Opinionated, Noisy, and Having a Good Time
At Podcast Magazine®, we believe all podcasters retain the right to share their viewpoints regardless of whether such views align with our personal beliefs or values.
That’s the beauty of the medium.
It gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to reach people with their message of choice… even if that message is considered controversial in nature.
The Daily Wire—an American conservative news website and media company—does not claim to be without bias.
Founded by writer and filmmaker Jeremy Boreing and political conservative commentator Ben Shapiro in 2015, the company’s website clearly states, “We’re opinionated, we’re noisy, and we’re having a good time.”
Boasting fearlessness in their documentaries, entertainment, journalism, commentary, and future, they aim to “change the culture one member at a time.”
Jeremy, aka “the god-king” and co-CEO of The Daily Wire, is also the host of the popular podcast Daily Wire Backstage, featuring Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, Andrew Klavan, and Michael Knowles.
Ben, a media host, columnist, author, and editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, is admittedly the more colorful face of the company, as epitomized by one of his trademark lines:
“Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
His podcast, The Ben Shapiro Show, is consistently ranked as one of the top five most listened-to shows in the world.
From conception, The Daily Wire’s creators intended for the company to offer unique content in the right-of-center media landscape… and it most certainly does. It has also established itself, as of this writing, as the sixth-largest podcast publisher in the country.
Jeremy and Ben are no strangers to controversy, and not surprisingly, have strong feelings about what may be considered the biggest current threat to the podcasting medium: censorship.
“One of the great aspects of podcasting, or more broadly, the internet, is the democratization of broadcasting,” Jeremy said. “It allows us all to find an audience and take part in the ‘new public square.’
“And I think it’s in jeopardy. You see it every which way, much more so in the big social channels that are quick to censor. You see it actively in podcasting relative to advertisers. There are campaigns that target Ben’s advertisers over something he says, or sometimes, over something he didn’t even say.”
“We pride ourselves on saying what we believe,” Ben added. “There are certain principles that we are just not going to cave on, even if it means angering or losing advertisers. And if you go to war with our audience, we have to go to war with you.
“We’re never going to allow an advertiser to feel as though they can rip half the American public apart while pulling their support because they received pressure from a couple of people on Twitter. You can pull your money anytime, but you don’t get to slap the same people you’ve made money off of on your way out.”
The relationship between this formidable duo began when Jeremy met Ben at a Coffee Bean on Ventura Boulevard, which he referred to as Ben’s “unofficial office for a decade.” It took only one conversation for these self-described “lean-forward kind of guys” to “launch some harebrained scheme,” Jeremy said. “We hit it off right out of the gate and started chasing all kinds of ideas.”
They went on to co-found Truth Revolt, their first company.
“When we left it, which is the polite way of saying they fired my *ss and Ben left voluntarily,” Jeremy explained, “we needed a way to pay our mortgages.”
So, they reached out to Caleb Robinson, the now co-CEO of The Daily Wire, who was at that time representing Farris Wilks. Subsequently, Ferris invested $4.7M in their vision for “really influencing culture.”
Ben, who was hosting six hours of talk radio per day, was also developing a keen interest in podcasting, recognizing its potential as a medium with far fewer gatekeepers between them and their audience—which they envisioned as maybe 5,000-10,000 listeners.
“I don’t think either of us could have imagined what’s happened with podcasting in general or with The Ben Shapiro Show,” Jeremy said, which now has an audience of approximately 36 million monthly listeners.
“The democratization favors authenticity. We get to say what we want to say, and people can opt in on the basis of whether they agree with us, disagree with us, like agreeing with us, dislike agreeing with us, or like disagreeing with us. They can make a personal value choice as to whether or not they want to engage with our content. There are no gatekeepers. There’s no one to tell you ‘No.’ And that’s not just to our benefit, but to that of our country.”
The Daily Wire was cashflow positive 14 months after Farris’s investment. Just six years later, they project $200M in topline revenue at year end. This is roughly double from 2021, which has been the yearly trend since the company’s inception. The bulk of their revenue is mainly comprised of subscriptions to The Daily Wire.
“The podcast used to be the number-one source of revenue for the company. That changed after Ben appeared at March for Life in Washington, D.C., which is basically the preeminent pro-life event of the year in the country, in 2018. By the time he made it back to LA, a million-and-a- half dollars’ worth of our advertising partners had walked out the door and publicly repudiated us. That was a moment that, albeit painful at the time, really helped us define the future of The Daily Wire and set in motion the conversations that ultimately led us to prioritizing our subscription business.”
With approximately one million paid subscribers, the strategy has certainly proven fruitful.
One of those subscription levels—All Access—provides live chat opportunities with DailyWire+ creators on weekly livestreams… creators like Ben, who for all intents and purposes, can move mountains with his level of influence.
“It’s almost always the stupid stuff that gets the broadest possible audience,” Ben joked. “I find it both amusing and annoying. I spend an enormous amount of time reading books—three to five a week—and really educating myself. I have a pretty strong educational background, too, but the stuff that goes really viral is when I read the lyrics to a Cardi B song. That’s when everybody loses their mind, because I’m apparently not joking even when I’m completely and obviously joking.
“I will say that there are times when I will push a particular political cause, and it’ll make a bit of a splash. It’ll make a difference. Like when I was urging Republicans to get significantly more active on social issues, and they did.
“That’s not just my influence, though. That’s our entire company. I thank God that I’ve had enormous opportunities to shape a lot of young people on a personal level. People come up to me on the street and tell me that listening to my show changed their life, which is always strange, because it’s a political show. But they’ll say that they’ve reoriented how they approach problems in their own life by listening to the show, because it’s laden with values. And that’s phenomenal.
“But the entire company has influence, and that’s one of the things I’m most proud of. In the last Virginia gubernatorial election, it was one of our reporters—Luke Rosiak—reporting on what was happening in one of the swing counties that really reshaped that race when it came to issues over gender ideology. It’s Matt Walsh’s documentary, What Is A Woman, that has radically shifted the tenor and nature of that debate.
“We’re no longer what we once referred to as a ‘one-car-crash company.’ The company itself has grown to such an extent that we are able to spin off properties that make a difference in the debate.”
To those who would contend that Ben’s content is “dangerous” in nature, he has a heartfelt response:
“If I have an idea that somebody misinterprets and then chooses to act on with violence, should that somehow be attributed to me? I have real trouble with the notion that, short of actively telling people to participate in violence, you are somehow responsible for that violence.
“You can certainly raise the temperature with rhetoric, sure. And that can have some bad side effects. But I think that we’ve connected those two things so closely and so illogically that we’ve made it possible to basically blame people who are not calling for violence for the violence, which then results in very inflammatory rhetoric that gets completely ignored.
“I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t said inflammatory things. There are times when I get passionate, particularly in podcasting, which is all about authenticity. The notion that you’re supposed to be completely emotionally disconnected from what you’re talking about is silly.
“There are times when I even say something I regret. I also believe I’m the only pundit on either side of the aisle who has ever put out a full article containing everything I’ve ever said that’s troubling or stupid. It’s called, ‘Here’s a Giant List of All the Stupid and Dumb Things That I’ve Said,’ and it’s right on our website. It literally goes back to the beginning of my career, and I’ve been doing this since I was 17. I’m now 38, so that’s 21 years of dumb crap. It’s a really long article.”
Despite what non-supporters might think, Ben makes an effort to avoid “ratcheting up the temperature.” He even hosts a show called The Sunday Special, for which he sits down with people “across the aisle.” Purposefully choosing guests who he knows disagree with him—like political figures Matt Glass, Ezra Kline, Larry Whitmore, and Andrew Yang—he prides himself on having these types of conversations without any demonizing.
“My rule of thumb,” he said, “particularly when it comes to debate, and despite all the ‘Ben Shapiro Destroys’ headlines, is that when I’m talking or debating with somebody, the other person gets to pick the weapons with which we fight. So if you decide to come in with a rapier, and we’re just going to have a good intellectual conversation about a topic, great. If you come at me with a two-by-four, I’m not going to sit there and respond without my own two-by-four. What I find is that typically, when you make that clear to people up front, they usually want to have a decent conversation about the topics at hand.”
“Ben is well-liked and well-respected by many, many people in the center-left and even on the far-left,” Jeremy added. “Unfortunately, it’s the nature of our politics right now that in the public sphere, they have to pretend to hate him.”
One might wonder how Ben’s show has reached top-five-in-the-nation status, considering its promise to deliver the “hard-hitting truth in comprehensive, conservative, principled fashion.” Moreover, Ben has been called a racist, misogynist, anti-trans bigot, and “rage monger interested in extremist rhetoric,” the latter being attributed to the nature of the political movement (something Ben says is easily debunked by actually listening to an hour of his show).
According to Ben, the show’s success is partly a result of one mistake he says he will never make on his show: “to assume the stupidity of my audience.”
“We do not assume our audience is comprised of a bunch of rubes and morons who can’t understand a sophisticated argument. We live in such a sort of polarized bipolar time that some people are incapable of holding two thoughts in their head at the same time, but one thing I push a lot on my show is that two things can be true at once.
“As an example, I’ll explain how I think that President Trump taking classified documents to his home is a dumb thing to do. But I also don’t think that the FBI should be raiding his home on that predicate based on the Hillary Clinton standard that was established by James in 2016.
“And people can actually handle that level of complexity and nuance of thought. Most are actually looking for it, because anything else is really dishonest.
“It’s no secret that there are certain issues where I’m very black and white. I’m very Manichean about abortion, obviously, and traditional gender roles—I believe men are men and women are women, and men cannot become women. But on most issues, there’s a great complexity to the topic that requires many, many hours to explore. And that’s what makes podcasting interesting.”
“It takes many, many hours to find out what ‘Manichean’ means,” Jeremy interjected.
Appreciating the joke, Ben explained how he’s more interested in “breaking the box”—meaning, he rallies against the idea that everything has to be immediately boxed in. Like his being deemed alt-right, despite giving speeches ripping the alt-right by name.
“If you’re not on the left, then you must be alt-right,” he said. “I understand everybody has their Overton window, but it seems like it’s narrowing dramatically to the point where perfectly obvious things are said, and before you know it, they start trending on Twitter. Advertisers are called, and once that starts to happen, it’s almost impossible to have a meaningful conversation.
“Podcasting is the place where those conversations happen.”
“A lot of our worst problems are human problems, not political problems. I take pride in The Daily Wire and The Ben Shapiro Show because we take an honest look at those problems and are willing to have conversations others won’t.”
The one thing everyone, whether alt-right, far left, conservative, or progressive, can hopefully agree on is this:
Podcasting must remain available to each and every person who chooses to express their views and share their passions. It’s crucial to have that democratization of commentary and ability to speak to an audience without gatekeepers.
To say, or demand, otherwise sheds darkness on the medium… and there is nothing the world needs more than the light podcasters shine upon unique thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.