Limbaugh began his career in radio as a teenager in 1967 in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, using the name Rusty Sharpe. Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeau, Missouri Central High School, in 1969. Because of his parents' desire to see him attend college, he enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, "he flunked everything", and "he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."
Limbaugh was not drafted during the Vietnam War draft lottery, as his birth date's high rank (152) was well above the 125 rank below which service members were drafted. He was classified as "1-Y" (later reclassified "4-F") due to a Pilonidal cyst.
After dropping out of college, Limbaugh moved to McKeesport, Pennsylvania. In 1972, he became a Top 40 music disc jockey on WIXZ, a small AM radio station that reached much of the Pittsburgh area. He started with an afternoon show and later did mornings, broadcasting under the name "Jeff Christie". Limbaugh moved to Pittsburgh station KQV in 1973 as the evening disc jockey, succeeding Jim Quinn. He was fired in late-1974, when the station was sold to Taft Broadcasting. Limbaugh was reportedly told by management that he would never make it as on air talent, and should consider going into sales.