Rush Limbaugh's wife, Kathryn, announces his death on radio show

Limbaugh known as conservative talk radio pioneer

Kathryn Limbaugh, the wife of conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh, announced his death Wednesday on his radio show to his millions of listeners. 

Limbaugh died Wednesday at 70 years old from complications of lung cancer. He first learned of his cancer diagnosis in Jan. 2020. Former President Donald Trump awarded the radio host the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly thereafter during his State of the Union Address. 

"I, like you, very much wish Rush was behind this golden microphone right now welcoming you to another exceptional three hours of broadcasting," Limbaugh's wife, Kathryn, said on his show Wednesday. "For over 32 years, Rush has cherished you, his loyal audience, and always looked forward to every single show. It is with profound sadness I must share with you directly that our beloved Rush, my wonderful husband, passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer." 

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO PIONEER, DEAD AT 70

"As so many of you know, losing a loved one is terribly difficult. Even more so when that loved one is larger than life. Rush will forever be the greatest of all time," she continued. "Rush was an extraordinary man. A gentle giant. Brilliant, quick-witted, genuinely kind, extremely generous, passionate, courageous, and the hardest-working person I know."

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh gestures as he makes remarks at the National Association of Broadcasters October 2, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh gestures as he makes remarks at the National Association of Broadcasters October 2, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Limbaugh single-handedly revolutionized the medium of talk radio, turning it into fertile ground for conservative opinion-makers who followed him. He commanded a daily audience of millions, which he last addressed on Feb. 2.

In December, Limbaugh opened up his final broadcast of 2020 by thanking his listeners and supporters for supporting him throughout his career and his health struggle. 

"My point in all of this today is gratitude," he said at the time. "My point in all of this is to say thanks and tell everybody involved how much I love you from the bottom of a sizable and growing and still-beating heart."

Limbaugh was known for his bellicose and blustering on-air persona, but he's been widely praised for his kindness to others when not behind a microphone, including by his wife Wednesday

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"Despite being one of the most recognized, powerful people in the world, Rush never let the success change his core or beliefs," Kathryn Limbaugh said. "He was polite and respectful to everyone he met. Even most recently when he was not feeling well in the hospital, he was so appreciative to every single doctor and nurse and custodian."

Fox News' Brian Flood contributed to this report.