This is where Ben Shapiro got out ahead. Putting aside the appeal of his age and style of delivery for younger audiences, Shapiro operates a podcast and a Facebook Live stream with some perks for paying subscribers. It’s a lean operation and reliant on trust and transparency with the host. Advertisers have taken note of the podcast boom in recent years, doubling spending on ads annually since 2015. Today the podcasting industry is a $220 million dollar business and recent analysis’ shows that listeners are “hyper-engaged” and actually finishing the shows they subscribe to. This isn’t the case for your average commuter who tunes into talk radio in the morning and then exits the audience once they arrive at work. A podcast listener hits pause and resumes play when they get to their desk — this is the more appealing future for an advertiser paying good money for time on a show.
For the time being, all we have about this media buy is a rumor, but one that makes a certain amount of sense for all the players involved. As for TheBlaze changing hands and Glenn Beck’s future, I wouldn’t worry about him. Beck went solo to launch TheBlaze and Mercury Radio Arts with the spirit of an innovator, and that attitude has been a marker of his career. I wrote in The American Conservative about this shift in the media landscape and said that “the future of media belongs to those who are prepared for change.”