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Radio Has Been Good To Ron Gleason But He’s Ready For a Change

Gleason recently announced his retirement and will be stepping down in a little less than five months and has been with WBBM since November 2005

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Mark Twain said some people got it wrong about his death. If you’re one of the folks that are certain the Chicago Bears are leaving WBBM, you might end up with a Twain-esque egg on your face.

“I must tell you, WBBM losing the Bears is not official,” said Ron Gleason,  director of news and programming at WBBM in Chicago. “I can understand some are concerned from an economic standpoint, but I don’t see how keeping the Bears on WBBM would be any economic loss.”

However, Gleason did say it would hurt if the Bears did leave the station.

“Not just me, I think it will hurt Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, who have been calling the games on this station for 22  years,” Gleason said. “This is my 22nd year with the Bears broadcast team, and it’s still the only thing I do on the air. Radio is ingrained in all our lives. Sure, it would be hard to take.”

While the Bears leaving WBBM is expected but not etched in stone, Gleason has in fact chiseled out his departure from the station and the business.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Radio is in my blood. I’ve known I wanted to be in radio since I was 12 years old.”

Gleason recently announced his retirement and will be stepping down in a little less than five months. He’s been with WBBM since November 2005, overseeing the station’s expansion from its AM-only signal on the 780 frequency to a simulcast with 105.9 FM in 2011. Radio Ink magazine has named him one of the nation’s top 10 program directors each of the last two years.

That’s the way to do it. Go out with a bang.

“One thing most people don’t understand is that when you’re in sports media, you’re working when everyone else is at leisure,” Gleason explained. “You work nights, weekends, holidays. I can’t tell you how many Thanksgivings, kids’ soccer games, family functions I’ve missed out on, but I wouldn’t trade back for the world.”

Gleason started covering sports while still a senior at Northwestern University. 

“I was a 21-year-old kid who got season credentials to the White Sox, Bears, and Bulls. I had to take public transportation to and from the games. It was the ‘L’ train there or a bus back. We didn’t phone stuff in so I’d go back and cut up tape at the John Hancock building.” 

Following his graduation from Northwestern, Gleason spent a year in Cheboygan, Michigan at WCBY-AM and FM.

“I did tons of high school play-by-play,” Gleason said. “I would call four games each weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. I chose to do a lot of them solo as you got paid $15 bucks alone and only $10 if I worked with a color man. I figured I was working 90 hours a week trying to keep the players’ nicknames straight while sitting at the top of the high school stands in light rain, trying to spot the chains. It was quite an adventure.”

Gleason worked five and a half years at WJOL and WLLI in Joliet, Illinois, before he started his career as a sports reporter and anchor at WBBM. In 1988, he accepted a sports director position at WMAQ, where he also served as backup play-by-play announcer for White Sox baseball.

He stayed three years at WMAQ, until moving to the fledgling WSCR, The Score, as the station’s first director of sports and programming in 1991. At WSCR, Gleason oversaw the station’s launch from daytime-only to 24 hours, with two frequency changes and multiple ownerships.

“When I decided to join The Score, the frequency 830 AM was dark,” Gleason explained. “I agreed to join them as program director in July of that year, but they didn’t have a license at that point. It had been dark due to the previous owner having some FCC issues, but they cleared it up before the deal was consummated.” 

WSCR went daytime on January 2nd. It was very different stuff. A lot of people were skeptical and thought it was going to be a ‘Mickey Mouse’ thing that would quickly fade. 

“Ed Sherman, then the Chicago Tribune’s college football writer, was the first guest,” Gleason said. “He and Tom Shaer discussed the split national championship of Miami and the University of Washington. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and football analyst John Madden called in later that day.”

WSCR was off to the races. 

Gleason said he became aware of all-sports stations when there were about 30 around the country, outside of Chicago. He knew WFAN, and the changes they went through. Switching frequencies, then featured Don Imus. To whet his creative juices, he’d head home.

“I’d go to California and lay on the beach with my radio next to me,” Gleason said. “I used to listen to the Mighty 690 in San Diego, where Jim Rome was a local talk show host at the time. I listened to Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton and the San Diego Chargers. I didn’t listen much to morning radio. I listened to the original Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford. I gleaned a lot listening to them on the beach.”

Comfortable with the WSCR switch, Gleason absolutely knew the format would work. 

“I had a good feeling of what we wanted to sound like,” Gleason said. “First, we wanted to be entertaining. Informational in the morning, but as the day went on we wanted to become more raucous. We felt we could bring in more than just sports. At the time our target audience was men 25-54. We could create a locker room environment with more sports talk.”

Most of the big hirings were made before Gleason arrived. 

“I’d kept in touch, listened to a ton of cassette tapes. I knew the kind of people they were looking for.”

Tom Shaer and Dan MacNeil were onboard before Gleason got there. 

“We had conversations with Brian Hanley, Dan Jiggetts. As we went along I’d put in my two cents.  We had one major slot remaining in mid-December that was still a question mark. We’d talked to a number of people. I’d been listening to tapes for a month. There was a guy named Dan Vogel out of Milwaukee. Bruce Wolf was another guy I considered. I knew Wolf was going to be a great comedic talent, but he wasn’t an X’s and O’s kind of guy so he withdrew his name.”

You’re always looking for that intangible in a hire. At the same time, there are tangible needs.

“We definitely needed somebody who sounded like Chicago, who knew what they were talking about when it came to Chicago sports,” Gleason explained. 

“Whoever we brought on had to understand the Chicago landscape, know all about the teams. Their strengths, their weaknesses. What they’d like to see happen with the teams or what they were already satisfied with.”

Longtime WSCR personality Mike North was an unforeseen find. North had a hotdog business near WXRT. Their employees would go there regularly for lunch and enjoy hearing Mike spout off about sports while serving hot dogs.

“They sold time to Mike North to do what at the time would have been considered a sports handicap show,” Gleason said. “At the time, gambling on games within Illinois wasn’t legal, but you could talk about it. Mike was interesting. I had put his tape on the stereo in my condo at the time. I was with my then-fiance, now wife, and had it on in the background. Suddenly she started laughing, and I asked what she was laughing about. She told me Mike was funny, entertaining. He was talking about sports and my fiance knew nothing about sports, but still enjoyed him. It was the personality she heard. We’ve been together for 30 years now and I learned she is an excellent consumer. There was a time she worked in international books rights for a company. She’d have to look at manuscripts to determine if they should be purchased.” 

Gleason knew North was raw, but his instincts wouldn’t let him go. Gleason sat down with North and told him he’d like to bring him in as a weekend talk show host. 

“He said he appreciated that, but he told me I should hire him for his weekday job. He’d say, ‘Here’s why you should hire me for that job.’ 

Other people we were looking at weren’t right. So, they put Mike North in there without a contract. They figured if he didn’t work, we could make a change.

We decided to pair him with Dan Jigggits and hear what they sounded like,” Gleason said. “Three days after starting on the air, I knew the Jiggetts and North show was gold. We knew after three days we had something special.”

The Monsters of the Midday show, is a twist on the popular Chicago moniker, ‘Monsters of the Midway.’

Gleason knew they had won the figurative lottery. The only problem was the radio numbers didn’t reflect their confidence in this new product. Back then, Gleason said they had a diary system for ratings. But it was delayed and a month behind the date. Two months in, Gleason said the station didn’t show up in the book. 

“In the first quarter, we didn’t see much,’ Gleason said. “But we knew through January, February and March, we were lighting up the phones. Papers were writing everything about us. Conversations were generating gobs of conversation in the marketplace. The teams in the town were upset because they weren’t used to being criticized. We couldn’t understand why we weren’t showing up in the diaries, so we flew out to Laurel, Maryland. We found out a few things. It turned out Arbitron didn’t properly calculate the daytime numbers.” 

Gleason said the ratings were incorrectly correlated from the 820 frequency, which was sold to Westinghouse. 

“Right before we switched to 1160, we were number one in the 25-54 demographic. The radio industry was stunned. How was it possible for a daytime station to be number one in the target audience?” 

Gleason had the distinct pleasure of working with Walter Payton. 

“He was a playful guy, to the hilt,” Gleason said. “I would go and meet with him at his office to sign our contracts. We’d sit down with him and his associates. I reached out to shake his hand and he squeezed so hard it ached. Each ensuing time we met, I’d put out my hand to shake, then instinctively pull it back. I couldn’t go through that pain each time.”

Before going into management, Gleason covered the Bears from 1985-87 and saw the Bears players all the time. 

“I went to the post-game press conferences in a tent under the seats in Soldier Field. It was freezing, the players would come out and talk. One time I dropped something and Walter bent over to pick it up and gave it to me. 

That’s how nice he was. This is the same guy who in the locker room would walk by and pinch your butt.”

As a kid, Gleason worked full-time at night for Chicago’s Sportsphone. 

“Boy, that goes way back,” He said. “I was one of the original full-timers. There was Les Grobstein during the day. I worked with Tom Green at night. It was unbelievable training. I’d give a 60-second recording with sports updates. There was no internet, so we were the sole source. Gamblers were looking for out-of-town scores, and the only way they could get them was by calling this place. It was really cool. We also covered teams, gathered sound.” 

One of the reasons Gleason got into the business was Vin Scully. He grew up in Los Angeles and listened to him call Dodger games. He listened to Chick Hearn call games for the Lakers. Dick Enberg came out of Los Angeles, another Gleason favorite.

“I never met Vin Scully,” Gleason said. “I covered Dodger games once in a while but was a bit intimidated by him. You have to remember I was in awe of this man. I interviewed Chick Hearn for an old sportsline show on WBBM. It was a thrill because he was from Aurora, Illinois. I would listen to every single Dodger game on the air. I kept season statistics on my own, line by line. There was no other way to get that kind of information.”

Gleason is retiring, morphing from going full-throttle every day, to taking his foot off the accelerator completely. It could prove to be tricky. 

“I’m a workaholic, busy 24-7. I’ve been in this particular role for 17 years. Sports is still a part of it. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of retirement, but I don’t want to be involved in business around the clock anymore. I’d like to keep my hands in it. 

I want to be able to do what I want. I have a place in the desert in South Carolina. I also want to be able to turn something down by telling them, ‘I’m on a three-week vacation’.”

Bon Voyage 

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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.

Douglas Pucci




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

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BNM Writers

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.

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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.”

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BNM Writers

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.

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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. 

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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.

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