Scott Sloan was a jock at the old WQFM in Milwaukee, a poster child for rock stations at the time. 50,000 Watts of Alcohol and Drugs could have been the station’s tagline for promos.
“I think part of the job requirement was to be coked-up,” Sloan said.
(Notice, I didn’t say he was joking.)
Sloan attended Bowling Green State University, a public school in Ohio. He can be heard daily on 700 WLW in Cincinnati from 9:00am-noon.
“I stumbled into radio like everybody else. But I took it very seriously,” Sloan said.
In college, he had an arduous routine. First, Sloan did overnight work, then went straight to WBGU, his college station, for a morning shift.
“We had no idea what we were doing. We tried to figure it out as we went along. Howard Stern was impacting radio.”
After a successful deejay career, Sloan eventually made the jump to talk. He had been impacted by the Loop out of Chicago with Kevin Muller and Gary Meier.
“I had a lot of respect for Steve Dahl,” Sloan said. “He always showed up, put in the work. When you’re on the air, it’s supposed to sound like you’re not working. But you are.”
Sloan explained as a show host, you’re prepping all the time. But that’s if you intended to be any good.
“I think you’re always looking for stuff to present. You should always be you. If you’re an asshole at home, be an asshole on the radio.”
Sloan said regardless of how you present yourself on air; you tend to become your character.
“Where we get stuck is when we try to change lives,” he said. “What happened to entertainment? We’re so full of the ‘Gotcha’ culture, people looking to trip each other up.”
As a parallel, Sloan said it’s the same thing standup comics are going through now, facing restrictions imposed by a society that has suddenly changed its collective mind.
“We’re not brain surgeons,” he said. “We’re not the brightest bulbs. I know so many people in this business that have failed miserably. If some people are antisocial, they can hide behind the microphone. If you’re a well-rounded person and your show is successful, people will try to emulate you.”
Chicago radio knew how to get it right, Sloan said. The Loop was always entertaining. Sloan explained on his station that he could take lessons from those jocks, make mistakes and learn. It was fun.
“When I started, I wasn’t good,” he said plainly. “I was kind of making it up as I went along. You may start out with no listenership, but when you work in a cluster, you kind of know that going in. You’re either the big dog, or you’re the little dog working for the cluster.”
Sloan said It gives you an amazing sense of freedom, knowing you can learn without all the pressure. If people are paying attention to you, you have an opportunity to work with a blank slate.
“You’re not as important as the money-makers. You can play the underdog when you’re figuring out your act.”
He met his wife Michelle at Bowling Green, studying alongside each other. Sloan said his wife went into television and, between the two, always landed good jobs.
“It’s tough in this business to find a wife who understands the business because she’s in the business,” Sloan explained. “When my kids were young, we were forced to have a lot of ‘staycations.’ I remember filling the car with kids and gear, and when we were literally pulling out of the driveway, I got a call that the space shuttle Columbia had exploded. We’re going wall to wall with our coverage as we were still one of the few live stations. I looked at my wife, and she knew I had to go to work immediately. Vacation over. Michelle understood. She got it. How many spouses would take it that well if they didn’t know the business?”
Sloan has been married to Michelle for 30 years. He’s made use of that longevity on the air.
“You have to roast your wife, have a sense of humor if you expect to make it for any length of time,” he explained. “One of the most popular segments on my show is Real Estate With My Wife. She works in real estate now, so I guess it’s kind of a commercial for her business, but I’m not paying for that shit. It’s too expensive at our station.” Michelle leads the show with personal information relating to her and Scott.
“Our relationship is a platform for jumping off,” he said. “Recently, she got a $700 haircut. By that, I mean by the cut, doing tons of other things I don’t understand. That’s divorce material. I made the argument on the air that she was doing it to impress other women because guys don’t care that much about hair. The phones went crazy.”
Compared to when Sloan started, job descriptions around the stations have changed. “Program directors these days do some paperwork. They’re stretched so thin they don’t have time to coach talent or manage the station. Everyone is stretched, and it’s sad.”
Early influences like Stern and Rush helped Sloan focus on his own presentation.
“I liked Rush, but I didn’t listen to him that much. I’d listen to him driving in, but I think he became too self-important. Everybody evolves. Some people have so much reverence for the man it’s elevated to the point of ridiculous.”
Sloan said veteran broadcaster Bill Cunningham, who can be heard on WLW, is probably one of the most emulated talkers. “Hannity took what he does right from Bill,” Sloan said.
Sloan said he doesn’t recall being scared when he recalled his first time on the air.
“If you’re not the main show, you don’t have to be that good. You’ve got that buffer. I was doing sports from 6-8, and nobody was listening. I was ‘Scott the Sports Idiot.’”
Sloan said he had nothing to lose since nobody was listening to his show. He’d try a different take.
“I started calling sports bars,” Sloan said. “The bartender would ask why I was calling a sports bar. I told them I didn’t have any listeners, and I figured people who talked about sports were in the bar. That’s why I’m calling you.”
Auditions on the radio are part of the gig. Sloan recalled going to Toledo in an attempt to land a talker job. The green light came on, and they told him to ‘go.’
“There were all these programming guys standing around,” Sloan explained. “I remember thinking it was important to avoid making eye contact with those guys. I just went into my own zone. I actually put my feet up on the board. I think they thought, ‘well, this guy is comfortable.’ I guess I fooled them. I didn’t think I had that much to say.”
Sloan said he’s a regular guy who shows up for his show in jeans, and a shirt.
“I don’t get the talkers who show up in a suit and tie like they’re working at a bank. I’m supposed to have reverence for these guys?”
On the air, Sloan deals with the listener’s insanity. He offers a blunt assessment of the situation today.
“Politics today is about how much we can kiss ass,” Sloan said. “I’ve always voted Republican, but I don’t recognize the party anymore. America is in a spot right now; everyone is so serious. Always more of the same, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
He said every show is different, but it’s always live and local. “My role is to take the news that morning, open the phones, and get guests. We have Bill Cunningham from noon to 3 in the afternoon. He is such an incredible guy. He does it in a tongue-in cheek-manner. I think he’s the most entertaining guy in the industry. When I watch his show, he’s the Harvard of talk show host. I figure compared to him; I should be working at Taco Bell. We don’t need, and nobody could be, another Bill.”
Sloan believes hyper-local is the way it should be.
“If I’m driving from Milwaukee to Nashville, I don’t know what they’re talking about. I don’t have a reference point because I’m not from those towns,” Sloan said. “And I guess that’s how it should be as long as it makes sense to the local community. Cincinnati knows what I’m talking about, even if Cleveland doesn’t. At WLW, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We don’t have over-the-top characters like wrestling.”
Sloan said things will change, as they always do.
“Someday, somebody will come along and alter everything. The way hosts present. When Stern came on the scene, everybody was cursing, doing prank phone calls. He was amazing. Then the Morning Zoo went away. Something else will come along and shake up the industry. Then somebody will rush to be like them. It’s like The Simpsons. After that show came out, every network had to get an animated show.”
Sloan expressed his frustration with some of the technology we’ve integrated into our daily lives.
“The human brain has only so much hard drive. If I have to remember one more password, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m an inch deep and a mile wide. I know just enough to get myself into trouble. I didn’t learn anything until I left college. It’s not the college; it’s the money-grubbing college industry. You mean to tell me I can spend 100 grand on a degree in advanced puppetry, but there are no jobs in puppetry? Sesame Street isn’t hiring. I can’t find a job, so I’m living in my mom’s basement for the rest of my life?”
On the air a few days ago, Sloan said the Trump Mar-a-Lago thing pissed many people off. Sloan said everybody’s first impulse was thinking their side was right.
“With the assault on the FBI building in Cincinnati, the Federal building was directly behind our old studio. We saw that building every day. So I said this “Gravy Seal” was going to shoot through bulletproof glass with a nail gun? With reaction from the callers, you would have thought I was the antichrist. They said a Trump supporter wouldn’t say that. Here’s the problem. The same people that hate the FBI don’t recall they are the same people Comey and the FBI were investigating.”
Sloan said we’re so into our own silos we won’t talk to anyone who challenges us. He explained that’s a sign of weakness.
“People believe in things when it’s convenient for them. They chant ‘Defund the FBI,’ but didn’t you just call yourselves the party of Law and Order? We look like crazy people. We treat crazy people like they’re on par with the rest of us. We’ve given the crazies a voice, a sense of importance. Nothing against Jerry Springer, but he did open a door.”
Scotty, Scotty, Scotty.
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.