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Rich Zeoli Strives to Develop a One-One Experience With Listeners

Turning on the microphone at dawn, Rich Zeoli likes to think he’s talking to one person and wants to connect with the guy driving to work, who’s still groggy.

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Acting isn’t all that different from politics or functioning as a talk radio host. Rich Zeoli said Washington is full of actors–they’re just not as pretty as thespians on television or in the movies.

Zeoli caught the acting bug early. ‘Working the boards’ as a youth. He did whatever was called upon to make the character resonate.

“I wore a coconut bra in South Pacific,” Zeoli confessed. I think it’s in the Smithsonian now.”

Now that’s a guy who is dedicated to the craft.

Zeoli always wanted to be an actor (preferably roles without the coconuts.) One day he came to a stark realization of the difference between an actor and a pizza; a pizza could feed a family of four.

“It got to a point where I didn’t see a future in acting,” Zeoli said. The wannabe actor said he was too aware of the dim chances of success to make a commitment. 

“I guess I was concerned about taking a leap in such a competitive industry such as acting.”

Zeoli also tried his luck with comedy. “My father was very supportive. He drove me to the improvisational classes. I have the greatest respect for standups. I got to a point where I decided I couldn’t do that for a living.”

He may not have pursued comedy, but the guy is funny.

“I saw Bill O’Reilly at the Talkers 2022 recently. He was wearing khakis. He had his legs crossed, which revealed his socks. They ran way up on his leg. All I could think of was he looked like every dad on parent’s weekend.” 

I caught up with Zeoli while he was vacationing in Tupper Lake, New York, within the Adirondack Mountains. Just a couple of hours south of the Canadian Border.

“I just came out of the grocery store, and I think I spotted the cast of Deliverance, Zeoli jokes. “I’m supposed to be on vacation, but I can’t resist sending a tweet now and again. For the most part, I’ve shut everything else down.”

A family vacation is a chance for him to hang out on the dock with his kids and do a little fishing. “We caught some but threw them all back,” Zeoli said. “With the exception of one perch. We ate that one.”

His wife is from Tupper Lake, and Zeoli said they make the trip regularly from Philadelphia for a family reunion. “She was born here. It’s very beautiful.”

Zeoli was born on Long Island and grew up in New Jersey. 

At ten years of age, Zeoli was already interested in politics and became a student council member. He was so into politics that his friends called him Alex P. Keaton, the fictitious character on the 80s sitcom Family Ties. 

“I actually put a photo of Ronald Reagan on my desk as a joke,” Zeoli said.

“I guess I was always pretty likable,” Zeoli said. After all, he was voted best personality in 6th grade. “Girls in high school always told me I was a nice guy. Most of those relationships were in the ‘friend zone.’”

In addition to being likable, Zeoli was a member of Boys State and Boys Nation, not to be confused with the Spencer Tracy film Boys Town.

Boys State and Boys Nation is an annual forum concerning civic training, government, leadership, and Americanism that is run by the American Legion. One hundred Boys Nation senators are chosen from a pool of over 20,000 Boys State participants, making it one of the most selective educational programs in the United States. 

“I was elected governor of Jersey Boys State,” Zeoli said.

Fast forward a few years, Zeoli got a job in Governor Donald DiFrancesco’s office. “I’d been running campaigns. I was a county commissioner in New Jersey, the youngest in the state at that time.”

Yup. Alex P. Keaton.

This is where the proverbial stars began to align for Zeoli.

He reconnected with the guy he’d beaten out for governor of Boys Town, I mean, Jersey Boys State

“He got me into WPHT 1210 Philadelphia. I started doing all the shifts I could. This is really the only station where I’ve worked. I’d fill in for holidays, nights, anywhere I could. If I was up here in Tupper Lake, and they had someone unable to cover an air shift, I’d drive the seven hours to take the shift.”

He said he recalls the first air shift he had. “It was after the Super Bowl,” Zeoli said. “Everybody that called in was drunk.”

Zeoli said he took a while to find his voice, his on-air groove and persona.

“For me, it all came down to authenticity. In the early days, when the microphone came on, I thought I should behave like a talk show host. Whatever that is.”

The realization of his voice took a while to come about. “It’s all about being natural and comfortable on-air,” Zeoli said. “That’s when it started to work for me. I let my guard down. I figured people could take me as I was or leave me as I was. It wasn’t a plan for me to change the way I am for an audience.”

On his show, Zeoli said he believes it’s important to challenge the audience. 

“I’m always surprised at how many conservatives battle fellow conservatives,” he explained. “We deal with so many contentious issues, quite often, people will come at us with a very strong and vocal position.”

Turning on the microphone at dawn, Zeoli likes to think he’s talking to just one person. “Radio is such an intimate connection. I don’t know how many people are listening at any given time, but I like to envision talking to one person. I don’t like it when people come on saying, ‘Good morning, folks. How y’all doing this morning.”

Zeoli wants to connect with the guy driving to work, still groggy from sleep. “It can be a one-one experience even though I’m talking to a hundred thousand different people.”

Sometimes he’ll talk about something unique that happened in a Phillies game. Other times it could be talking about a film he saw. “I don’t like a formula or a show that’s too scripted. I always try to treat my topics with a little empathy. I’m not really into hearing someone pound on a table for four hours. I’ll react to something my producer might say.”

Zeoli said being a good talk show host is about being a good reactor. That’s why he loves radio. You don’t get that reaction on television, and that’s why he doesn’t think he’d like television. 

“Also, a good host also has a great shoulder to cry on,” Zeoli said. “I think that’s why I’m good at radio. I let the audience have a good cry on my shoulder. On the way home from work, I’ll decompress in the car, put on some music. When I’m home, I’m generally not listening to Tucker or Hannity. I will do some binge-watching, compose a tweet here and there.”

Zeoli said his childhood was pleasant. Later, the family experienced some very trying times. 

“My dad was a cop with the Port Authority in New York. He was retired when 9/11 happened. They reinstated him on recovery teams.”

Tony Zeoli was at Ground Zero pulling bodies out of the pit. Today he has all sorts of health problems as a result of that.

“Part of me is so proud of what he did,” Zeoli said. “Another part of me wishes he never had to be exposed to all those hazards. Here he is in his golden years, and he has to suffer through all these health maladies. I am grateful his grandkids will know he was a hero.”

Tony Zeoli actually wrote a book about his experiences at Ground Zero. Rising From The Ashes: The True Story of 9/11 and Recovery Team Romeo.

I asked Zeoli the most ridiculous question ever tossed for no discernible reason. A question that’s so bad it tops the list of the worst questions in a bad job interview.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“I think I’d like to have a national audience,” Zeoli said. “I can’t say I’d be disappointed if my show was syndicated. I think I have a good style of radio presented on my show. I like to mix in fun. I’m not caustic. I can be passionate and topical without being caustic. I think what I do is important. A bigger stage would be a good thing. We need to have strong voices in this medium. Why not seek the biggest stage? It’s all about connecting, entertaining more and more people.”

If somebody disagrees with Zeoli, he said he tries not to ‘blow them up.’ 

“We should find an amicable way to disagree. The key is to disagree in an entertaining way. I don’t want my audience to think I was a jerk to a caller. They may empathize more with the caller thinking I was a jerk. They might end up.”

Zeoli loves the structure of his show. “I have a problem with teams that want to talk to each other, which tends to isolate the listener,” Zeoli said. “If I interrupt a newscast, I still have to remember there are a lot of people out there who are part of the conversation. I don’t want people to feel they are eavesdropping on a conversation. Everything has to be about the value of the audience.”

Zeoli said his main goal right now is to produce a show people want to hear, Something that’s informative and entertaining. He’s trying to create good feelings during a time when we don’t feel so good about things.

During Covid, Zeoli said he’d frequent the movie theaters to help keep them in business during those lean times. Also, during Covid, he created a kind of a man-cave. Although, his family can use it too.

“I converted my garage into a movie theater and studio,” Zeoli said. “We insulated it, put in a big screen, and made it comfortable. Part of it is a studio. When I fill in for Mark Levin, I’ll do it from my garage.”

Zeoli is a self-described movie buff. He’s recently been viewing The Offer about making The Godfather. “The movie almost wasn’t made,” Zeoli explains. “Paramount has kept the story fascinating for ten episodes. Burt Reynolds was considered for the role of Sonny Corleone, but Marlon Brando wouldn’t work with him. Zeoli said Reynolds was a better actor than most people give him credit for. “Burt was great in Boogie Nights, Deliverance, and a couple of others. We tend to associate him solely with goofy comedies with cars.”

BNM Writers

Scott Masteller Has a Gift for Spotting Talent Early

According to Masteller, everybody has their style, and he doesn’t try to change their core talent. 

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Scott Masteller has seen tons of talent, format flips, and changes during his more than 40 years of experience in radio as an on-air talent, program director, and executive.

He’s currently the program director for WBAL NewsRadio in Baltimore, Maryland. Additional duties include oversight of the production of the Baltimore Ravens Football on WBAL and 98 Rock Radio. He also started the ESPN affiliate in Dallas, Texas.

“After my time at ESPN, coming to Baltimore was the perfect transition for me,” Masteller said. 

From the first moment he arrived, Masteller said people were welcoming; he was impressed with the history and legacy of the station, something he’d followed since he began in radio. 

“When I decided to come here, I knew WBAL checked a lot of boxes.”

He always wanted to be in broadcasting. 

“I started by playing a lot of bad disco records on an AM radio station, “ Masteller said. 

Now that surprised me. Not only because he liked Michael Jackson, but I wasn’t aware there were any ‘good’ disco records. 

After he left ESPN, Masteller said he had plenty of opportunities to stay in sports, but WBAL was such an iconic brand. The station is news, talk, and sports, but he said he was a little apprehensive about the news and talk part. The sports part he had down.  

“In the end, I really wanted something different. After I took the job, they told me, ‘By the way, you’re in charge of Orioles coverage. Hearst is fully committed to what we’re doing here, as they are with all their properties.”

At WBAL, the station delivers award-winning newscasts and local talk shows all day and continues focusing on the weekend.

“I’m as busy with this job as I ever had been at ESPN and other places. We’re reacting to breaking news.” 

Masteller said he started in a small town. 

“I wanted to be an on-air announcer, and I began in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I was there for 14 years doing remotes, afternoons, and music. I was also a wedding disc jockey.”

So that’s where the lousy disco comes from. 

“All of a sudden, I was doing sports,” Masteller explained. “I was a roving reporter for the Little League World Series. I got to interview Jim Palmer, and he was one of the nicest guys. I started to learn that stuff, eventually did some play-by-play.”

As in many small markets, his station ran out of money and shut down.

“It was a turning point in my career,” Masteller said.”I was excited about baseball and wanted to be an announcer. I sent tapes to every minor league team. One guy called and said he had an opening in Wichita, Kansas.”

Travel-wise that appears to be both a blessing and a bit of a curse. 

“I took the job over the phone,” Masteller explained. “I still have the letter from the GM. It was for almost no money, but it was the best experience I’d had, and it lasted for three summers.”

He broadcast for the Wichita Wranglers, the AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and traveled with the team on late-night bus rides and flights to Texas. 

In 2001, he was named PD at KESN, the ESPN station in Dallas. When he got to Dallas, Masteller started working behind the scenes, coaching talent, developing talent, and planning. 

“I remember I went for my first interview in Dallas. ESPN had not signed on yet. Just those four letters had that kind of branding. We went in thinking, ‘We’re going up against KTCK, The Ticket,’ one of the greatest stations of all time. A legacy station. We stuck to our plan, localized our product, generated revenue and ratings.”

Masteller put together a strong team at the startup, KESN, including Randy Galloway from the Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News on Galloway and Company. 

“I’ve seen what happens, ” Masteller explained. “One station will be successful, and the other station will try to emulate them and do the exact same thing.” 

He said that was a fatal mistake. The Ticket had its listeners and a culture that couldn’t be duplicated.

KVDT was branded as an ESPN station, and Masteller said they played that to the hilt. Mike and Mike were a significant franchise at the time. With the imaging, people thought the talent all lived in Texas. That’s how you merge your national shows with your local audience.

Masteller was recruited to go to Bristol as senior director of content in 2006 and stayed there until 2014. 

“I was overseeing radio and had interactions with television. It was a phenomenal place, and I learned so much. It wasn’t just ESPN; it was also Disney. By that, I mean the culture of the business, how to treat employees, and understanding what’s important. Those are experiences I’ll take with me forever.” 

Whether in sports or news, Masteller believes you must establish credibility with your talent, news anchors, or managers. He said you couldn’t do that on the first day, but the trust factor becomes hugely important. You gain that with open and honest communications.

Masteller knew of Dan Patrick in his early days at ESPN. 

“Dan is the consummate professional. I knew right away there was nobody better at conducting an interview. He knew the questions to ask. He’s got credibility. He treats people fairly but knows how to ask the tough questions. That’s what set him apart.” 

According to Masteller, everybody has their style, and he doesn’t try to change their core talent. 

“Every broadcaster is different. People used to ask themselves what their long-term legacy in the business was going to be. Today you don’t see that as much. People are always looking for that next opportunity.  One of the best things I learned from ESPN was feedback. Learn what I was doing right, what I could do better.”

A good host must know how to pivot to relate on more than just a sports level. The host must be able to react to the news of the day. 

“Sports transcends all aspects of media. It’s not just X’s and O’s anymore,” Masteller said. “You look at a big story today that has global implications. If you’re going to be a host, you’ve got to speak to different things. Things must be easy enough for an audience to digest, especially in broadcast radio. You’re always multitasking.”

Spotting talent early is a gift. Masteller said he’s instinctively known when people like Patrick came along. Then there’s Colin Cowherd. 

“Before Dallas, I was with KFXX in Portland. Colin Cowherd arrived there two weeks before I did as a midday talent. When I heard him the first time, he was a bit rough around the edges, but I knew he was going to be great. He was always thinking about the moment. Preparation for his show was second to none in terms of where he was going.” 

Masteller said Cowherd could talk about politics, social issues, family, and the stock market. Sports is what he does, but he could do a general talk show and do whatever he wanted. 

As the pandemic hit, we were looking at making a change in our morning show; we wanted to do something different. So we merged our two highest profile talents into one program with Bryan Nehman and Clarence Mitchell IV. Even though they were both working remotely, we made a move and created the C4 and Bryan Nehman Show. Sometimes it just clicks, and we all decided the best course was to get them on the air.

 “Because of the pandemic, for the first year, they never saw each other,” Masteller said. “When they finally worked face to face, I remember the first morning. I was listening and knew within 10 minutes they had chemistry. Sometimes it just clicks. All I had to do was get them in there.”

He said what makes him proud in his career is helping people get better, to achieve their goals, and to develop future leaders. 

“I remember starting a new job and wondering if I could really do it. It takes time. I’ve met some amazing people in this industry who want to learn every day. Make an impact.” 

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Chris Cuomo Interview Gives NewsNation Ratings Uptick

NewsNation hopes the upward ratings momentum continues as Cuomo joins their prime time lineup later this fall.

Douglas Pucci

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In his first interview since his CNN firing, Chris Cuomo appeared on the July 26th edition of Dan Abrams Live on nascent outlet NewsNation. Cuomo’s departure from CNN stemmed from an investigation which determined how he had advised his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid sexual harassment allegations.

Abrams pressed Cuomo on several matters concerning CNN, as well as on what he’s been doing since he left.

Cuomo stated he’s neither a victim nor guilty of many of the things that led to his ouster. Nor did he claim to be a victim of “cancel culture”, as he commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever been a victim of anything ever in my life…I don’t feel sorry for myself.”

Dan Abrams Live featuring Chris Cuomo drew 187,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. While that pales in comparison to what the three major cable news networks deliver throughout the day, the figure marked a giant boost from the program’s normal levels — it more than tripled it; for July 18-22, the original 9 p.m. telecast of Abrams averaged 56,000 viewers per weeknight.

Time-slot wise, Abrams was able to best Newsmax’s competing Prime News (115,000 viewers). But on that evening, Newsmax’s Eric Bolling: The Balance (188,000) and Greg Kelly Reports (194,000) still managed to top all NewsNation fare.

NewsNation hopes the upward ratings momentum continues as Cuomo joins their prime time lineup later this fall. His former nightly show Cuomo Prime Time — although rated behind FNC’s Hannity and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show in the 9 p.m. slot — had been CNN’s No. 1 program during its brief run.

Cable news averages for July 25-31, 2022:

Total Day (July 25-31 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.378 million viewers; 182,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.688 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.485 million viewers; 95,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.190 million viewers; 55,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.147 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.122 million viewers; 10,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.110 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.106 million viewers; 22,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (July 25-30 @ 8-11 p.m.; July 31 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.139 million viewers; 277,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.138 million viewers; 101,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.620 million viewers; 129,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.227 million viewers; 68,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.205 million viewers; 55,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.138 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.137 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.057 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.055 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, Mon. 7/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.482 million viewers

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.286 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.281 million viewers

4. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 7/26/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.204 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.128 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.090 million viewers

7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.028 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 7/29/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.951 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 7/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.855 million viewers

10. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.706 million viewers

20. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 7/25/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.354 million viewers

171. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Mon. 7/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.780 million viewers

220. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 606” (HBO, Fri. 7/29/2022 10:01 PM, 59 min.) 0.656 million viewers

337. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 7/31/2022 11:00 PM, 34 min.) 0.458 million viewers

344. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 7/26/2022 11:00 PM, 31 min.) 0.448 million viewers

351. Forensic Files II “Unraveled” (HLN, Sun. 7/31/2022 10:30 PM, 30 min.) 0.432 million viewers

376. Varney & Company (FBN, Fri. 7/29/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.386 million viewers

408. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee “Episode 7215” (TBS, Thu. 7/28/2022 10:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.346 million viewers

442. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 805” (CNBC, Sun. 7/31/2022 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.311 million viewers

694. Deep Water Salvage “(209) Salvage 911” (TWC, Sun. 7/31/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.191 million viewers

705. Dan Abrams Live “Chris Cuomo Interview 7/26/22” (NWSN, Tue. 7/26/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.187 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.501 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.494 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.415 million adults 25-54

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.413 million adults 25-54

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 7/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.403 million adults 25-54

6. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 7/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.397 million adults 25-54

7. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.385 million adults 25-54

8. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 7/27/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.383 million adults 25-54

9. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 7/28/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.380 million adults 25-54

10. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 7/29/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.366 million adults 25-54

52. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 7/25/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.212 million adults 25-54

67. Forensic Files “Trail Of A Killer” (HLN, Thu. 7/28/2022 12:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.182 million adults 25-54

82. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 7/26/2022 11:00 PM, 31 min.) 0.171 million adults 25-54

90. Don Lemon Tonight (CNN, Wed. 7/27/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.165 million adults 25-54

114. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee “Episode 7215” (TBS, Thu. 7/28/2022 10:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.148 million adults 25-54

156. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 7/31/2022 11:00 PM, 34 min.) 0.134 million adults 25-54

166. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 614” (CNBC, Sun. 7/31/2022 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.128 million adults 25-54

318. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 606” (HBO, Fri. 7/29/2022 10:01 PM, 59 min.) 0.093 million adults 25-54

496. America’s Morning Headquarters (TWC, Fri. 7/29/2022 9:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.064 million adults 25-54

733. Newsnation: Rush Hour (NWSN, Thu. 7/28/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.038 million adults 25-54

745. Kudlow (FBN, Wed. 7/27/2022 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.037 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Katie Pavlich Has Experienced Success at an Early Age

Pavlich is a journalist, editor, and freak of nature regarding achievement and success. 

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She’s done more in her 34 years than my high school class combined. Katie Pavlich is a journalist, editor, and freak of nature regarding achievement and success. 

As a reporter, she has covered presidential and congressional elections, the White House, the Department of Justice, the Second Amendment, and border issues.

Her story gets better/more humbling, depending on where you stand. When she was 26, Pavlich was named Woman of the Year by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Most 26-year-olds are consumed with growing out their man-bun or increasing their number of Tik-Tok followers. 

Did I mention she is just 34 years old? 

“I guess I was born older,” Pavlich said. “I’m kind of a grumpy millennial. I call myself an old soul that doesn’t really fit in with my generation. I was the youngest kid in camp when I was young.” 

She wrote a letter to Bill Clinton about taxes when she was eight years old.  

“My mom took me to Disneyland, and I broke down and cried because I was missing homework.”

Walt Disney’s frozen head must be sobbing. 

Pavlich grew up in the mountains of northern Arizona, rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and hunting big game with her father in the forests and deserts.

She was an athlete growing up through high school but not a runner. But, as you might expect from the last few paragraphs, that didn’t deter her. In 2019, Pavlich ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. 

“I should have trained more than I did,” she explained. “It was one of those things I needed to do for myself. There were people from so many demographics running alongside me. It was special because I was running alongside people who were injured during their service to our country overseas. I was getting passed by runners with prosthetic legs.”

She still finds time to run with friends in D.C. 

“It’s fantastic to run past the monuments and all the history. I’m not sure if I’ll run another marathon. I probably don’t have the time to train for one. I’ll probably still run some ten miles.” Pavlich said there’s a sobering mile in D.C. while running past monuments dedicated to soldiers killed in action. 

Pavlich can do more than name all 50 states; she’s been to 45 of them.

“I haven’t made it to North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi, or Alabama,” Pavlich said. “It’s easier to remember the states I haven’t been to. I heard pheasant hunting in South Dakota is great.”

Pavlich has family in Westfield, Wisconsin, outside of Madison. It’s on her mother’s side of the family—a dairy farm with 800 cows. We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday there. I haven’t been there in far too long.”

She was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, a place Pavlich says is a lot like Colorado.

“We lived on five acres in a house built in the woods. We had beautiful views of peaks and valleys. Surrounded by elk, deer. We had a lot of snow days from school. My father was a big hunter. It’s a way of life for our family. Dad  gave me my first rifle on my 10th birthday.”

For my 10th birthday, I got a baseball mitt.

The family is steeped in respect for the land, and Pavlich’s grandfather was a park ranger in Yellowstone. She said he removed a lot of problem bears from campgrounds. 

Instead of hanging out at the mall, Pavlich rode horses in the wilderness and camped. “Even in late June, it still snowed. We were a family that lived the outdoor life.”

Cable TV was not a thing in her home until she was in high school. They couldn’t run cables out to their house. 

“We only had three channels, so I was watching a lot of local news, Hercules and Xena. I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV. I was mostly outside anyway.”

In addition to being a fan of legendary heroes, Pavlich was always fascinated with debate and politics. “I was always in tune to what was going on. When we finally got Fox News on cable, I knew I wanted to be debating on the channel.”

After graduating from college, she drove from Tucson to D.C., hungry to pursue different avenues. 

“It was a pretty big culture shock going from Arizona to D.C.,” Pavlich said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘what have I done?  Both places have a lot to offer, and it makes no sense to compare them. Virginia is beautiful and has a large black bear population. Fall is beautiful here. I’ve told myself I never want to take for granted the opportunity I’ve had to be here.”

Pavlich said she knows D.C. is known for a lot of corruption, but it’s an amazing place to see all the monuments and the National Mall. 

“This is the greatest country in the history of the earth, and so many people come here from all over to experience it. The day I can’t appreciate all of that is the day I should move somewhere else.”

After arriving in D.C., Pavlich became a contributing editor at Townhall.com, promoted to editor five years ago. “I started out low on the totem pole, but I dove in head-first. I manage a team with great writers and reporters. I’ve got some amazing columnists that submit every day. Producing new pieces by the hour. It’s exciting to see how they’ve grown in their careers. It has been very rewarding.”

Pavlich likes to give her writers and reporters a lot of freedom to pursue stories they are interested in, giving them some creative freedom. 

Keeping abreast of national news, Pavlich watched the video that recently emerged of a store owner in Narco, California. A man was protecting his store from a heavily armed, snot-nosed, wannabe robber. Before he could get close to the counter, the owner blasted the kid before he knew what hit him. 

“I loved it,” Pavlich said. “You never like to see an innocent person in a position where they have to defend themselves, but it’s great to see it when they do. It’s harrowing. The store owner had a heart attack afterward, but he’s doing okay.

I have very little tolerance for those who want to do innocent people harm. It’s our right to defend ourselves when a gun is pointed at us.”

Pavlich said the basic crux of the gun argument is that bad people will find a way to do bad things. She explained in her experience that people have a standard answer when they are asked why they choose to buy a gun. 

“The most common answer is self-defense. Surprisingly, involvement cuts across gender lines. The stats from the past few years show more women and minorities involved. As a white woman, I’m the minority there. Some of it is skeet shooting. Shooting alligators.” 

Alligators? By the way, do you know what type of gun is preferred when you prepare to shoot an alligator? An AR-15, of course.

“You shoot them right behind the jaw,” Pavlich said. “An accurate shot there will kill them.”

When shooting alligators gets a little boring, Pavlich is busy with her new Fox Nation show, “Luxury Hunting Lodges of America.” The show consists of four episodes where Pavlich and her crew visited Honey Break in Louisiana, Highland Hills in Oregon, Three Forks Ranch in Wyoming, and Gray Cliffs Ranch in Montana.

“What I love about our Fox Nation show is how we show people are more comfortable in a hunting setting. They can come back day in and day out. They can go fly fishing, ride horses.”

Shooting an elk and returning to the cabin for a glass of red wine might take away some of the ruggedness we’ve associated with hunting. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

“I’ve had a lot of experience with the rugged outdoors and hunting,” Pavlich said. “I know what it’s like to pitch a tent and cook over a fire. It’s not for everybody, but that goes both ways. What we convey on the show is the experience can be a lot like glamping but certainly a step up from tenting. (Glamping is when stunning nature meets modern luxury accommodations.)

“I’m excited we can show these hunting lodges. Every single experience was completely different. When we show the lodges, we also talk about the architecture, the history of the land. How people are using private conversation dollars, restoring properties.”

A lot of what they shot was predicated on weather, and what was available at that time. 

“I was actually surprised I caught fish when I was out there,” Pavlich said. “I caught a brown trout and a rainbow trout.”

Alligators must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. 

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