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Sean Spicer Couldn’t Be Happier Hosting Show for Newsmax

Spicer is happy with his Newsmax program since he wakes up every day, scans the news, and calls guests he’d like to talk with on the show.

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Sean Spicer is from New England, someone we might refer to as a ‘normal American.’ But, as anyone would, Spicer seemed amazed and humbled by the privilege of working in the White House for the President of the United States. Lofty positions often come from humble beginnings.

“I watched my parents struggle financially,” Spicer said. You could feel there was something going on in the background. There were school trips we couldn’t afford to take. We’d planned a family vacation but dad ended up working.”

He said his parents hid things well but never missed a soccer game or baseball game. “They had a lot of love and character. If that is a form of wealth, then my parents were amazingly wealthy. I was always very clear about how we grew up.”

Spicer said he grew up near families with all the accessories of monetary wealth but said, “Looking back, it’s all about the time we spend with our kids. Experiences they won’t be able to get anywhere else.”

“That’s what we try to instill in our kids,” Spicer said. “I hope they remember when we went camping or fishing. The long and short of it is, we grew up very middle class. My mom was a homemaker for a long while, and my father sold boats.” 

Spicer’s grandmother told him all good boys in Rhode Island went to Portsmouth Abbey. “I was a good kid, so I figured that’s where I’d go. It’s a Benedictine boarding and day school. I had no idea what it cost; I was a kid. My mother went to work at Brown. She managed the East Asian programming office.” 

His father sold boats until that business hit the skids. Then he sold insurance. “We had what could be called a year-to-year existence,” Spicer explained. 

Spicer served as assistant United States trade representative for media and public affairs in the George W. Bush administration. One year he took on the role of the Easter Bunny to entertain children at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

“That costume had been around since Kennedy,” Spicer explained. “If you’re the first one in the morning to use it, it doesn’t stink. I think you can’t be afraid to have fun. If you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point? I’ve been Santa Claus. I have an Elmo costume. I used it when my kids were younger. I’m not sure where it is now.” 

Next to the Superman outfit?

Spicer is the host of “Spicer&Co” on Newsmax. He thinks his show is the only one on television that features people with skin in the game. People who have been inside the thing they’re talking about.

“I can literally look at any situation and quickly determine what was going on and why this situation was happening,” Spicer said. “Lindsay Keith has worked with technology. She’s worked the Republican convention. We have conversations with our guests that can expand on the conversation. We have fun and have conversations.”

Spicer said they play Company Quiz on Friday, a fun way to end the week.

“We’ll talk about segments we’ve done that week, about people who have been on the panel. It’s a fun way for people to wind down.”

Before his show on Newsmax in 2020, Spicer said he’d known Newsmax CEO and majority owner Chris Ruddy for a while.

“He had been at Newsmax when I left the White House,” Spicer said. “We had a conversation, and Chris said there’d be some changes in the lineup. He was building shows at that point. I was involved in some of the early growth of the channel.”

For his show, Spicer said you have to prepare and determine what you’re going to ask. 

“On the flip side of that, at the White House, I had to figure out how I was going to respond to press questions. It’s a different dynamic. I’d rather be on offense than defense.” 

Spicer is happy with his show. He said he wakes up every day, scans the news, and calls guests he’d like to talk with on the show. Other times, he’ll call someone to get some perspective on a story. Some of my best questions come from listening to the guest talking. You just said X; what about Y? Some of the best stuff comes out of that. 

“I do that to get more background on a story so I can explain it further,” Spicer said. “I’m a news and political junky. They’re both in my wheelhouse.

I have a lot of phone numbers in my Rolodex. Between my time at the White House and on Capitol Hill, I ended up knowing a lot of people.” 

If you’ve ever watched SNL parody Spicer, you probably experienced guttural laughter. McCarthy portrayed Spicer as an angry, vindictive, and aggressive man behind a mobile podium. 

“I was never angry at Melissa McCarthy,” Spicer insists. “She was playing a part, and I get that. I thought the first one was funny. Then it started to get personal. She became angry and visceral. I’ve learned to not take myself so seriously. But I know how to give as well as I take.”

Spicer said he doesn’t speak negatively of anyone, particularly his former employers. 

“If you look back throughout my career, I don’t think you can find a negative thing. If you can’t be trusted as a friend, colleague, family member, what good are you? You’ve got to be trustworthy. If there’s one thing somebody could say about me, it’s that I’m loyal.”

Some might say he’s loyal to a fault. To those watching on television, Donald Trump subjected Spicer to public and private humiliations that would have made any normal human being quit on the spot. Spicer didn’t quit.

“People say, ‘Oh, you’ll never turn on Trump,” Spicer said. “I don’t believe you can go work with someone who has shared strategy and confidence, and the second you leave, you’re going to tell stories about them.”

Spicer said, “It’s all about loyalty, even if you feel something else. That’s the point of a press secretary or communications officer.” 

“There’s plenty of times I’ve thought someone was a jerk or couldn’t believe they said this or that,” Spicer said. “But I’m not going to betray their trust.

If I’m hired by someone, I’m going to give them the best counsel possible. I’ll say this is what I think you should do or shouldn’t do. It doesn’t always mean I agree with a policy. My goal is to try to get them in the best possible position. My job is to be their spokesperson, not convey my own beliefs.” 

He’s written several books, but publishers were asking him early after his departure from the White House to write a tell-all book. 

“I wanted some record of what I actually believed. They wanted something salacious, and I wouldn’t do that,” Spicer said. “When the book was being auctioned, one of the literary agents I spoke with was telling me about all the projects he’d worked on. He didn’t want me to go about it with any dignity. I refused and left a lot of money on the table. People couldn’t believe it. I don’t think it’s worth a couple of hundred grand to sell your integrity. You lose your integrity when you sell those people out.”

Spicer said at the end of the day, as a press secretary, you’re not the principal person in the situation. 

“At the same time, you’re not a bump on a log,” he said. “Your name isn’t on the door. I’ll give you the best possible advice. I might say I agree with you 100 percent, 50 percent, or not at all. My job is to help them, not say, ‘don’t do that.’ I give my honest opinion, and that doesn’t always go over well.”

To Spicer, it’s all about doing the job you’re hired to do.

“Imagine you’re a batter for the Red Sox. Cora calls for a bunt, but you think, ‘I can hit this guy.’ At the end of the day, you’re the player; he’s the coach. You can make your case, but the call is his. Not every profession has that equivalency, but the concept is the same. 

When the time came for Spicer to leave the White House and the tumultuous Trump, he saw the writing on the wall.

“I’ll walk you through what happened,” Spicer said. “Being White House press secretary will unequivocally go down as one of the greatest honors in my life. 

At three different times, I’d been press secretary and communications director. There were times I assumed both roles. People need to understand that those are two separate jobs.”

In July of 2016, President Trump decided to name Anthony Scaramucci the White House communications director. So it’s safe to say Spicer knew it wasn’t going to end well. 

“I’d known Anthony,” Spicer said. “He’s highly successful, but he’d never worked in government, media, or communications. I know what goes into these roles. I knew it wasn’t going to go well, and I was going to be the one blamed for that.”

So this was the perfect time for Spicer to go to the president. The lights were flashing, and he saw his off-ramp. So this was the time to take the exit. 

“I told the president it was the right time for a reset,” Spicer explained. “You wanted Anthony to be your communications director. You should get a new press secretary as well. President Trump said, ‘No.’ He was generous to me, but it was the perfect time. It made sense to step down right then. God gives you off ramps. God might well have said, ‘Sean, here’s your off-ramp because there is a crash ahead. I got off on my own terms.’”

Spicer didn’t take Scaramucci’s hiring personally. “I guess I was shocked it only lasted ten days, but I knew it wasn’t going to last.”

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Telling The Audience What You Think They Want to Hear Won’t Help You Grow

“Calling out each candidate’s positives and negatives isn’t picking one over the other, it’s opining on the news of the day.”



Photo Credit: iStock

It’s OK to not always tell your audience what you think they want to hear. 

I have been writing that phrase down at the top of my notepad before I start my show for the last two weeks. Something tells me I will need it for at least another 12 months.

In the last week alone there have been two major topics that have divided News Talk audiences across the country: The debt-ceiling debate and the brewing Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis feud.

And as I’ve listened to talented hosts and perused the social media landscape, I’ve noticed a hesitancy that I usually would not expect. 

Granted, for the last two years it’s been relatively easy when talking about the national political scene: Joe Biden is a disaster. Whether it’s economic policy, border policy or foreign policy, most Americans don’t believe the guy is doing a good job. The News Talk audience, generally speaking, thinks he’s doing a terrible job.

That’s shooting fish in a barrel. But now comes the hard(er) work. 

Starting with the debt-ceiling drama, there was a big divide amongst Republicans in the House of Representatives. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support, however dozens of Republicans, many of the most conservative members of the House, voted against the bill, saying it did not do enough to cut spending

As a result, it seemed many hosts, who assume their audience blindly aligns with everything the most-conservative members of the House say, were hesitant to point out the obvious: Explain what better deal you were getting when you only had a small majority in the House, and no control over the Senate or the White House?

It was a question I never got a good answer to on my show.

Republicans already picked up a win getting Biden to the negotiating table after he spent months saying he wanted a clean debt-ceiling raise with no spending cuts attached. Speaker Kevin McCarthy won, got some concessions, and slowly began turning the tide towards hopefully Senate and White House victories in 2024, when then the real work can begin on getting spending under control. This was a victory.

And while no one with any levels of fiscal sanity believes our government’s spending isn’t wildly out of control, that is a separate conversation from whether or not this was a good or smart deal. 

Then, there’s the Trump vs. DeSantis feud. Some have staked their claim with one candidate over the other. Some are trying to toe the line and avoid all conflict. Neither approach makes sense to me.

The obvious approach seems to me to analyze the candidate’s based on what they do and say on a given day. There will be good and bad days for Trump. DeSantis will have his up and down moments. I can guarantee this because they’re flawed human beings like the rest of us.Like every election season, it will ebb and flow, and eventually someone will come out on top.

Calling out each candidate’s positives and negatives isn’t picking one over the other, it’s opining on the news of the day.

If you compare this to sports talk radio, a national host talking about the NFL Playoffs doesn’t have to have a preferred team, but he or she has to have something to say that’s interesting, compelling, honest, thought-provoking and entertaining.

If they don’t do this, they’ll become wallpaper in a world of too many media options. 

If you have the trust of your audience, you’re real, honest, engaging and thoughtful, you won’t lose your audience. You’ll keep them engaged and you’ll grow it.

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Why Did Newsmax Allow Rep. Matt Gaetz to Host An Unchallenged TV Program?

“A sitting politician hosting a show also doesn’t allow for a variety of opinion. It gives them the ability to deceive their audience, delude their constituents and impact lives in the name of lies.”

Jessie Karangu



Photo Credit: Newsmax

Representing your constituents in Congress used to be a mark of honor. It was a position that came with pride and respect. At least that’s what I’ve heard from older relatives who lived in an America that was supposedly more united. Today, depending on the individual, the position doesn’t usually come with too much regard if any at all. Congress has an all-time low approval rating and many representatives go into the job plotting their next money-making move in the process. 

The cable news circuit has slowly but surely built a bench of potential hosts from current and former Congressmen. Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz is a Fox News commentator, Trey Gowdy is a host on Fox News, Joe Scarborough is MSNBC’s morning show anchor and most recently Rep. Matt Gaetz anchored his own hour for Newsmax. As much as some members of Congress roast young Gen Zers for their tenacity when it comes to TikTok, these men are just as eager for the wrong kind of attention and spotlight. 

A former Congressman on television can provide perspective that gives context to current issues the country faces. On Scarborough’s morning show, he often harkens back to past negotiations and talks he had with fellow lawmakers. At times, he even uses those connections to find out the inside scoop about something that’s happening in the moment. Current Congressmen who appear on shows as guests also get to talk directly to their constituents hopefully alongside a host that is willing to challenge them on the issues of the day and not simply allow them to lead the audience astray. 

For Newsmax to allow Rep. Gaetz to host a show though, is a disgrace to a medium of television that already like Congress doesn’t have much acclaim. With that being said, even for cable news, this is a major low and it should never happen on either side of the aisle. Politicians are elected to serve but are also forced to make tough decisions. These choices are answerable to the American people. When a Congressman is allowed to spew their thoughts uncensored, it takes attention away from the issues that really matter. 

A sitting politician hosting a show also doesn’t allow for a variety of opinion. It gives them the ability to deceive their audience, delude their constituents and impact lives in the name of lies. Unless Gaetz had a co-host that was a journalist questioning his takes, how does an unchallenged show truly serve the public – an oath he agreed to partake in when he took on his role as a Congressman. 

Gaetz’s appearance is also a waste of tax dollars. The people of Florida who elected him into office expect Gaetz to be working with fellow lawmakers to make their lives better. They expect him to be doing research or reading up on bills that can bring the change he’s promised to his voters. Instead, he used the resources of hard-working Floridians to moonlight into his next career and spew misinformation that can prove harmful to the public.

If we allow more serving Congressmen to host their own cable talk shows on such a widely distributed platform, will we reach a day when lawmakers exclusively negotiate bills on television? Will Congressmen be more worried about ratings than results? We’ve already seen what happens when a President reigns over a populous and only rules based on what he sees on television. We’ve also seen the political implications that come with such unjustly behavior. Cable news networks will suffer the moral consequences of their actions while politicians who dare to try this act again will eventually face the demise of their legacy in the voting booth. Be careful.

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Sales Productivity Protects You From Hedge Fund Uncertainty

“The good news is that most radio station clusters are still very profitable. The bad news, the debt makes many clusters unprofitable.”

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Almost 30 years ago, Radio station ownership limits were lifted, and Wall Street saw an opportunity. But the hedge funds didn’t understand the business and created mayhem in a still vital industry.

I worked in New York City for over 6 years. I had the opportunity to spend time around the brain trust of Wall Street. These Masters of the Universe saw the weakness of the radio industry and thought that they had all the answers. 

Well, they didn’t. 

I will give you some history from my perspective. My first 16 years were spent working for family run operations. Both of these companies were managed by third generation operators who put people and community first. These were highly successful operations with large staffs. 

I am not looking back with rose colored glasses. No organization is perfect or without unique challenges. But people were first in these broadcast companies. Both of my first employers had top consultants to give strong outside the organization feedback. Both companies had General Managers that catered to both the programming and sales departments. 

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the biggest overhaul of telecommunications law in 62 years. It was widely thought that this would bring radio into modern times. Consolidation has been a landmark of American Business, so, Wall Street’s Hedge Funds saw an opening.  Radio station owners sold for insane profits. Longtime owners were able to sell stations for multiples of up to 30 times meaning that if an owner had a station earning 1 million dollars, they could sell it for 30 million dollars. Quite a return (Most stations didn’t go that high but multiples of 18-25 were very common during this period).  

Wall Street looked at radio like the pickle industry. Except there was an issue. Radio did not have hundreds of workers in each location. You couldn’t move all operations to a central hub and save HUGE money, that would justify strong ROI. So, radio ended up with several large owners (by the way, I am not criticizing iHeart, Audacy, Cumulus and the other large owners). 

When larger companies developed, they went public selling stock to individual shareholders and institutional investors. The market states that companies show a certain amount of revenue growth per year. Let’s say that number is 10%. Radio is interesting, we are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. You cannot just build new radio stations. So, companies were forced to merge or expand to meet revenue goals. Wall Street encouraged and even demanded it. 

Here was the problem – radio companies acquired an unsupportable amount of debt that could never be paid back. The Hedge Funds just moved cash around and demanded companies cut staff and consolidate management. It was a blood bath. Any of us who entered this business in the 90’s saw this. Great broadcasters, salespeople, managers were forced out because of unsustainable debt and micromanaging Hedge Funds.  

On the local level, new clusters were forced to protect the biggest biller in the group. This was not set to grow revenue; it was to protect the revenue and keep the spreadsheets looking right. I know of stations that were more successful brands in ratings in a cluster than the cash cow but if you were the Program Director who was consistently beating the cash cow, your job was in jeopardy.  This was a reverse hunger games caused by debt, fear and shortsightedness. 

So, here we are.

The good news is that most radio station clusters are still very profitable. 

The bad news, the debt makes many clusters unprofitable.

Even though a couple of the bigger companies have gone bankrupt, they’re not bankruptcy situations where assets were liquidated creating a market-based value of these properties. It was essentially a negotiation to lower the debt, and did not move these companies to become cash positive operations again. 

Why do the Hedge Funds not cut their losses and move on? Now that is a great question.  Hedge funds handle billions of dollars. They bundle bad deals with great deals and so their investors don’t seem to have a problem if they see enough of a profit at the end of the month, quarter or year. People remember the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. Hedge Funds were bundling bad mortgages with good ones. Soon the bad overcame the market. Thus, a crash.  The homes never went away. The value of real estate fell dramatically in many places.

Are people still listening to us? 80% of Americans do. Not the 93% of a decade or so ago (Pew Research). This is much better than local TV where only 63% of Americans watch local TV News.

But what is the future?

It is entirely up to Hedge Fund involvement. Will Hedge Funds cut their losses and move on?  If that occurs, will local broadcasters rise again? 

What can YOU do?

It is all about the billing. If you are billing a lot more than you cost, the company will need you, and indispensability is what corporate leaders will see. Make yourself available for Sales. If you are the morning talent, be dressed well enough for a sales call. Make yourself available a few times each week to meet clients. Let salespeople know about the products and services that you use. Radio personalities are influencers. They have huge audiences that listen every day.  Don’t forget your advantage. We cannot control the Hedge Funds, corporate debt or a fast-changing marketplace. 

This was not an exhaustive history, but it illustrates our challenges. Radio programming departments are filled with creative people who just want to entertain. Be aware of our weaknesses and strengths. The Market Manager and sales manager are under huge pressure.  Be that person who understands their concerns.

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