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Tech, meds keep Limbaugh talking

Syndicated radio star Rush Limbaugh will stay on the air with technical aids and anti-arthritic medication as doctors continue to treat his sudden hearing loss.

During a Thursday morning press conference to discuss Limbaugh's condition, attending specialist Dr. Antonio De La Cruz of the House Ear Clinic and Institute in Los Angeles called the radio host's inner ear infection an "uncommon" auto-immune arthritic infection. De La Cruz said Limbaugh's condition was being treated with a combination of steroids and drugs to combat rheumatoid arthritis "in the hopes that we can reverse it."

Some response to treatment is hoped for with four to eight weeks, but De La Cruz said transplant surgery was a possibility if medication and hearing aids didn't help. Limbaugh is wearing hearing aids on both ears while wearing headphones on air.

Limbaugh's producers are providing verbal cues about callers that he can pick up in his partly functional right ear. The cues are mosly verbs, such as "angry," indicating the caller's mood, according to Kraig Kitchen, president/COO, Premiere Radio Networks, who reports the system includes a computer screen that flashes color codes to convey callers' moods or attitudes.

Kitchen emphasized Limbaugh's "commitment" to staying on air and fulfilling his current contract, which runs through 2009.

Meanwhile, Don Imus renewed the deal for the simulcast of his Imus in the Morning radio show on MSNBC in a multi-year pact. - Richard Tedesco