Getting fired from any job is unpleasant. However, if you get canned from Walmart, 100,000 people aren’t going to hear about it that morning. But, when you’re shown the door in the radio business, you can bet word will get around—fast.
Veteran talker Ryan Wrecker said that growing up in Detroit, he recalls one of his favorite programs, The Drew and Mike Show, learning of their imminent departure amid an air shift.
“I’ll never forget hearing that show,” Wrecker said, who happened to be monitoring the station at the time. “All the local TV stations were reporting that the station hired a new morning show while the show was on the air. Drew told his audience ‘The show is not a charity. If they don’t want me around, then they don’t have to be forced to pay me.”
Wrecker was a loyal listener of the show and said he recorded a lot of them. “The Drew and Mike Show was legendary in Detroit. I guess they were a Zoo format, but a little different.”
Drew Lane still does a podcast today, and his numbers are fantastic.
“Drew is one of the greatest personalities I’ve ever listened to,” Wrecker said. “Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but I was learning so much from him.” His co-host Mike passed away a few years ago. They had immense ratings success, Detroit’s most listened to program.
Wrecker said he was one of those kids who had the Fisher-Price cassette recorder and listened to WRIF in Detroit when he was ten. Detroit is his home. He attended Central Michigan, which Wrecker calls one of the best radio programs in the state.
“It was one of those curricula that let you in when you were a freshman,” Wrecker said. “Michigan State also had a good program, but you really couldn’t get deep into practice and production until your junior year. I knew as a freshman specifically what I wanted to do, and that was broadcasting.”
There are many benefits to going into the program immediately as a freshman.
“You get your hands-on experience, going into everything raw. You can make your mistakes early on, and nobody notices. The best part is you don’t get punished for your mistakes.”
“I was able to get my reps in; at the same time, I could learn in a more natural way. Not so much coaching but trial and error. You’re doing what you’ve heard, mimicking people you fell in love with on the air. I don’t think listeners really get how much work goes into the job. You might not sound like the person you were emulating, but there’s always more work to do.”
After college, Wrecker joined a classic rock station in Lima, Ohio. WUZZ.
He started with an afternoon shift, then moved to mid-day and eventually mornings. Like most things in radio, a lot of his career began with a seismic shift in the landscape.
“We had a syndicated show out of Grand Rapids, and the decision was made to go local,” Wrecker explained. “They had me program the station and move to mornings. It was a four-hour solo show. I’d do three talk segments in an hour and play lots of music. It became quite a ratings success.”
Tiny Lima, Ohio, has experienced more than its share of notoriety.
The television show GLEE was fictionally based in Lima. The town kept sending the production team props from Lima to be used in the show.
“If a radio station sent them a sticker, it would end up on the bumper of a car in the show,” Wrecker said. “The town had a local contestant on So, You Think You Can Dance. I guess it’s a pretty popular small town. We did a charity bike run with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister in 2010 for the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies Ride. We actually changed the named Cridersville to Snidersville for a day. It was awesome. Dee came in for a few days, he actually co-hosted the morning show with me, and we played heavy metal and hair all morning.”
I started out this piece referring to how people can get fired from doing something they love, and after a while, that can be rather devastating. In May, Wrecker was released from KMOX in St. Louis. When I asked him if he held any animosity toward the station that fired him, I was surprised when he said he didn’t.
“I didn’t take it personally when I got fired from KMOX,” Wrecker said. “I had a feeling things were not going right. The station was moving in a different direction and is in a transformation. Knowing this, I tried to move to a better fitting job in the cluster, which ultimately didn’t happen.”
I know it’s smart not to bite the hand that either feed or fed you, as you don’t want to look like ‘that guy.’ However, if you bad-mouth a station, there’s a 100 percent chance every other station will hear about it.
“KMOX has such a great history,” Wrecker continued. “They have always had a vision as to where the station was going.”
For now, Wrecker is filling in for station hosts where he can, a hired gun, so to speak, at least on the firing range he loves. Until the new job offer, it’s one day at a time.
“I’d love to be a permanent host, for sure,” Wrecker said. “I’m still trying to figure out what that gig looks like. The way the talk landscape is today, I may be waiting a long time. I’m at the mercy of someone leaving a job, maybe starting that big talk gig in the sky.”
I focused on Wrecker’s recent fill-in gig in Milwaukee only because that was his most recent job. I asked Wrecker how he keeps word out there that he’s available.
“I got in touch with Ryan Maguire, the director of content at WTMJ in Milwaukee,” Wrecker said. This was earlier in the year after KMOX.
“He said they didn’t have anything but to send my tape. I sent him a couple of talk segments I’d done.”
Maguire liked the tapes enough to move the discussion ‘upstairs’ to Steve Wexler, WTMJ’s vice president, and market manager. They agreed to bring Wrecker in for some fill-in work in early August.
Maguire told Wrecker to ‘be himself.’ He knew what Wrecker sounded like, and knew he’d be a good fit for Milwaukee, as long as he did that.
“That doesn’t mean I couldn’t fill in for someone I really wasn’t a good fit with. Either way, I’m not going to change too much about the show.”
As the stations will do, WTMJ paid for everything during Wrecker’s fill-in period. They put him up at the boutique hotel. He was issued an Uber account to get back and forth from the hotel to the studios.
“I got meal gift cards from Mo’s Steakhouse,” he said. “You tend to eat well every night, but you’ve got to be careful you don’t eat too much and pay for it on the air the next morning.”
In Milwaukee in August, it is almost a requirement to hit the Wisconsin State Fair. Wrecker did. “You’ve got to have self-control when you go there. It’s a whole different type of food. Much of it is fried and on a stick.”
I wondered how a fill-in host prepares for a show in a town they’re not overly familiar with. Or at least a place you haven’t visited in a while.
“You’ve got to realize you’re not an expert on the city you’re going to,” Wrecker explained. “You do have to conduct some research. Perhaps get a better idea of how to pronounce nearby city names. Bone up on news that has affected that area. With Milwaukee, I was able to talk about the freshly announced Republican National Convention coming to the city in 2024.”
Being more selective with your topics is part of Wrecker’s thinking. He said the RNC story was more universal, but you must keep your eye on the local news.
“I don’t want to go into a city and try to sound like I know everything. The audience can tell if you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t feel comfortable with handling a story, omit it. The audience may question why you’re not talking about certain things. I think that’s better than spouting off about something I don’t really know.”
Wrecker said listeners would be forgiving if you make a mistake, but they can correct you if they feel they should.
“But they don’t hate you for the mistake,” Wrecker said. “I’ll try some calls if the lines are open. In my experience, that hasn’t been a problem. When you fully know a topic, it’s okay to open the phones. Even in Milwaukee, I knew I could talk about the FBI going into Mar-a-Lago. Of course, people were talking about it non–stop. Then there are topics where I can see both sides. I like to get calls that offer different viewpoints. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But if you’re onto something, you’ve got to prime the pump like crazy.”
Wrecker has learned part of his success has included making himself somewhat of a target on the air.
“I can maneuver a topic, make myself the good guy or bad guy on a subject. An audience will have a certain feeling about you and your stance. They’ll try to find a way to feel something about you. I may come in and tell the audience what a cheapskate I am, just to get the juices flowing. It might be funny, it might be tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a connection with them in some way.”
He said he’s always authentic, but Wrecker will certainly try to exaggerate things to make it funnier.
“I think to myself what can I do to make a situation more entertaining? For example, I might tell a story where it’s not technically the exact way it happened, but I don’t let the audience know. I think they can tell when I’m making something up or doing a bit. They understand I’m trying to open things up.”
Constant moving in the business clearly strains emotions and family life.
“When you have a family and kids, making more money is always appealing, Wrecker said. “It’d be nice not to have to worry about money. I feel bad for my wife and the prospect of moving again. I have two kids, and I don’t like to think of them having to make new friends. It’s not appealing. You start to think there must be a more stable way to handle those things.”
I asked Wrecker if there was a possibility to go into management and give up the microphone.
“It’s not far-fetched to see me going that route. When I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I had a GM that wasn’t that good,” Wrecker said. “In a way, that spoiled me for future GMs. The hard part about programming is you become so obsessed with the station and the product. It becomes an around-the-clock job. Sometimes it’s not sustainable.”
If he was programming his station, Wrecker said a PD must have intuition, a barometer of what works, and perhaps a small crystal ball.
“You can’t manufacture a successful team,” Wrecker said. “All you can do is bring people to the same table and hope for the best. You can’t force it. If it doesn’t happen organically, it probably isn’t going to happen.”
But how can you know? If only there were a clever way to determine if a team could work well together.
“I think they should hold auditions the way they handle speed-dating,” Wrecker said. “Let them meet and talk for 10 minutes at a pop, then move to the next table. See if they have any chemistry.”
I would be surprised if Fox weren’t working on that show at this moment.
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has also served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his book: On Story Parkway: Remembering Milwaukee County Stadium, available on Amazon, email email@example.com.
More Than 11 Million Watched Queen Elizabeth Funeral Coverage
For the 6:00 AM to noon Eastern period, Fox News was, by far, tops on cable with 1.97 million total viewers including 298,000 within the key 25-54 demographic. CNN’s morning ratings received a hefty boost from its normal levels, averaging 1.52 million viewers.
The state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II was the top news story for the week ending Sep. 25. Like her coronation back in 1952, the event for Britain’s highest-ranking monarch was it’s first in the modern era since the dawn of television.
According to Nielsen Media Research, 11.4 million Americans tuned in on the morning of Sep. 19 across the thirteen outlets televising the funeral. That figure is slightly above the combined audiences for the main morning news programs on broadcast and cable.
For the 6:00 AM to noon Eastern period, Fox News was, by far, tops on cable with 1.97 million total viewers including 298,000 within the key 25-54 demographic. CNN’s morning ratings received a hefty boost from its normal levels, averaging 1.52 million viewers and a mere 4,000 shy of FNC’s 25-54 demo. MSNBC (991,000 total, 106,000 adults 25-54 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.) also drew above-average numbers in the morning.
At the peak of coverage, within the 11:00 AM-Noon ET hour (4-5 p.m. in London) for the funeral service, it was CNN on top within the key 25-54 demo (404,000; +51,000 from FNC) but FNC led in overall viewership (2.4 million; +326,000 from CNN). MSNBC trailed with 1.1 million viewers and 115,000 adults 25-54.
On the broadcast networks, NBC edged out ABC by 3 percent — each of them drew around 3 million total viewers in that 11 a.m. hour. (Note: these figures mimic what they normally do for Today and Good Morning America per day).
Newsmax drew 192,000 viewers and NewsNation posted 32,000 — again, on-par with their respective morning ratings.
Of course, these amounts pale in comparison to the TV audiences in the Queen’s homeland of the United Kingdom. According to its data service BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board), an average of at least 27 million people had watched, of which the vast majority (approximately 70 percent) tuned in to BBC1’s coverage. At its peak, it generated a 95 share, meaning 95 percent of all televisions turned on within the UK territories had the funeral on their screens.
Cable news averages for September 19-25, 2022:
Total Day (Sep. 19-25 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.440 million viewers; 206,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.844 million viewers; 82,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.603 million viewers; 116,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.163 million viewers; 50,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.155 million viewers; 33,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.121 million viewers; 33,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.121 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.115 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (Sep. 19-24 @ 8-11 p.m.; Sep. 25 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.155 million viewers; 281,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.251 million viewers; 110,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.674 million viewers; 132,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.188 million viewers; 20,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.178 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.167 million viewers; 46,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.158 million viewers; 56,000 adults 25-54
- NewsNation: 0.046 million viewers; 8,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.043 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/20/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.678 million viewers
2. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 9/19/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.582 million viewers
3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.348 million viewers
4. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.226 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/20/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.208 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 9/22/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.150 million viewers
7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.076 million viewers
8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/22/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.001 million viewers
9. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 9/20/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.918 million viewers
10. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 9/23/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.906 million viewers
35. State Funeral Queen E II “Committal Service St Georges Chapel” (CNN, Mon. 9/19/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 2.074 million viewers
29. Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC, Wed. 9/21/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.276 million viewers
188. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 613” (HBO, Fri. 9/23/2022 10:00 PM, 57 min.) 0.879 million viewers
332. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 9/25/2022 11:21 PM, 32 min.) 0.523 million viewers
337. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sun. 9/25/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.516 million viewers
395. Kudlow (FBN, Wed. 9/21/2022 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.398 million viewers
397. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 9/20/2022 11:00 PM, 33 min.) 0.395 million viewers
439. Forensic Files “Jean Pool” (HLN, Tue. 9/20/2022 12:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.325 million viewers
517. Closing Bell (CNBC, Wed. 9/21/2022 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.260 million viewers
750. Newsnation Prime (NWSN, Sat. 9/24/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.158 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/20/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.490 million adults 25-54
2. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.476 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/20/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.468 million adults 25-54
4. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.467 million adults 25-54
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.457 million adults 25-54
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/22/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.440 million adults 25-54
7. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 9/22/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.408 million adults 25-54
8. State Funeral Queen E II “Committal Service St Georges Chapel” (CNN, Mon. 9/19/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.404 million adults 25-54
9. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 9/19/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.388 million adults 25-54
10. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Wed. 9/21/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.387 million adults 25-54
76. All In with Chris Hayes (MSNBC, Wed. 9/21/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.226 million adults 25-54
109. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 9/25/2022 11:21 PM, 32 min.) 0.187 million adults 25-54
168. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 9/20/2022 11:00 PM, 33 min.) 0.143 million adults 25-54
173. Forensic Files “Traffic Violations” (HLN, Tue. 9/20/2022 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.139 million adults 25-54
182. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 613” (HBO, Fri. 9/23/2022 10:00 PM, 57 min.) 0.136 million adults 25-54
225. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sun. 9/25/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.121 million adults 25-54
317. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 1020” (CNBC, Tue. 9/20/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.096 million adults 25-54
534. Kudlow (FBN, Wed. 9/21/2022 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.058 million adults 25-54
912. Newsnation Prime (NWSN, Sat. 9/24/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.022 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Douglas Pucci is a Bronx native and NYU graduate analyzing news television ratings for Barrett News Media. He did an internship at VH1’s “Pop Up Video” in 1997. After college, Pucci went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City. He has worked alongside media industry observer Marc Berman for over a decade reporting on all things television, first at Cross MediaWorks from 2011-15 then at Programming Insider since 2016. Pucci also contributed to the sports website Awful Announcing. Read more: https://programminginsider.com/author/douglas/
Dave Ramsey Never Wanted To ‘Do Radio’
That is the legacy, to date, of The Ramsey Show and Ramsey Solutions, which has helped people get out of debt and become financially independent for 30 years.
You can touch a lot of lives in the course of the day if your goal when waking up is to help and serve as many people as possible. And you can help, counsel, motivate and love untold numbers of people when you build a team to share that aim, and you do so for nearly 11,000 days. That is the legacy, to date, of The Ramsey Show and Ramsey Solutions, founded by Dave Ramsey, which has helped people get out of debt and become financially independent for 30 years.
Last week, the show released a bonus episode on YouTube and podcast, with the current team of Ramsey personalities reminiscing with their leader, Dave Ramsey, on the evolution of the program, and its mission, over the last three decades.
The show began 30 years ago when Dave Ramsey made a guest appearance on a friend’s real estate program on a local Nashville radio station. The host of the show quit shortly thereafter, and Ramsey was asked if he wanted to take over the time slot.
“I’m not doing radio,” Ramsey said at the time. “Radio people don’t get paid nothing. They’re like bankers – big egos and titles and no money. I need money. I am broke, my kids are hungry. I am not doing this.” Ramsey had just gone through bankruptcy, after watching his personal real estate empire crumble, leaving his family in financially dire straits. He had emerged with the goal of helping others avoid the pitfalls and pain he had brought on himself.
Eventually, Ramsey agreed to host the radio show a couple of days a week as a way to promote his self-published book, Financial Peace, which he was promoting and selling out of the trunk of his car. Ramsey said the awful Money Game program was “hillbilly, red-neck radio.” In time, Ramsey took over the program on his own and re-branded it The Dave Ramsey Show, based largely on the example laid out by other top radio stars, such as Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
“We shifted everything to Dave Ramsey, branding off the single person brand. And then everything drove through that brand,” Ramsey recalls. “That focus is what helped us move everything. Events, books, website started working. It was in the early days of the web.”
About fifteen years ago, the brand began to look toward the future, branching out to include multiple personalities and building an eventual succession plan.
“In my mid-40’s I said this thing’s not going to outlive me if we don’t decide how we’re going to carry the message in the next generation,” Ramsey said. “As we started thinking about that we said well, we don’t really say anything that’s unique. Lots of people have said, live on less than you make, get on a budget. You know, lots of articles that were boring, written by boring financial people.
“The only thing that’s unique is that we actually love the people. We actually care about people, and we actually help them. We’ve got compassion for them and we’re sassy and smart-aleck and funny and tell stories and entertain and convince them in the midst of that to go through their transformation. So we realized at that point that the business, the whole thing we built, would just die with me if we didn’t have other people that could do the same thing.”
Enter new personalities, such as those who appeared with Ramsey on the special 30th Anniversary episode – his daughter, Rachel Cruze, Ken Coleman, Dr. John Delony, George Kamal and Kristina Ellis.
When listeners visit the Ramsey Solutions headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, they are greeted like friends, with Janelle graciously checking them in and offering them a cookie and cup of coffee. Over three decades, the radio program – like the brand itself – has become much more than a radio show about money.
“I would say it’s a place that people call in with their questions about their life, and it’s more heavily geared towards money. But yeah, it’s just a couple people sitting in a radio studio, friends, and taking people’s calls.” Cruze said.
“We’re kind of diving into whatever mess is going on in life and going, here’s how we can help,” Kamel interjected.
The program has evolved into areas such as relationships, boundaries, career growth, mental health, college planning and small business building.
“The pressure for someone to call in live on the air and talk to somebody, that’s a terrifying proposition for a lot of people, so there’s that,” said Coleman, who focuses heavily on his role as a career coach. “And then they’re dealing with something where they go, I feel like I need a breakthrough. And so, regardless of the topic, like Rachel said, it’s just a real person with a real struggle who needs real help.”
In addition to the flagship Ramsey Show, many of the personalities now also host individual podcasts, which focus on their specific areas of expertise. And during this special anniversary episode, the hosts recalled some of the more memorable calls they’ve taken on the air. From the hilarious to the emotional, Ramsey and his co-hosts have tackled it all on the air over the years.
The man planning to get out of debt.
The war vet dealing with PTSD.
The college student searching for Biblical principles for handling money.
The millionaire developing a plan to become incredibly generous.
The main considering installing a pay phone in his home.
The brother forming a business partnership with his sibling.
The frightened mother cowering in a back room, hiding from her angry and violent spouse.
“I remember the first couple of calls I took on my podcast, and it came out organically. My first response to their question was, why are you calling me? That’s a huge thing. Why haven’t you called your friends or your pastor or your family members?” Dr. Delony recalled. “And to a person every response was, dude I got nobody. Like, you’re the only person to call. And so if you’d have asked me right when I was starting, what is the role of the show, how do I explain it? I would have said it’s a show people call about life.
“Now I think my answer would be different. It’s – We’ll Be There. When you’ve got nobody, we’ll be honest with you. And we’ll tell you what we think. We think we’re pretty smart. We think we know what we’re talking about, but we’ll be honest with you.”
In many respects, the Ramsey Show has become a place where callers can talk about subjects they may not even feel comfortable discussing with their own friends and family. After all, money conversations can be sensitive.
“I also think it’s just like a safe space. These topics we talk about, sometimes there’s a stigma around them. People feel shame and they feel intimidated to talk to their friends and family. It’s like this is a spot where we’re comfortable with this,” Ellis said. “You can bring us your ugly stuff. You can bring us the things that you don’t want to mention to anyone else and we’ll work through it.”
It’s a long way from the “awful, hillbilly program” on local Nashville radio. But through constant growth and evolution of the program and the organization, the company has helped countless people around the country and around the world. And judging by the trajectory, this group plans to help a whole lot more over the coming decades.
“The thing is when you tell people the truth about how to get a job, or the truth about, here’s how you do this relationship, or the truth about what you got to do with your money, they hear it even if they don’t like it,” Ramsey summed up. “Truth has a way of getting to you. And they know you love them. And we love them. We care about them.”
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
The Two Americas and the One Thing
Red – blue. Liberal – conservative. Republican – Democrat. No matter how you say it, the divisions run deep. More than ever, it seems there are two Americas.
Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. used the phrase “two Americas” in a 1967 speech. North Carolina Senator Johnathon Edwards made two Americas the theme of his 2004 run for president.
Not since the Civil War has America been as divided as today.
Red – blue. Liberal – conservative. Republican – Democrat. No matter how you say it, the divisions run deep. More than ever, it seems there are two Americas.
Can the two Americas agree on anything?
As I’ve come to understand that gender is fluid, America is “systemically racist,” and not all lives matter – and people can get fired for saying they do – it is hard to imagine ANYTHING on which the two Americas agree.
Fortunately, I receive a weekly email from Edison Research. One of which set me straight. There is at least ONE THING that the two Americas have in common. And it’s a podcast.
Data from Edison Research’s Podcast Metrics is fascinating. Before revealing what the two Americas have in common, let’s examine the differences in Republican and Democrat podcast listening habits.
Self-identified Democrats are more likely to listen to podcasts monthly than those who say they are Republicans by 41% to 36%. Intuitively, this finding makes sense as we dig deeper into the results. Republicans are probably listening to more Talk Radio, though the data provided doesn’t explicitly state this.
Edison Research notes, “when it comes to podcasts about politics, Edison Podcast Metrics shows wildly different listening patterns depending on which party one prefers.”
Eight of the top 20 podcasts among Republicans are political. Democrats, on the other hand, place only three podcasts that are political or deal with political topics in their top 20.
Republican podcast listening is more focused on politics, while Democrats have a wider range of podcast interests that make up their top 20 podcasts. Make of that what you will. Further, several of the leading podcasts among Republicans are available on the radio. This finding suggests a few possibilities:
- Republican listeners are giving up time spent listening to the radio for podcasts and whatever financial implications that means
- They can’t get enough of their favorite conservative talk hosts, listening to their shows over again
- They are listening to other programming that is not available in their market or when they are not able to listen (possibly even because they are listening to another show)
In the last two cases, the podcast is effectively a DVR.
Edison Research created the graphic below, which shows the overall rank of political podcasts or ones that touch on political topics separated by self-identified Democrats and Republicans.
Here we see the ONE THING that Democrats and Republicans have in common: “The Joe Rogan Experience” is the most listened to podcast regardless of major party affiliation.
What makes Joe Rogan bridge red and blue America is beyond the scope of the research. Therefore, we can only speculate why Rogan appeals to podcast listeners who belong to both political parties. Responses from long-time, regular Joe Rogan listeners, are welcome and appreciated.
Marshall McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message.” Once in a generation, a broadcaster becomes bigger than the medium. Howard Stern did for over a decade. Football broadcasts earn this stature every week. Has Rogan achieved that status, or does he still fall short of this description even with the ability to cross the aisle? If Rogan has reached that level, he is the first podcaster to do so.
Edison Research co-founder and president Larry Rosin shared additional insights telling me, “Rogan’s reach is 50% higher among Republicans, but he still leads with Democrats. That’s how far ahead of the field he is.” However, Rogan doesn’t lead across the board. He isn’t first among women. Rogan does win virtually every male demo, including 55+.
The Edison Research email also breaks down the data to reveal which show (among the larger ones) has the highest proportion of its audience that is Republican: “The Michael Knowles Show” (from the Daily Wire). The show with the highest Democrat composition is “Lovett or Leave it” (from Crooked Media).
I’ve never met or communicated with Joe Rogan. I don’t know his goals and ambitions, but America is looking for a leader who crosses partisan lines. If Rogan doesn’t care to lead and avoids stepping into a partisan mess, he could help the country. At the very least, he could develop an even larger mass audience.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.