyed it as much as ever, except the people calling later on were like from the White House and Good Morning America and the Today Show, and he still said "no" and then came and told me about it.

Fifty-eight years old. He arrived around age 30 or 31, grew up in Milwaukee. He was insistent, you know, when he introduced himself to people, "Yeah, I'm Kit Carson," and he assumed everybody thought that meant he'd be related to the famous cowboy character, Kit Carson, so he told everyone, "Yeah, my name is really Kit Carson."

So the first time I had to write him a check, forget what it was for, I made it out to Kit Carson. He brought it back and said, "The bank won't accept it."

I said, "Why?"

He said, "'Cause this isn't my name."

I said, "What, you've been telling me for two years --"

"It's Christopher." Okay. So I rewrote the check, but he always remained "Kit." He was Kit to everybody that knew him. He was Kit to his family. He was Kit, dad to his teenaged sons, Jesse and Jack, wife Theresa. It's such a void because he loved this job. He loved being here. He loved being part of it every day.
God be with Kit's wife and sons, his colleagues, his friends, and his family.

Rest in peace, H.R.


Death notice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 29, 2015.

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