Dave Ramsey and Ken Coleman are known for offering honest, heartfelt advice to radio show callers who request it. When you ask, there will be no sugarcoating.
On a recent episode of The Ramsey Show, the two took a call from Allen in Pennsylvania, who asked, “Some legislators in my state are introducing a bill to do a study on universal basic income. At this point, it’s just a proposal to do a study, but I was curious what your thoughts are on the government providing low-income people with a monthly stipend. I know other parts of the world have introduced forms of it to varying degrees of success.”
The non-sugarcoating took about two seconds.
“I’m not a fan of any type of universal basic income,” Coleman, the network’s guru on careers and jobs, began. “For a variety of reasons. I’m going to try and keep this short. First and foremost, it does not create incentive. It does not allow someone to see the value of showing up and putting in some work. And we know from human behavior, and we saw this in the United States, it’s why we’re in the inflationary period that we’re in.
“When we give out more money – and unemployment benefits were increased and extended – people spent the money. People don’t save the money. People need dignity of work to get up, go do something, get paid, and watch themselves continue to make progress.”
From Coleman’s perspective, the path from socialism’s initial seduction to its violent, painful consequences is to be noted.
“The argument for people that are pro-stipend, and I’m seeing this all over the place, in the United States, being tested in multiple cities right now, and it is a social entitlement. An entitlement, if you look at the word in the dictionary, I’ll let you do it on your own, it does not create incentive. It actually de-incentivizes people and they end up misusing it. So for that reason, I’m not a fan of it at all. And it’s also a slippery slope to a universal income across the board, which we see in socialistic countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and more. Go do your homework on how that has worked out.”
There is a reason humans from these countries risk their lives, flocking to America for the allure of its free-market economic system.
“Generally speaking, if you study history, communism has failed,” Ramsey said. “For the little man to get ahead, capitalism in its current form today, is not perfect. But it is by far — in human history, all of human history — at this moment in time in the United States of America the little man has a better chance of getting ahead and becoming somebody than he has in any other government situation, in any other economic situation, in human history. This is straight out of the Karl Marx playbook. This is not out of the Adam Smith playbook. Let me help you with that. Karl Marx, father of communism.”
Regardless of what American children are taught in government schools, the first Thanksgiving celebration was not a result of Pilgrims and Indians becoming friends.
It was because William Bradford and the early Americans had seen the death and destruction caused by communal living, and the subsequent prosperity created when they adjusted to a capitalistic system of personal freedom and incentive. Legendary radio host, Rush Limbaugh, used to deliver this true account each year before his Thanksgiving break. He then put it in writing in his children’s book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.
“What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years — trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it — the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently,” Limbaugh said in November of 2020, just months before passing away. “What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every school child’s history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering.”
Ramsey seemed to echo those sentiments when continuing to discuss universal basic income on his radio program.
“My friend, Art Laffer, one of the leading economists in the world, says that if you pay people to not work, please expect them to not work,” Ramsey added.
“That’s pretty deep,” Coleman retorted.
“If I thought, with my 40-plus years in the financial world, that this was hopeful to people, I would be for it. Even though I am a staunch capitalist. Just set me on fire and I burn capitalism. I believe in it to the core of my being. And if you don’t like that, that’s ok. Go start your own show. This is mine,” Ramsey said, in his immutable style.
“If I honestly thought that if you were struggling financially, if you came up in a family in a socioeconomic setting on a lower rung of the ladder, your best shot at life, of having a high-quality life, was a universal income, I would say go for it. But I don’t think it is.”
In his groundbreaking hit book Who Really Cares, author Arthur Brooks details how individuals, rather than powerful, controlling government rulers, have the most profound impact in helping their fellow neighbor. And this stems from personal responsibility, incentive, and achievement.
“As a matter of fact, all of my experience and all of the data we have at Ramsey indicates that your best quality of life is when your character is increased with grit, discipline, and calluses. The ability to overcome obstacles gives you much more joy than the dull hum of communism. It puts you to sleep,” Ramsey noted.
Those who side with Ramsey’s opinion on the matter know that offering people freebies not to work is nothing new. Humans have succumbed to these enticing powers – greed, envy and jealousy – since their first days on earth. How dare someone have more than me! We need to “spread the wealth around” to make it fair, a recent Democratic president blurted.
But the results from centuries of human experiments prove that socialism – whether well intended or not – leads to the prosperity of the rulers and only misery for the vast majority of the people.
“If the welfare system worked, people would be sprinting out of these government-funded ghettos into a wonderful life. Instead, they’ve set up camp there, generationally,” Ramsey said.
Many believe liberals and Democrats purposefully keep the poor in squalor, creating in them a perpetual need for someone to “help” them. In other words, they want the poor to remain poor and dependent on them. This is where they derive their power. What other reason would they have not to celebrate conservative policies, specifically those recently implemented by President Donald Trump, which helped such a wide swath of the nation’s most impoverished citizens.
And this issue need not be drawn in partisan terms, Republican versus Democrat. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., recently pointed out that America has devolved into “a cushy socialism for the rich and this kind of brutal, merciless capitalism for the poor.”
All the while, proponents of basic government handouts say it is a matter of compassion.
“I have more compassion than you do if you believe in this crap,” Ramsey said. “Because it’s not good for you. It’s not good for someone. The people that think capitalism doesn’t work are the ones that grew up here and were trained by a tenured professor who believes in Karl Marx more than he does in Adam Smith. And they were taught by some idiot college professor that this stuff actually works.”
Some in favor of similar socialistic schemes, such as taking from high-income earners to give handouts to lower-income citizens, highlight the “success” of such programs in other countries across the world.
“Let’s just keep in mind here, Sweden, the entire population of Sweden, the entire gross domestic product output of Sweden is way smaller than Dallas. Ok? So you can’t really extrapolate that size of an economy to the size of an economy like ours and say something works. So that’s just bonehead, asinine analysis. That’s just crap,” Ramsey said. “What does work is this — incentive. What does work is a belief. That if I leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home, I get to keep it and the government won’t take it from me.”
Coleman and Ramsey then recounted some of the many stories they had personally heard, both at their company in Nashville and from callers to the show, about everyday people turning a little initiative and hard work into unimagined prosperity.
“That is individualism, which by the way is the opposite of communism. Community. Communal is the root word and they twist it,” Coleman said. “America works because it allows people the freedom to be who they want to be.”
And for the example that hits closest to home, Ramsey concluded the segment by pointing to his own life and entrepreneurial journey.
“I know a guy that’s so stupid that he filed bankruptcy. Because he was so bad at handling money. And he’s made millions of dollars teaching people how to live on less than they make. What a country!”
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
The Time is Right For Rupert Murdoch to Leave, But Is it Right For Fox News?
Murdoch may have never wanted to retire but there’s probably no reason for him to stay. His work is finished.
The writers of Succession couldn’t write the script we saw come into full display on Thursday. Out of nowhere, one of the most consequential media leaders of our time decided to resign. Rupert Murdoch will ride off into the sunset having left a legacy that has changed media and the state of our democracy forever.
Rupert Murdoch has elected presidents, changed mindsets, and caused hysteria and pandemonium for billions of people over the course of his career. It may not be hyperbolic to say he is one of the few media titans who could’ve had a direct impact on your personal life. Whether you love him or hate him, he was successful at the machine he wanted to create. He has decisively been a shadow emperor of the Western world for the past 20-40 years.
Because of the blueprint he has set in stone, don’t expect Fox News to ever change, even if he isn’t at the helm any longer. The fact is that numbers don’t lie. Fox News commands retransmission fees that are comparable to ESPN, TNT, and the USA Network without carrying any live sporting events. It is one of Fox’s biggest revenue generators despite losing an epic lawsuit to Dominion. It is one of the networks keeping the cable bundle alive and will help prolong it as much as possible because of its existing base.
Speaking of its base, the fact that it has a base in the first place speaks volumes. Fox News has something every other network on television only envies: super fans. There have been pitfalls along the way over the past three or four years but in general, Fox News finds a way to consistently beat its opponents in the demo as well as in overall viewers.
The network has had to switch out hosts for various reasons over the past couple of years but because of its formula of storytelling and team building, viewers don’t leave in droves.
It may not be journalism but it is the perfect way to keep allegiances and it has worked for Fox. Whether it was his tabloids, his syndicated shows, or his news network, Rupert Murdoch has always insisted on creating an environment of “Us vs. Them” for a group of people whose unique diversity is often underestimated. Murdoch has consistently found a way to turn anger and fear into dollars and if it ain’t broke, why fix the Fox?
The successor taking over for Rupert Murdoch also isn’t an unfamiliar seed of discomfort and madness. Lachlan Murdoch has had a say and has been in discussions about Fox’s direction for decades. Some reports say that his own way of thinking is to the right of his father. If there is any child of Rupert’s who supports the path of destruction and illusion that Fox News has created over time, it’s Lachlan.
One of the few problems that Fox may face is purely logistical. It has been reported that Lachlan enjoys living in Australia more than the United States. Operating a television behemoth from another continent could be risky, especially after the behemoth has allowed anchors to vomit election lies on screen and allegedly commit sexual assault off-screen. But that shouldn’t affect the network’s ability to operate because Lachlan has already been serving as co-chair even before this week’s announcement.
One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t expect Fox to change is because they’re the only network that has broken the code. Newsmax, Megyn Kelly, Glenn Beck, and Tucker Carlson have tried or are trying. But they haven’t been successful. They achieved a level of prosperity in their own right but their numbers and margins of profitability are nowhere close to what Fox News makes. Their concurrent reach cannot even be compared.
The closest rival that has been able to penetrate some sort of mainstream relevance, although exclusively online, is The Daily Wire. And yet even with Ben Shapiro’s respective empire, it will be hard to match what Fox makes because of the business model Fox falls under. There isn’t any imminent competition that could drag Fox down and truly challenge the amount of viewers they receive or the kind of money they make.
Murdoch may have never wanted to retire but there’s probably no reason for him to stay. His work is finished. His worldview has a daily effect on the lives of billions. As the business models for media continue to change, it’s better to leave at the top than to try to solve the next problem.
Titans like Bob Iger and Mark Thompson could look back at Murdoch’s decision years ago and wonder why they didn’t leave as a champion as he did. Unless there was a pie coming at his face during a hearing in the United Kingdom, one of the biggest strengths of Rupert Murdoch is that he always knew when the time was right.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
What News/Talk Can Learn From A Sports Host Like Mad Dog Russo
How are you taking the news that is relevant in our space and making it stand out to the audience and making it relatable to your audience?
Sports media had one of its best viral moments in recent memory this week when Chris “Mad Dog” Russo shared his Saturday college football plans with the audience of ESPN’s First Take.
Russo was talking with Stephen A. Smith and Marcus Spears about this weekend’s game between Colorado and Oregon when Molly Qerim told Russo to share with the rest of the panel his plans for the weekend.
Russo went on to describe his Saturday afternoon, blow-by-blow, which included a cocktail and “half a THC gummy” for the noon ET games. After the first slate of games, Russo planned to make a call to his bookie, place a $10,000 bet on Colorado to beat Oregon, and then another cocktail, along with the “other half” of his gummy.
It was pure entertainment from Russo. He wasn’t trying too hard, it wasn’t over the top, but it was brilliant content.
The clip has been viewed millions of times since it aired because it was real, relatable, honest, funny, self-deprecating and delivered perfectly.
Only a handful would have seen or heard this clip, other than those watching the show in real-time, had they just done the standard “media talking heads break down the big college football game of the weekend”. But to Russo’s credit, he likely understands in today’s media landscape that the die-hards who want a full Oregon-Colorado breakdown can get that in a ton of different places in 2023. What’s he going to bring that’s unique, different, and stands out? And that’s exactly what he did.
As it pertains to news/talk radio, or news media at large, how do you have that Mad Dog-Gummy moment? It doesn’t need to literally be you talking about taking gummies before the next GOP debate on September 27th (although anything that helps get through one of those disasters would be welcomed). But how are you taking the news that is relevant in our space and making it stand out to the audience and making it relatable to your audience?
While it’s anecdotal, whenever I bump into KCMO listeners, the biggest feedback on the show is not my takes on Trump, Biden, Kansas City city council, or anything else for that matter, it’s, “I like when you talk about your girls.”
I have two daughters, four and two, who are absolutely incredible, entertaining, and yes, nightmare toddlers sometimes. When it’s relevant and topical, I will bring them up. I talk about them far less than the news, but they’re the “topic” that always gets the organic feedback.
Like Russo’s moment, it gives the audience insight into who we are as people, beyond what we think about the topic(s) of the day.
This doesn’t mean that a four-hour show should be about your weekend plans or your kids throwing up in their beds at night (although I could rip off a few of those stories and kill a few segments). But picking and choosing those moments will help you stand out in an overcrowded media landscape where the audience has options galore and needs more reasons than ever to come back to you and your show.
Give them insight into not just you the host/personality, but you the person.
I can’t think of the last time cable news or news talk had a viral moment like Mad Dog Russo. But maybe you can be next.
Pete Mundo is the morning show host and program director for KCMO in Kansas City. Previously, he was a fill-in host nationally on FOX News Radio and CBS Sports Radio, while anchoring for WFAN, WCBS News Radio 880, and Bloomberg Radio. Pete was also the sports and news director for Omni Media Group at K-1O1/Z-92 in Woodward, Oklahoma. He’s also the owner of the Big 12-focused digital media outlet Heartland College Sports. To interact, find him on Twitter @PeteMundo.
A News/Talk Radio Autopsy After the BNM Summit
The news/talk audience is getting older. This is somewhat self-inflicted. We are still doing our shows in the same template Rush Limbaugh innovated in 1987. Time to change it up.
After the inaugural BNM Summit, I was more excited about our industry after the two-day event. Radio in many ways is a solitary pursuit.
Teamwork is sometimes not a factor in a morning show with a cast. You walk into the studio, put on the headphones, turn on the mic and go. I needed some excitement, some good news, and the chance to meet new friends and renew longtime relationships. I got it.
As an industry, we have been pummeled by bad headlines: some of which are self-inflicted, and some are challenges for our future. If you believe the headlines, smelting lead would be a better career choice. I don’t believe that, and you shouldn’t either. While smelting lead seems like an exciting career other than the whole lead poisoning thing, perhaps that is better than radio station break room coffee.
Have you ever considered how bad radio station coffee is? I don’t drink it. I drink a pot of my own before I strut into the office. Perhaps, it is time to call any reputable health inspector in to inspect that thicker than tar swill.
Radio is a terrific profession. How many jobs provide more laughs than broadcasting? It is fun. I have worked a bit outside the radio industry. Real-world jobs suck. Our stations develop awesome advertising campaigns for clients. Why not us? We don’t publicize our strengths. Podcasts are great, but when did a podcast raise money for the local foster children? When did a podcast show up at a client’s office with a smile and donuts? TikTok? Those Chinese Communist bastards are poisoning our kids. YouTube? Cool content, but the Google-owned platform is as likely to build commonalities with your neighbors as a lion is likely to lay down with a lamb.
Radio is a cool job. One where you can make a difference. It’s not exactly like Mother Theresa…. but it’s better than being an influencer on Instagram.
I am ranting.
You know who I am sick of? The radio coroner gang. Radio still reaches a majority of the American public. Your local big network TV affiliates may reach less than 40% of the public. They are no longer a big deal. Don’t give them any respect. Those jerks don’t deserve it, except for that pretty reporter who would be lucky to be my next wife. I know that I am old enough to be her dad, but hey, old dudes need love, too.
Radio is vital and needed. Radio needs to look itself in the mirror and say “We are essential”. I was in the room in Nashville with men and women who see a future. The BNM Summit delivered that.
By the way, the brother and sisterhood at the BNM Summit was strong. I haven’t been hugged this much since a family reunion. I wish that you could have been there. It was amazing. I really was pumped up. We matter. You matter. Your ideas are important.
We have challenges. We need to address issues with Gen Z and the generations to follow them. Radio does have issues with innovation. We run the same clocks that we did in 1970. We sweep the corners, which is stupid and does not reflect actual radio listening. If you are in a PPM market and are sweeping the corners, reevaluate your tune-ins per hour. Look at that carefully. So, your host comes out of the break at :27, and news is at “30. I guarantee your tune-out rate is through the roof.
You need 5 minutes of continuous listening to get credit. A listener is as likely to start listening at 23 minutes past the hour than almost any other time. Yet, we still sweep the corners. It’s insane. You may not like PPM. It is a fair assessment, but adapt or die. We have not adapted to PPM and radio has been using this technology for well over a decade.
The news/talk audience is getting older. This is somewhat self-inflicted. We are still doing our shows in the same template Rush Limbaugh innovated in 1987. Time to change it up. PPM gives us tools. If you delight in being a political insider, you are going to demo old. Go to a political event. It is geezer-rific. Talk about the interests of a 45-year-old. You can beat this. You have the tools, you have the data, and you have the talent.
I was watching a YouTube video on East St. Louis. That city in Illinois is now one of the most violent places in the USA. It was not always that way. East St. Louis was once a vibrant community with a bustling downtown, strong industry, and a great future. The community got complacent, and the employers started to leave. The city was not focused on growing and it has become a shell of the great place it was at one time.
Radio needs to look at that. What is next? Where is the innovation? How do we change the momentum? It’s all up to us. There are thought leaders in our industry reading this. These are brilliant people. I don’t claim to have the answers, but I know where we need to focus.
Being in the room with amazing leaders in the radio industry brought me more excitement. The BNM Summit was exactly what I needed. I could not be more enthusiastic about our future. Am I naïve? Perhaps. Do I understand the power of radio? Absolutely.
The power is in your hands. May every moment on your radio station essential.
Peter Wilkinson Thiele is a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. He currently serves as the program director, and morning host of Newstalk KZRG in Joplin, MO. Additionally, Peter has held programming roles in New York City, San Francisco, Little Rock, Greenville and Hunstville. He has also worked as a host, account executive and producer in Minneapolis, and San Antonio. You can reach him on Twitter at @PeterThiele.