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Larry Gifford Has Experienced Great Radio in the U.S. and Canada

Gifford’s radio career includes stints as a news and sports producer, reporter, anchor, program director, and radio consultant.

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I’m willing to bet there aren’t a ton of radio talkers that got their start informing students about Salisbury steak and Tater Tots. 

“I used to deliver the morning public announcements in school,” said Larry Gifford. “I’d say, ‘Good morning Westerville North, this is Larry Gifford with your lunch menu.” He’d also travel around with his high school band and serve as their announcer.

Gifford’s radio career includes stints as a news and sports producer, reporter, anchor, program director, and radio consultant. These jobs took him across the United States and into Canada. He worked in Dayton, Philadelphia, Los Angeles (twice), Columbus, Bristol, CT, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC. 

As a kid, Gifford’s mom or dad would be there for every baseball, basketball, or football game, swim meet, and soccer match. “They got to see me as I rode the bench, threw a wild pitch, or stood alone on the soccer pitch picking daisies,” Gifford jokes. 

“I think I wrestled for three days in school, was on the swim team. I played baseball for seven years. I think I was hurt more times than I played. In soccer, we were like the Bad News Bears. My big move was to always find a corner and stand there. The best part about playing soccer was the orange slices at halftime.”

Currently living with his family in Canada, Gifford says the work climate is vastly different from the United States. If you’re concerned about your longevity in the crazy radio business, move to Canada. Your career will be golden. “You’re pretty much a lifetime presence in Canada. People don’t move around too much,” said Gifford. 

Newstalk in Canada doesn’t live solely on the right and left politics. Not everything is radical or extreme, and some of it would be considered fluff on U.S. Talk Stations. Gifford calls it lifestyle content. “Canadians are nice people, apologizing for everything,” Gifford said. 

“That said, they’re passionate about their radio and want their stations to be good. There’s no room for yelling, just conversation. They know there are three sides to every story, and they don’t mind if the host has a differing opinion than theirs, as long as they listen to or acknowledge the other positions.”

He hasn’t moved at all since moving to Vancouver, B.C., six years ago. “Folks in radio don’t give much thought to moving market-to-market to climb the ladder as many radio veterans have done in the U.S.” Gifford also notes it is easier to be a ‘star’ in Canada, “Canada is 25 times the size of California, but the country has three million fewer citizens than the state. 

Additionally, Canada has fewer than 1,000 radio stations while there are more than 15,000 in the United States.” That makes it easier to become recognized as a Canadian or National personality than in the U.S.

Gifford says there is a limited appeal in Canada when it comes to sports and sports talk radio. “We have some CFL fans and old-timers like their baseball. The NHL is king, and the NFL does well.” Gifford has worked in markets where there were simultaneously four sports talk show stations. 

“That’s the maximum number, and Los Angeles found that. We try to do multiple stations in Toronto and Vancouver, but there’s just not enough listening to go around.”

He said sports listeners are far more fanatical in the United States than north of the border. “They’re listening all the time,” Gifford explained. “We’ve got a lot of fair-weather fans in Canada. Then again, you always have some people that live and die with the Blue Jays and Raptors.

Before Canada, Gifford was raised in Westerville, Ohio, and is the youngest of four siblings. Gifford admits he was the less coordinated one of the bunch. He intended to major in theater at college, but that didn’t last more than a week.

“They wanted me to buy a dance belt,” Gifford said. A dance belt is basically a jock strap for guys who aren’t playing sports. Goodbye theater, hello radio. “I walked around the corner and discovered the radio station. It was a perfect fit; it was for me.” 

He believes that radio is a ‘theater of the mind.’ “I spent a lot of time in the audio rooms, mostly listening to sound effects, chopping audio on multi-track reel to reel machines with grease pencils and razor blades. I just wanted to see what worlds I could create with audio.”

As a kid, he started listening to a ton of talk radio, which was not always something he enjoyed. “I’d be in the backseat asking my father to turn on some music, but he was deaf in one ear and listening to 610 WTVN or 700 WLW with the other.”

Why are some talk shows more successful than others?

Gifford said respect and chemistry between hosts and the off-air support team are vital. Success depends on it. “When I worked with Mike and Mike in the Morning at ESPN, they probably had the most popular sports radio show in the country,” Gifford said. 

“The key was clearly defining their roles. We helped them to identify distinguishing character traits they could leverage through the show. All hosts should be aware of what makes them unique and find ways to authentically insert themselves into the conversation. We are always getting new listeners, so these traits become quick reference points to explain to the audience what their role is in the show.”

“I like it when both of the hosts believe the same thing and end up “crusading” or pushing against the audience,” Gifford said. 

“I also like hosts that debate each other, add some friction or alternative perspectives. It prompts listeners to share their own opinions too. The best way to get an opinion is to give an opinion. It’s your show; let them react to what you believe to be true. As Colin Cowherd would say, ‘I don’t have to be right. I just need to be interesting.’”

Coaching talent is a bit different from being a Programmer. Gifford believes everybody needs coaching. There are a lot of ways you can get that coaching. “One thing I believe in is improv training for hosts and producers. It’s so important, I factor talent development into my budgets. I’ll bring in a professional improv comedian to do a three-hour workshop.”

“They will create situations that require the talent to think differently and provide tools on how to set up your partner to succeed and how to ‘Yes, and…’ as you build your show collectively. As a host, success isn’t ‘winning the segment,’ it’s when you set up your co-host to be successful.” 

Gifford believes radio is show business. Talkers need structure, tools, or “plays’ they can use to approach topics with intention. It’s ‘planned spontaneity.’ You are still unscripted, but you start the discussion with a vision of how it will end. The conversation will always be more interesting when the whole show unit knows the goal of the segment.

Gifford believes forethought and intention are key for great producers and hosts. “Most believe their first thought on something is totally original,” he said. “It’s not. I teach producers and hosts to write down their first two ideas and throw them away. The third thought will be much more interesting and original.” 

As it relates to interviews, most hosts interject too much. Listeners don’t get as much from the guest as they do with the interviewer. “If the host talks too much, they will take the oxygen out of the room. You must leave room for the guest to share stories and insights by asking lean, neutral, and open-ended questions.”

Sometimes you’re fired; other times, you have to seek change for your own growth. “If you are fired, it doesn’t mean you suck,” assures Gifford. The P.D. is building a lineup. You may be great at what you do, but it doesn’t fit the needs of the station. Each stop on your journey is a learning experience. That’s how I approach it,” Gifford said.  

Gifford was sports director in Philadelphia at an F.M. News Talker, where nobody else knew anything about sports. “I approached everything I did from a fan’s perspective. I was never degrading casual fans. I figured I had sixty seconds to get one nugget, one bit of analysis that people will take with them to lunch to tell their friends.”

He’d go to professional sports training camps all the time. Most of his interviews were before the game. “I’d ask questions that were away from the game, like, “What did you do this summer? How do relax after a loss?” It’s about being entertaining, making it feel like I’m hanging out with them.

There are times when you feel the need for change.

“I went on vacation with my wife and told her something didn’t feel right about my current job. She interviewed and got a job in public relations while we were in Los Angeles. It just happened. I called the station and gave them two weeks’ notice.” Six months later, Gifford was Sports Director at Fox Sports Radio in L.A., and the station he left behind imploded, and everyone was fired. 

Coaching talent was and continues to be a huge part of his job. In keeping with that, Gifford found ways to lure them into the office to chat.

“I’d keep a candy jar on my desk to get them to interact,” Gifford said. 

“I’d find out their favorite candies and fill it up. Guys would come in to grab candy before, during, and after shows. That was a good thing. Over time, I moved the candy further and further from the door. They take a piece of candy, say hello. And we begin talking about their show.

Gifford said he always tries to offer coaching and criticism in private, away from the office. If we were on the road, I’d talk with Dan Patrick about some issues we were having. With Colin Cowherd, I’d meet up with him for dinner and go over the show.”

Gifford thinks former athletes are easy to coach as they’re used to following directions, “They’ve been told what to do their whole life. They’ve watched game tapes, practiced plays, and studied film.” 

“Usually, if you explain why you want them to do something, they apply it almost immediately. They just want to know what’s working and how they can get better,” Gifford also says higher-profile talent are typically easier to coach because it’s a conversation about maximizing their talent and strengths and less about development. 

Of course, some talents are resistant and don’t like it, and some programmers over-analyze everything. “My first P.D. gig, I butted heads with my afternoon host,” Gifford said. “I regret it. Looking back, I was kind of a jerk. I thought my job was to “manage” and “direct,” and I should have been a coach building a championship team.”

In smaller markets, some of the talents are new and feel embarrassed or intimidated when faced with feedback, especially when it is critical of their on-air performance. 

“There’s something hosts need to know when they think about radio P.D.s. Our opinions are just that, our opinions. Right or wrong, our job is to make decisions on what’s going to help the station win and what’s impeding its success. While you’re working for a particular P.D., you either have to adhere to their way of doing business or find another situation.”

When Gifford was a consultant, many talents would hire him directly because they weren’t getting any constructive feedback from their manager. “There weren’t a whole lot of programmers that had time or even had the training to coach talent. At one point, I was coaching five top radio morning shows in the U.S.”

Gifford’s superpower is his networking ability. “If I see someone that might thrive in another market, I’ll bring it up to a friend in the business. I like to observe and fit puzzles together.”

Part of that superpower includes being a good judge of talent and potential. “Tony Romo is very good at what he does. When I watch him, I learn things. I love when he predicts things. I like that he’s taking chances on the air; he sees the whole field. He makes me a better fan.”

You may consider Romo a modern-day John Madden. Gifford doesn’t see it that way. “I think Romo has more substance than Madden. Don’t get me wrong, in Madden’s prime, he was the best, but towards the end, there was a lot of blusters and filling time.”

“He became a bit of a caricature of himself. We liked listening to Madden because there are certain announcers from our youth that get us excited about the game and remind us of how thrilling it was when we first discovered the joy of sports. I was lucky to be in L.A. while we still had Chick Hearn doing the Lakers and Vin Scully doing the Dodgers. It was the best. It couldn’t have been any better.”

Those guys could make reading the hot lunch menu sound pretty good too. 

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Cutler

    June 6, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Larry is one of the very best.

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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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