His voice can be calming and assuring, but Joe Madison can also confront his listeners. The veteran SiriusXM host just returned to his Washington studios for the first time since the Spring of 2020 and found calendars “frozen in time” due to the pandemic.
He said the satellite radio company used the time with everyone working at home to modernize the equipment.
“On one hand, it’s really been great to be able to walk into a practically new updated studio,” Madison told BNM. “But on the other hand, I wake up every morning at 3:30 prepping for the show. All I have to do is roll out of bed, walk a few feet to the kitchen table.”
Madison expects to work in the studio primarily, but he’ll keep the remote option as needed.
As life changed for listeners and hosts, Madison, 72, said working from home was accepted as the “new normal,” although the biggest complaint is “people might hear the microwave go off,” he laughed.
Madison hosts the morning drive slot (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.) on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel 126.
Madison has been on air professionally for 40 years. But, as with many who get into broadcasting, his start came on his college radio station – Washington University in St. Louis — where he would earn a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology a half-century ago.
“It had just about enough power to light a lamp,” he joked.
However, arriving at the legendary WXYZ in Detroit a decade later was “a fluke.” Madison was able to parlay guest appearances as head of the NAACP Detroit chapter into his weekend show. Program director Michael Packer approached Madison about the radio position that he would hold for ten years.
“[I] sort of learned the business from the ground up,” Madison said.
Despite his radio roots in college, Madison needed polishing and planned to enroll in a broadcasting school. But Packer urged him to stand clear of extra education.
“Anything they teach you at a broadcast school we’re going to have to undo it,” He recalls Packer declaring.
So, Madison kept his unique style and experience untouched on the mic. His first full-time gig was hosting the overnight slot at WWDB in Philadelphia. Madison was the only African-American air talent on the station at the time.
“It was also the first show I got fired from,” he said.
Madison claims management dismissed him because he talked about Blacks too much. Even though Madison was established as a civil rights activist and still held a role with the NAACP, “they knew that when they hired me,” he said.
“It was not the most pleasant experience,” Madison said of his time at WWDB.
However, as the saying goes, as one door closes, another one opens. So it opened for Madison at legacy radio station WWRC in Washington.
He stayed for several years until a format change connected him with Cathy Hughes, who ran Radio One and the flagship WOL-AM.
While there, burgeoning satellite radio grew, and WOL added listeners with XM Radio, giving Madison an increased presence. That led to a full-time offer at XM, which since combined with Sirius, where “The Black Eagle” has soared for more than two decades.
Style and Substance
Separating Madison from the pack of radio hosts is his originality, authenticity and ability to be daring. That advice came from Aretha Franklin, who was a regular listener to his show.
“Most important of all is, to be honest,” he said. “I never will lie deliberately to my audience.”
Another key to Madison’s longevity—R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
“I’m only confrontational to those folks who come at me confrontationally,” he said.
Madison is considered “radioactive,” but he points out two words and the title of his soon-to-be-released memoir.
Making a difference, in 2015, Madison was the first US talk show to broadcast from Cuba in more than 50 years. He also brought the show into a civil war in southern Sudan and broadcast from Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Additionally, Madison took his show to several locations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
While not necessarily a model for his career, Howard Stern is someone who Madison put on a pedestal.
“He’s original, and that is what has made him a successful broadcaster over these many years,” he said.
Reminiscent of a scene from “Private Parts,” where WNBC researchers determined that people who didn’t like Stern listened longer than the rest, Madison admitted, “Even the haters, who call in, you know it’s fascinating, they keep calling, and they keep listening. So, they don’t go anywhere.”
Madison learned from a former host at WXYZ, the late-Mark Scott.
“We had absolutely, politically, culturally, nothing in common,” Madison said. “But he took me under his wing.”
Scott gave tips, including how to address callers in certain situations.
“He always would tell me, ‘The voice doesn’t lie,'” Madison remembered. “He probably was one of the best mentors I’ve had in this business.”
While Madison welcomes all listeners and encourages those with varying views to call, he is most associated with being a progressive talker. Regardless of the label, it is not automatically in lockstep with the Democrats.
Interviewed before the Infrastructure bill passed in the House, Madison has been “upset” with President Joe Biden and held protests on whether to filibuster.
But Madison is more enraged by the Senate Republicans stalling the Voting Rights bill named for the late civil rights icon and congressman, John Lewis.
“I’m planning to go on a hunger strike until these two [voting] bills are passed, or at least one of them,” he said. “I don’t plan to eat solid foods, really to put pressure on the United States Senate and the president of the United States.”
This is not a ratings ploy for the longtime activist, who has taken a stand with hunger strikes in the past, a reason that his SiriusXM bosses back his demonstration.
Dick Gregory, a popular comedian in the 1960s and civil rights activist, also used hunger strikes to make his case for change.
“One thing he told me was when you protest in this manner; people will either sympathize with you [or] the public starts asking, ‘Why isn’t Joe Madison eating?’ Now I get a chance to tell people what the issue is all about,” Madison said. “For me, it is both political and moral.”
Madison professes to his listeners a difference between a moment and a movement.
“Show up at a demonstration, carry some signs; that’s a moment. Moments are important,” he admitted. “But every great movement in human history has always required sacrifice.”
The Trump Era
Former President Donald Trump began his run for office in 2015, helping usher in a more divisive country. But it was a golden age for on-air hosts, who were never without content, thanks in large part to Trump’s controversial remarks.
“It’s talk radio show heaven,” Madison said. “What’s difficult is when you don’t have any issue to talk about.”
He thinks that’s led to a proliferation of podcasters.
Madison sees constant phone lines filled throughout his daily four-hour broadcast but follows in the footsteps of another radio legend, Larry King, who would allow the same callers to participate on the show only once a week.
Where there is controversy, from policy to the pandemic, Madison says there are at least two angles to discuss.
“I make sure that all sides have access to me,” he said. “And sometimes I give them hell.”
Angry callers in this climate can be expected as a hazard of the job, although Madison isn’t bothered by it.
“I still have in my possession, letters, hateful letters full of the n-word, and people couldn’t even spell it,” Madison said. “I have them stored. One of these days, I’m going to write another book and just print these letters.”
With today’s technology and social media, those who taunt Madison now have immediate access to Madison, although he questions their motives.
“Every day, they will send a nasty email full of racial hatred, and Lord, if you say anything,” he said.
He would often read the letters verbatim on the air until his wife Sherry, his radio show executive producer, cautioned they were getting under his skin and, in effect, a victory for the hate mongers.
Since they didn’t provide any substance to the conversation, her advice was to just delete them.
Those distractions notwithstanding, Madison is proud of his role on the air and doesn’t take It lightly.
“This is why talk radio is so valuable in this era,” he said. “Even though people may disagree with you. When it’s all said and done, somebody’s going to come out on the right side.”
Despite his four decades in radio, terrestrial, or satellite, Madison has no desire to retire.
“They’re going to take me feet first out of the studio,” he admitted. “I don’t know what else I’d do. I am truly blessed because I love what I do. I hate taking time off.”
Madison looks forward to returning each morning with his wife by his side (or on the other side of the glass) for another show.
“As long as I can do this physically and mentally, I hope that SiriusXM will allow me the opportunity.”
Biden, Harris Jan. 6 Speeches Deliver Viewers To All 3 Networks
“Fox News was first overall, drawing 1.44 million total viewers and 215,000 of the audience in the key 25-54 demographics, according to Nielsen Media Research. MSNBC was a close runner-up in total viewers with 1.31 million.”
Marking the start of the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 were remarks by Vice President Kamala Harris, followed by President Joe Biden. Harris stated, “On Jan. 6, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful — the lawlessness, the violence, the chaos.” In Biden’s speech, he said “At this moment, we must decide what kind of nation are we going to be… Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth, but in the shadow of lies? We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth, to live by it.“
Both speeches occurred in the 9-10 a.m. Eastern hour on Jan. 6. The rankings according to viewer figures among the cable news networks were, once again, similar to those of recent news events. Fox News Channel was first overall, drawing 1.44 million total viewers and 215,000 of the audience in the key 25-54 demographics, according to Nielsen Media Research. MSNBC was a close runner-up in total viewers with 1.31 million.
The window for CNN’s coverage went from 8:45 a.m. to 10:28 a.m. ET; while more precise data for the speeches themselves were not made available, the time period offered was still enough to achieve cable news’ runner-up spot in adults 25-54. CNN drew 187,000 in the demo while MSNBC did 182,000.
CNN delivered their most-watched hours of their week (ending Jan. 9) in the hours following Biden’s speech. Within the time frame of 10:28 a.m. to noon Eastern, which included a 22-minute speech by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the network averaged 1.25 million total viewers and 238,000 adults 25-54. Still, Fox News Channel topped those figures; from 10 a.m. to noon, they averaged 1.74 million total viewers with 272,000 adults 25-54. For FNC, the week marked 21 consecutive weeks in which they outdrew CNN and MSNBC combined according to total day data.
The Weather Channel achieved its highest rated week since the week ending Sep. 5, 2021 (Hurricane Ida). Winter Storm Garrett swept from Colorado to Maine, helping bring more than 6 inches of snow to parts of the Tennessee Valley and the Northeast. Snow totals have ranged from 2 to 5 inches in the Washington, D.C. to Baltimore to Philadelphia corridor to close to 10 inches at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and in southern Connecticut; the five boroughs of New York City received snow levels in-between. Most of the channel’s top hours occurred between the 8-11 a.m. ET time period from Jan. 3-7.
Cable news averages for January 3-9, 2022:
Total Day (January 3-9 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.408 million viewers; 223,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.746 million viewers; 88,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.548 million viewers; 113,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.196 million viewers; 58,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.191 million viewers; 37,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.161 million viewers; 39,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.121 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.105 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (January 3-8 @ 8-11 p.m.; January 9 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.303 million viewers; 365,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.284 million viewers; 154,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.705 million viewers; 153,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.227 million viewers; 73,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.206 million viewers; 66,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.218 million viewers; 47,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.142 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.053 million viewers; 8,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 1/5/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.606 million viewers
2. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 1/6/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.576 million viewers
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/6/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.515 million viewers
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/5/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.382 million viewers
5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 1/4/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.365 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 1/3/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.330 million viewers
7. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 1/7/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.311 million viewers
8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/4/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.279 million viewers
9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 1/3/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.125 million viewers
10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 1/7/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.953 million viewers
18. Rachel Maddow Show “Democracy In Peril 1/6 Anniversary” (MSNBC, Thu. 1/6/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.444 million viewers
133. CNN Newsroom (CNN, Thu. 1/6/2022 10:28 AM, 32 min.) 1.260 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/5/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.620 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/6/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.576 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/4/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.565 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 1/3/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.557 million adults 25-54
5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 1/4/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.502 million adults 25-54
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 1/7/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.487 million adults 25-54
7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 1/5/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.486 million adults 25-54
8. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 1/7/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.483 million adults 25-54
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 1/6/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.483 million adults 25-54
10. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 1/5/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.472 million adults 25-54
22. Rachel Maddow Show “Democracy In Peril 1/6 Anniversary” (MSNBC, Thu. 1/6/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.359 million adults 25-54
65. CNN Newsroom (CNN, Fri. 1/7/2022 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.255 million adults 25-54
177. Forensic Files “Time Will Tell” (HLN, late Sat. 1/8/2022 12:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.155 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Dave Ramsey and Those Evil Millionaires
Ramsey spent some time discussing a recent New York Times article, which was pushing the moral need to “abolish millionaires.”
Readers got another strong shot of common sense for their dollars and cents last week from the radio host known for delivering it in daily doses over the years.
During last week’s launch week for his new book, Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth – and How You Can Too, author and radio host, Dave Ramsey, took to the airwaves to share the underlying philosophy of his newest hit.
“We launched this book in the middle of a society where a portion of the people are out there; I call them the hope stealers. Their job is to steal your hope,” Ramsey began. “Their job is to tell you that the society, the culture, the country that we live in is so broken that the little man can’t get ahead. You stand no chance unless you inherit it from a rich uncle. You can’t make it; we need socialism. We need wealth redistribution. Wealthy people are evil anyway, and so they should be punished.”
Ramsey spent some time discussing a recent New York Times article, which was pushing the moral need to “abolish millionaires.” To Ramsey, this is anathema. After all, the radio host has made a name for himself, as well as created thousands of jobs through his multi-million dollar business by becoming the financial voice for the “little man.” He began small, became a millionaire, lost it all through bankruptcy, and then prospered much more than before through the reliance on true, Biblical financial principles.
“A billion dollars is wildly more than anyone needs, even accounting for life’s most excessive lavishes,” Ramsey quoted the story. “It’s far more than anyone might reasonably claim to deserve, however much he believes he has contributed to society. Billionaires should not exist. When American capitalism sends us its billionaires, it’s not sending us its best. It’s sending us people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing their problems with them. They’re bringing inequality.”
Ramsey pointed out the apparent case of jealousy and envy.
“Two evil character traits of anyone who is one with money. Money is evil; money is bad. If you get money, you are evil, and you are bad,” Ramsey said. “You should have it taken away from you and given to someone else….so that they are evil and bad, I guess. I never thought about that part. If we give it out, is it not a problem for the poor people that get it. I mean, if it’s bad, maybe we should just centralize it with a few people and destroy them instead of giving it to other people. That’s kind of illogical. The critical thinking breaks down on this, doesn’t it?”
And as usual, Ramsey didn’t hold back what he thought. As he has said countless times, he’s an “expert on his own opinion.”
“I’m old. When I was young, we called those communists,” he said. “This is straight-up Marxism.” He then referenced Democratic politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s policy adviser, who said “every billionaire we have is because of a policy failure” and that “a moral society needs guardrails against it.”
Co-host John Delony, questioning the logic of the extreme leftist logic Ramsey was referencing, asked a real-world question to test the integrity of the socialist theory.
“I’m just thinking of the first guy that popped into my head, everybody’s favorite target – Elon Musk comes up with a cool computer program and sells it for a lot of money. Helps a lot of people do a lot of things. Then he develops a car and a battery. What’s the inherent evil there? I’m perplexed by the argument,” Delony said.
“It’s not logical; it’s not critical thinking skills. Marxism never is,” Ramsey answered, cutting through the propaganda. “What ends up happening is that the whole thing is about vilifying wealth and the wealthy so that we can do a power grab and move the money around and get credit for it. It’s a power grab thing. That’s generally what’s at the core of Marxism or these kinds of things all along.”
As Ramsey has been saying for years, and studies support, the wealthy lead all income earners in consistent giving.
“In the real world, the most generous people on the planet are the wealthy,” Ramsey noted. “This is actual data, not theory, not political rhetoric that’s trying to beat a drum. But the actual data says that wealthy people feed more starving children than not-wealthy people.”
“88 percent gave to a charity in 2020,” Delony pointed out, referencing a survey of 1626 households with a net worth of at least a million dollars.
“Millionaires, there they are again!” Ramsey chimed.
The NFL Weathered the Storm, Fans Once Again Are Addicted
The NFL Playoffs kicking off this weekend, nearly 18 months removed from the NFL’s latest soiree into politics, yet the league is as strong as ever.
The NFL has us all wrapped around its finger.
Don’t take my word for it, just look at the numbers. As we get set for the NFL Playoffs kicking off this weekend, we are nearly 18 months removed from the NFL’s latest soiree into politics, yet the league is as strong as ever.
The NFL’s regular season viewership rose 10%, which is a bounce-back from a 7% drop in 2020.
About 17.1 million viewers tuned in to regular season games on TV and online. It was the highest regular season audience for the NFL since 2015, according to a statement from the league. With the audience for traditional TV falling, NFL games continue to dominate the ratings, ranking as 91 of the top 100 telecasts this season, the league said.
So what happened?
Well first we need to look backwards: 2020 was a perfect storm. The NFL did go political to a degree, adding “social justice” phrases to the end zones and the backs of players’ helmets. It was not as in-your-face as what the NBA did, but it was noticeable. It bothered a portion of fans who may have temporarily stepped away from watching football in a boycott. Add to that an incredibly tense 2020 election season, along with being in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was natural to expect to see a decrease in viewership.
Oh, and let’s be honest, the mostly empty stadiums were just ghoulish.
But the NFL weathered the storm. Because that’s what it does. It’s the best product on TV and it’s brought many back into the fold as things have gotten back to normal in 2021.
It’s also why I never boycotted the league. First off, I knew I wouldn’t last long. We all need outlets from the insanity of the news cycle. I knew myself too well. And if I was going to boycott, I was going to do it right. I never thought I could do an NFL boycott “right”.
Was that weak of me? I know I certainly took the backlash from some of my listeners. But based on the ratings numbers we are seeing this week, it seems like many who were tough talkers in 2020 have quietly come back to the league with their tail between their legs.
For the record, I’m OK with that. I won’t be admonishing anyone over it. The NFL puts on a first-class product. And let’s be honest, the NFL knew that they could toe the line of doing “enough” on the social justice front to appease those requesting it, while allowing time to heal wounds of those not wanting it, and not hemorage their audience in any significant way.
It turns out the NFL was right. Once again. We can’t get enough. Republicans, Democrats, Independents. And we’ll be tuned in starting with Wild Card Weekend on Saturday.
So as we get ready for another season of NFL Playoffs, there’s no conversation around politics infringing on the product and the league is dominating TV ratings in a way no other sport or show is coming close to duplicating.
The NFL weathered the storm, the stadiums are full, fans are back, and we’re all, once again, addicted.
It’s OK to admit it. I am. Will you?
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