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Julia Ziegler Is Guiding One of Radio’s Crown Jewels, WTOP

Ziegler began her radio career at WTOP in 2003 and has held many roles within the company during that time.

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Julia Ziegler could charm a charging Jaguar to stop in its tracks. Or in her case, a Nittany Lion.

As a former student at Penn State and a current season ticket holder, Ziegler said it’s an all-day affair. “I have to wake up early. I have a friend who has a house near the stadium,” Ziegler said. “We get up at 4 or 5, then drive up on game day, stay the night after the game. I’m a big fan of 3:30 kicks.” 

Ziegler said her obsession with football was in full swing in college. “When I was in school, I was one of those people camping out and waiting in line to get good seats.” 

Apparently, each year in school, you progressed to better seating. The freshman got the tunnel, and upperclassmen got the 50-yard line, the first couple of rows. “I spent many nights out in the freezing cold with my friends to get good seats. It was a lot of fun. Great memories of Penn State moments.” 

Ziegler recalls a Nittany Lion experience that has stayed with her all these years. On September 23, 2000, while playing in only the fifth game of his college career, Adam Taliaferro sustained a career-ending spinal cord injury while tackling tailback Jerry Westbrooks during Penn State’s game versus Ohio State. The game was being held in Columbus. It was parents’ weekend at Penn State, so Ziegler and her friends had gathered to watch the game. 

“Even though it was on television, we watched him get carted off the field,” Ziegler said. “It was his sophomore year, and I was a freshman.” Taliaferro would beat the odds. A year later, he walked back on the field at Beaver Stadium for Penn State’s game against Miami. 

“We were sitting in the tunnel for that game. It was so emotional.”

She grew up in a Penn State family. 

“I had a lot of relatives who went to Penn State, including my grandparents. My mom really wanted me to go to Penn State. It was a great school, and it also meant cheaper in-state tuition.” As a defiant teen, she says she didn’t want to go for those reasons. She had also been accepted to NYU, Boston University, and Syracuse.

It was an official tour to Penn State that sold her. “It was that visit that made me want to come here. I remember telling my mom it wasn’t because she told me to, but because I really wanted to go. I’m so glad I did. It made me who I am today.”

“Penn State is a huge football school, so that was icing on the cake when I decided to go there,” Ziegler explained. “Just the feeling of being in that stadium. The most we’ve ever had is 111,000 people. I have been there for some of the loudest games. Everything reverberates.”

Ziegler had one of those cutouts they used to fill the seats at games during Covid. A big photo of herself. “They allowed you to buy it after the season. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get that.’ We decided to hang it up in my office and face it toward the newsroom. With our glass office walls, you can see it when you walk by my office. Cracks me up all the time.” 

She began her radio career at WTOP in 2003 and has held many roles within the company during that time, including managing editor of WTOP.com’s sister station, FederalNewsRadio.com, for seven years. 

In 2019, Ziegler was named WTOP’s Director of News and Programming. From 2015 to 2019, she served as WTOP’s Digital News Director. Ziegler was also part of the WTOP team that created and produced the award-winning true-crime podcast, 22 Hours: An American Nightmare. 

“A few years back, two of my reporters were covering the trial of a man accused of killing a family and their housekeeper in the family’s home. The story had many twists and turns – not all of which could fit into our headline news format on the radio. The reporters asked if they could do more with the story. So, I told them to start recording every conversation they were having about the trial. After the trial, we decided a podcast would allow us to tell the story of this tragedy in the most complete way it had ever been told. That was important to us. We didn’t want to retell it and potentially open wounds for the family if we couldn’t offer new information. When the podcast launched, it took off like crazy. Ended up hitting number 2 on the Apple charts. Number 1 among their crime podcasts.” 

Ziegler said you just don’t know what is going to take off when it comes to podcasts. A viral tweet can send it to a higher trajectory. There are podcasts that land somewhere in the middle. It can take years for one of them to grow. You’ve also got to determine the revenue side if you can sell ads. 

In 2022, WTOP launched its latest podcast venture, DMV Download. Think the local, D.C. version of The Daily from the New York Times or Up First from NPR. Two WTOP staffers now host that show.

“We like the idea of having two hosts on our podcasts for a couple of reasons,” Ziegler said. “We have that built-in backup if one goes on vacation or gets sick. The other aspect of two hosts is there is more of an on-air dynamic. Conversations. You want to have that camaraderie. We’re in that startup phase right now. Seeing where it will all go.”

As a kid, Ziegler said she was ‘normal.’ She was on the cheerleading squad and also played Lacrosse. “I took school seriously; I was always a busy kid. I also had a job in high school.” Ziegler said she worked her way through high school and college under the Golden Arches. 

“There is some statistic that talks about the large number of successful people who have worked at McDonald’s,” Ziegler said. “I think every person in the world should be forced to work for a while in a restaurant or service industry. The number one thing I learned there is customer service. Good customer service is so important. I learned a lot about how I operate from my time at McDonald’s. How to multitask, how to think ahead.”

Ziegler doesn’t appear to put on heirs. “You roll the way you roll. I just try to be me and be authentic,” she said. “I am genuinely happy. I feel lucky. I love my job. The people I work with. This is not an easy business and I think it helps if you love what you do. But Covid has been rough for everyone. Doesn’t matter if you’ve worked here for 50 years or a few weeks, it has been hard.”

Ziegler said she’s always enjoyed working at WTOP, and I believe her. “From the top down, it’s a great place to work. Mission driven work. All after the same goal. We enjoy each other’s company. Cool place to work. Top down. Not blowing smoke.”

She credits Penn State Professor John Sanchez for a lot of her success. Sanchez still teaches at Penn State. When he worked at American University, just down the block from WTOP, he would send interns to work at the station. 

“My internship was the summer before my senior year,” Ziegler said. “I kept in touch with the managers in the newsroom and as graduation was approaching, I asked if they needed any help.”

They told Ziegler they had some freelance work available. It wouldn’t pay much, and there were crazy hours involved. “I said, ‘when can I start?” She knew the power of a station like WTOP. “I got my foot in the door and worked my ass off. I trusted the process, and I loved what I was doing.”

“Jim Farley came to me and asked if I wanted to help start a new station,” Ziegler said. 

Ziegler answered in a manner consistent with her nature. “Sure! Why not?”

Washington Post Radio was a short-lived attempt by Bonneville Broadcasting and The Washington Post to create a commercial long-form all-news radio network in the style of National Public Radio.

“It lasted about two years,” Ziegler said. “I was producing. When the partnership ended with the Post, we kept it a talk station for another year. When that ended, Jim Farley told me since I’d gone on that journey with him, I’d always have a place at WTOP.”

But, for multiple reasons, Ziegler’s journey next took her to Federal News Radio, where she produced and oversaw the website for the next seven years. 

With Washington Post Radio, Ziegler said it was fascinating to be just 24-years-old, and on the ground floor of a startup. It was an expensive venture. “Ultimately, we didn’t get the ratings we’d hoped for. I appreciate that Bonneville was willing to try something different. Hubbard is that way too. They’re not afraid to try new things.” 

Even early in her career, Ziegler was never really on-air. “I’ve never been an anchor,” Ziegler said. “As a reporter, I dabbled here and there. It’s funny; almost every journalist out of school wants to do on-air work. After I started at WTOP and realized what went on behind the scenes, I was hooked.” 

Ziegler said if you asked her mother, she’d tell you she always knew her daughter was going to be a journalist or a writer in some way. “I loved the English classes much more than math and science. I worked on the high school newspaper, the college newspaper. Oddly, I didn’t work for our radio station in college.”

The Ziegler family was always interested in news. “My parents, for as long as I can remember, read the newspaper every single day. It was part of their morning routine. A few years back, they told me they had canceled their subscription to their local paper. I was so upset when they decided to do that. I couldn’t stand it. I told them they had to have a newspaper in their house. I got them a subscription to the Philadelphia Inquirer.”

Because of the number of years she’s worked at WTOP, Ziegler knows the place inside and out, which she says helped when the pandemic hit just three months into her tenure as Director of News and Programming in 2020. 

“I’ve worked for this organization; I’ve seen how everything works operationally. I know where the bodies are buried. Going into the pandemic was obviously uncharted territory, but I felt like my operational strengths really helped during that time. We had to train some of the anchors to work from home, get them equipment. Thank god for our technical team.”

During Covid, she recalls thinking, ‘how do we operate a newsroom when we don’t have a newsroom? To facilitate internal communications, they set up an open conference line. Everyone working from home called into the line each day. In the newsroom, another conference phone sat on the producer’s desk. 

The producer dialed into this every day as well, which allowed those working from home to hear the conversations going on in the newsroom just as if they were there. In a way, it was a newsroom. Anybody could chime in at any time with a question or answer. 

“I was proud of the product we put out,” Ziegler said. 

From covering Covid to the racial justice protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and January 6, Ziegler says it’s been a tough few years. 

“It was like running a marathon within a marathon every day. You passed off the baton every few hours to sleep. I couldn’t be prouder of the team. What we were able to accomplish.” 

While reporters and the web team were asked to work from home during the pandemic, that was not an option for everyone in the newsroom. Producers and associate producers had to work from the office. 

“Some of our anchors worked from home too, but others never left the building,” Ziegler said. “The thought of working from home and trying to produce a great broadcast. There was a lot of anxiety with that. Everybody’s journey has been unique. We respect that, and we have tried to meet them where they are.”

“When I go back and listen to some of those broadcasts, I tell my staff how incredible our coverage actually was. I’d say, “Damn, that was good.’ We got the news out quickly, succinctly. We helped people. That’s our mission every day; to help people.”

While most employees have returned to the WTOP offices, Ziegler said the pandemic has taught WTOP some good lessons about working from home. In the past, if someone had a contractor or delivery coming to the house, they might have to take off work for the entire day. But that’s not the case anymore. Most employees are now set up to work from home if and when the need arises.  

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BNM Writers

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.”

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BNM Writers

Jan. 6th Hearings Draws Roughly 10M Viewers Across Networks

Almost 4.5 million of those viewers tuned in on the three main cable news outlets.

Douglas Pucci

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The second and third days of the hearings focused on the Jan. 6th insurrection at the Capitol took place during the week ending June 19.

For day No. 2 on Monday, June 13, approximately ten million viewers watched across several networks — about half of its opening night audience from June 9. Almost 4.5 million of those viewers tuned in on the three main cable news outlets. Unlike the many other news events of the past two years, the rankings according to their audience figures uniquely reflect the interest level by their respective channel’s typical crowd.

MSNBC, which had also topped its cable brethren on opening night, did so once again in total viewers with averaging 2.49 million from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern, as tabulated by Nielsen Media Research. The network’s two-hour prime time recap later that night (from 8-10 p.m.) drew 2.34 million viewers and 218,000 in the key 25-54 demographic, well above their normal nightly levels.

CNN (from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) posted 1.37 million. Its daytime coverage was cable’s tops among adults 25-54, with an approximate 200,000 within the demo.

Fox News was in the uncharacteristic third place spot with 960,000 total viewers from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For the hearing’s third day (on Thursday, June 16), it was cable’s same ranking order in the daytime hours: MSNBC (noon-4 p.m.) 2.61 million total viewers, CNN (11:59 a.m.-3:45 p.m.) 1.33 million and Fox News (1-4 p.m.) 743,000. Once again, MSNBC aired a recap at night (from 8-10 p.m.) which delivered 2.46 million viewers and 326,000 adults 25-54 — a close runner-up to FNC’s duo of “Carlson” and “Hannity” (2.84 million total/444,000 A25-54 average) and a far outpacing of CNN’s “AC360” and “CNN Tonight” (622,000 total/140,000 A25-54 average). 

Cable news averages for June 13-19, 2022:

Total Day (June 13-19 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.360 million viewers; 210,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.882 million viewers; 100,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.432 million viewers; 91,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.150 million viewers; 47,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.138 million viewers; 32,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.130 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.115 million viewers; 22,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.113 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (June 13-18 @ 8-11 p.m.; June 19 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.198 million viewers; 315,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.423 million viewers; 149,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.504 million viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.182 million viewers; 63,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.182 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.160 million viewers; 27,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.141 million viewers; 17,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.067 million viewers; 8,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.049 million viewers; 6,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs in total viewers:

1. The Five (Fox News Channel, Tue. 6/14/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.351 million viewers

2. The Five (Fox News Channel, Mon. 6/13/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.295 million viewers

3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Tue. 6/14/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.268 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Mon. 6/13/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.200 million viewers

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Wed. 6/15/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.062 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News Channel, Thu. 6/16/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.013 million viewers

7. The Five (Fox News Channel, Thu. 6/16/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.006 million viewers

8. The Five (Fox News Channel, Wed. 6/15/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.998 million viewers

9. January 6th Hearings: Day Two Hearing (MSNBC, Mon. 6/13/2022 10:45 AM, 126 min.) 2.971 million viewers

10. January 6th Hearings: Day Three Hearings (MSNBC, Thu. 6/16/2022 1:01 PM, 165 min.) 2.964 million viewers

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Financial News Media Praises LeBron James

On The Dave Ramsey Show, co-hosts George Kamel and Rachel Cruze discussed LA Lakers star LeBron James becoming a billionaire while still playing.

Rick Schultz

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On a recent episode of The Dave Ramsey Show, co-hosts George Kamel and Rachel Cruze discussed a story that intersected the pop culture world and financial news.

And they used one of the most polarizing athletes of our day to make their point.

According to a report from CBS News, basketball star Lebron James has officially become the first player to reach billionaire status while still in his playing days.

Kamel quoted the article, saying, “After another monster year of earnings, totaling $121.2 million, before taxes and agents fees over the last twelve months, Forbes estimates he’s officially become a billionaire while still playing hoops.”

James has both large numbers of admirers and detractors, often stemming from the argument over who is basketball’s Greatest of All-Time, or G.O.A.T. Some say, James, while others point to Michael Jordan.  

In addition, James has waded purposefully into the political waters as an outspoken supporter of Democratic politicians and their liberal policies. Unfortunately, many feel these policies hurt the very people James supports in so many other ways.

During the show, Kamel and Cruze continued discussing the article, which estimated the net worth of the hardcourt legend to be $1 billion. It quoted James as saying the milestone is important because he wants to maximize his business. 

“He’s commanded more than a $385 million salary from the Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Lakers as the NBA’s highest-paid active player,” Kamel continued, quoting the article. “And off the court, to your point, Rachel, he’s raked in upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures. So he’s a very smart businessman on top of being an incredible athlete.”

“Kinda like Michael Jordan,” Cruze added.

“So, here’s the funny thing,” Kamel said. “This isn’t just why I wanted to talk about this. Yes, he’s a billionaire; that’s an amazing milestone. And it’s a thousand millions for those of you that need to get that picture in your head. But my favorite thing about this story is that he is known as the cheapest player in the NBA.”

The show then cut to an audio clip of former NBA star Dwyane Wade referring to James as “the cheapest guy in the NBA.” James listed a few extras he’s unwilling to pay for, such as data roaming, phone apps, or commercial-free streaming music. 

“Let’s be clear, LeBron James is not living in a shack. He’s got a nice house; I’m sure he’s got nice cars. He’s done really well,” Kamel joked. “But it’s amazing to me the things he goes. I’m not paying three bucks for that.”

“Hey, do you know who else who is not a billionaire but listens to Pandora with commercials,” Cruze asked. 

“Rachel Cruz!” Kamel answered.

“I’m basically like LeBron,” she quipped.

“I want to make it clear, LeBron James is not a cheapskate. In fact, he’s very, very generous,” Kamel made sure to note. “And there’s maybe a connection there; maybe you can speak to this. This is another article from CBS News. Lebron says he’s opening a multi-million dollar medical facility in his Ohio hometown. He’s built the I Promise School in his hometown in Ohio. He’s pledged to send 2300 students to college debt-free through scholarships. So to me, I just go; this guy has a plan for his money. He’s got a vision for where he wants it to go.”

Cruze agreed, discussing the mental approach and discipline needed to make such a significant financial impact.

“It’s not the Pandora subscription that’s going to make you a billionaire. That is not it. But it’s a mindset, too, of seeing what’s wasteful, what’s not. And it’s the same ways of looking at life that really could lead you; I mean, that kind of stuff can play into his business deals. Where he’s like, hmmm, what am I doing, it’s that same thought process that really can make you become successful.”

Ramsey Solutions has preached for years about the necessity of devising a plan for your money and following it rather than simply doing what feels good. They have always been strict adherents to a budget, regardless of how much one has flooded in on the income side of the equation. They also talk extensively about being a good steward and becoming incredibly generous along your journey.

Apparently, LeBron James shares many of the same deeply-held values.

“It’s wisdom with money,” Kamel added.

“LeBron, well done,” Cruze summed up.

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