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Limbaugh vs. Stern: Who's the Real Radio Star?

Each radio personality has dealt with, and overcome, adversity.

Limbaugh battled a drug addiction and bounced back after losing most of his hearing -- the latter would have been a massive news story had he leaned left, not right. And Limbaugh is currently recovering from a heart incident, which had him rushed to a Hawaii hospital after he complained of chest pains.

Stern survived the end of his long marriage, a near constant source of fodder for his program, and the shift to a pay outlet like Sirius XM satellite radio.

While both remain media fixtures, only Limbaugh seems capable of impacting the national dialogue in 2010. Stern keeps talking about retirement, all the while working less and less.

Limbaugh sat behind the golden EIB microphone on the Tuesday before Christmas, delivering fresh, fierce programming. He‘s been on fire of late, assaulting the global warming movement and President Barack Obama's health care reform with his trademark vigor. At the same time, Stern was enjoying yet another vacation, one of countless breaks he now gets during the year. And that doesn’t include the fact that he no longer works the Friday shift.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two involves their on-air principles. Stern once waged war against the likes of Chevy Chase and Rosie O’Donnell. Now, Stern is buddies with both -- Chase even attended the radio star‘s second marriage to model Beth Ostrosky. Stern once slammed Bubba the Love Sponge for stealing his act. Today the two can be heard on Howard 101, with Stern routinely praising the Florida-based talker.

Frankly, it’s hard not to wish the Stern from 1988 would come back and mock his modern-day self. He’d have plenty of material.

Limbaugh still doesn’t specifically endorse candidates in primary battles -- a governing philosophy that’s mostly unchanged since he first hit the airwaves.

Stern doesn’t seem compelled to create groundbreaking new content. Sure, he still stokes personal feuds, like his current battle against Jay Leno whom he accuses of stealing his bits.

But Stern typically lets his secondary players, from Artie Lange to audio clowns Richard Christy and Sal Governale, whip up the best new bits.

Meanwhile, Limbaugh says “bring it on” to his enemies, mocking the media which routinely takes him out of context. He even turns charges of racism on their ear, cranking out blistering bits like the song "Barack the Magic Negro" without fear and daring to discuss racial issues that could put lesser talents in hot water.

Radio still wouldn’t be the same without Stern or Limbaugh. But only Limbaugh remains a game-changing voice in this new decade.