The first recorded use of the expression, “A penny for your thoughts,” was made by Sir Thomas Moore precisely 500 years ago (1522). But, no doubt, a penny went much further in the 16th century.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows that inflation continues to increase above expectations. The current annual rate of 8.6% is the highest since 1981. The cost of thoughts, or at least saying them aloud, well, saying certain things in a public forum, has gone up far more than the CPI.
Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders (formerly known as the “Washington Football Team,” and before that, the Washington Redskins), made a classic mistake of wondering aloud about topics that people in public positions aren’t allowed to think about on Twitter. Specifically, his Tweets compared (what he called) “the summer of riots” to January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. As the late, great Alex Trebek would say, Del Rio’s comments were “in the form of a question.”
Faced with media scrutiny about his Tweets, rather than back down, Del Rio referred to January 6th as a “dust-up at the Capitol.”
Can I tell you a trade secret of press flacks? They all have a small can of lighter fluid and a pack of matches within reach behind a piece of glass with the words “break only in the case of emergency” scrawled on it. Certain phrases or words will cause a press person, at great personal danger and sacrifice, to break the glass, douse themselves with the accelerant, and strike a match before flinging their immolating body in front of the podium. Okay, not literally, but I guarantee the Commanders’ public relations director would think this alternative less painful than hearing those words come out of Del Rio’s mouth in front of the press gaggle.
The controversy that followed was swift and certain: as was the reaction from Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera. He promptly assessed a $100,000 fine on Del Rio for his comments.
Two points here: First, this is not a sports story. Talk Radio observers should be far more concerned with the consequences of this story than NFL or sports fans. Second, it doesn’t matter what you think happened on January 6th. You should still find the fine issued by Rivera chilling, whether you call it an insurrection or a dust-up.
I used to believe that comedian Bill Maher and I were about as far apart on the political spectrum as any two Americans could be. Maher and I, however, hold similar views on freedom of expression.
On his HBO show, “Real Time,” Maher defended Del Rio by saying: “In America, you have the right to be wrong. They fined him; the team fined him $100,000 for this opinion. Fining people for an opinion. I am not down with that.”
Because this is where we meet, I’d like to buy Bill Maher a drink and have a laugh over all the times he’s been wrong, or we can share that drink and a smile for understanding that freedom of expression IS the foundation of democracy – no matter who’s right or wrong. Freedom of expression is an issue where liberals and conservatives must find common ground.
The football team currently known as the Washington Commanders may need another name change. Perhaps the “Comrades” would reflect the team’s philosophy better? Levying such a hefty punishment for stating a political (and non-football) point of view because it is out of step with what is apparently official policy seems more reminiscent of the Politburo’s posture than a free society.
Del Rio’s words are understandably offensive to many. At the very least, they were ham-handed for someone who has been in the public spotlight for so long. But a $100,000 fine? Stifling political opinion is far more dangerous than anything Del Rio said.
Taking the Del Rio incident into context with the “Cancel Culture” of the past few years, Talk Radio hosts should look over their shoulders. Del Rio is also an excellent reminder to think twice before posting a politically unpopular opinion on social media.
Inflation has eaten away at the value of a penny and increased the cost of making politically incorrect statements, including on the air in recent years. What inhibits individuals from expressing their thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and emotions is a threat to Talk Radio and democracy.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.