Regardless of the pandemic, 2020 was a powerful 12 months for Dave Ramsey and Ramsey Options. As soon as it was clear the virus was not going to be a brief time period situation, Ramsey, alongside along with his staff, managed it like a conflict. Ultimately, the corporate was capable of keep away from layoffs and enhance income, one thing few corporations throughout the nation had been capable of do.
Dave Ramsey began as a co-host on a Nashville radio station that was in chapter, again in 1992. By 1996, he was syndicating his present — self-syndicating his present, one station at a time. “Dying by a thousand cuts,” he calls it. Right now, Ramsey’s present is heard on over 600 radio stations throughout the nation.
Ramsey Options employs 950 folks, and the community has seven hosts. The 223,000 sq. foot Ramsey campus sits on 47 acres in Franklin, Tennessee, and a second constructing is now beneath building. As soon as it’s completed, the 2 linked buildings will likely be greater than 400,000 sq. toes. Section three of Ramsey HQ will likely be a 50,000 sq. foot convention heart.
Right here’s our interview with Radio Ink’s Radio Government of the 12 months, Dave Ramsey.
Radio Ink: How has the pandemic impacted you personally?
Ramsey: It scared the crud out of us regarding the impression it had on our enterprise and the households that work for us. We love them. The financial shutdown scared me extra personally than the virus did. We’ve needed to scramble, combat, and push again from a chaotic mess to maintain issues transferring and hold these households fed.
Radio Ink: What changes did you make to maintain issues rolling?
Ramsey: It was an emotional and monetary adjustment, redesigning methods to serve our listeners and prospects as rapidly as we might. We had whole segments of our enterprise, like dwell occasions, simply disappear in a reasonably brief period of time. We had the Ramsey cruise bought out for a 12 months, and our sail date was March 23 — the worst potential date you can’ve been out on a ship. It didn’t sail. That was a $15 million prime line that evaporated. We had to verify everybody bought their refunds.
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Then they began dropping like flies, and we needed to ship everybody residence for six weeks. We’re all again within the workplace now.
Whole segments had been disappearing on the one hand, and on the opposite we in management are working on daily basis making an attempt to determine a technique to change that income. We discovered methods to serve our buyer base and ended up OK, but it surely was tenuous.
Radio Ink: Whenever you realized this wasn’t going to be a short-term factor, how did you redesign the enterprise? How do you handle by that?
Ramsey: We have now a 14-person working board. These are the precise individuals who work, lead, and run the enterprise. We had them and 5 or 6 extra in a room and began on daily basis with two hours of updates — updates on income from the final 24 hours, key efficiency indicators.
We had been watching all the pieces we might as if we had been in a conflict. In a way, we had been. What can we deploy this afternoon? A brand new product or new approach of doing issues? How can we assist our advertisers modify, assist our endorsed native supplier program, and so on. We needed to be leaders. What can we deploy by Friday, by subsequent Wednesday? We had been daily, hour by hour. We bought very tactical. The strategic long-term planning went out the window.
Radio Ink: Did this impression the brand new campus?
Ramsey: No, we had been in it nearly a 12 months when this occurred. We do have a second constructing being constructed that will likely be prepared by Could. It didn’t impression it in any respect. We had been preserving money, and I pay money for all the pieces. It’s a $50 million challenge that’s been paid for month-to-month as we go alongside. We thought of stopping building to protect that money, but it surely was one of many levers we might throw. The development folks labored straight by.
Radio Ink: What do callers to the present say to you about how they’re feeling?
Ramsey: Nowadays they’re disgusted. Again then, they had been afraid when the inventory market took a dive. We defined to folks to not money out their stuff. Don’t freak out. This can be a short-term factor. The inventory market will get better. Individuals misplaced their jobs and questioned, how can we batten up the hatches on our private lives? We had been strolling them by their per- sonal crises on daily basis on the air. There’s much less of that now.
Right now it’s extra about folks pissed off that authorities is taking their freedom away, or they’re mad at their relative who did or didn’t put on a masks. It’s the divisiveness that this worry has prompted. When folks get afraid, a few of them get imply.
“I’ve gotten the pleasure to get beneath the tent considerably with the Ramsey group over the previous a number of years, and know Dave and plenty of of his staff members personally. Each time I stroll away from a gathering with any one among them, or work together with them or spend time with them, I’ve the very same 4 emotions: awe, inspiration, dedication, ardour. Dave is a businessman with a imaginative and prescient, readability, and function I’ve by no means seen earlier than. He’s wonderful, as is the group he has constructed. I can’t consider anybody extra deserving of this nice honor.”
Bob Proffitt, CEO, Alpha Media
Radio Ink: The instances have been going up once more. Do you see, because the numbers go up, we’d return to heavier restrictions?
Ramsey: I don’t suppose the numbers will trigger us to go backwards until somebody reinstitutes whole shutdowns to the financial system. I don’t understand how far more the financial system can take. The injury carried out by the shutdowns to folks’s lives, and the variety of lives misplaced because of the shutdowns, far exceeds the virus, mathematically.
We cope with illnesses of despair on daily basis and have for 30 years. The primary explanation for male suicide is monetary, and that’s a illness of despair. We’ve had our arms in these worlds lengthy earlier than the pandemic hit. We see these will increase as dangerous. The oldsters that had been combating melancholy or are bipolar, and so on., have been exacerbated. That’s probably not being measured in among the comparisons being carried out.
We really feel we actually know what’s happening with this. We’re seeing, restoration smart, that it’s been an element of how a lot the native authorities allowed that space to open up and begin doing enterprise once more. As quickly as companies come again, so do jobs, after which lives begin to heal financially.
You’ve folks in California and New York Metropolis who’re fleeing. One of many untold tales is the large quantity of people that have left these states completely. You’ll be able to’t get a U-Haul in California proper now. Identical factor in New York. They’re coming to states which might be open. They left for good. We’re going to see a shift within the states the place these politicians select to maintain issues shut down. The financial restoration is splotchy.
Radio Ink: How are you serving to the associates and getting in entrance of the listeners now?
Ramsey: Bodily, we’ve not been capable of get in entrance of them as a result of the political local weather has shut down occasions. We’ve carried out some occasions in our constructing and streamed them. We have now a thousand folks right here, and 20,000 streaming. We had venues booked and they’d cancel. We’ve bought individuals who don’t need to attend occasions, and that’s comprehensible. We’re making an attempt to supply methods they’ll get to us.
We’ve had a really profitable 12 months streaming. We’re planning one now for a e book launch for my daughter Rachel Cruze. That will likely be in entrance of a small dwell viewers in Oklahoma Metropolis and in addition streamed. We’re making an attempt to go locations the place we don’t trigger an excessive amount of angst to the native officers.
“Dave Ramsey might be the sharpest thoughts within the room — and probably on the air. He’s an extremely good businessman who has constructed a massively profitable and diversified group. And he’s
a gifted broadcaster who counsels scores of trustworthy listeners along with his distinctive mix of monetary recommendation, help, and, when essential, a frank and agency actuality examine.”
Deborah Parenti, EVP/Writer, Radio Ink
Radio Ink: Do you miss being in these markets, with the station workers and the massive audiences?
Ramsey: It’s been our inventory in commerce. I like folks. I like our viewers. I’m not a prima donna celebrity. I like sitting on the sting of the stage signing books for an hour and listening to folks’s tales. I don’t get to do this a lot proper now. I like to speak to the warmth and air man in San Antonio who’s been promoting with me there with the native affiliate for 20 years. We’re huge on native promoting and small enterprise.
Over time these of us within the radio station and the advertisers have develop into mates. We see them throughout an advertisers’ lunch occasion. Relying on the radio firm, they is probably not again of their places of work at the moment, so we will’t do this.
Radio Ink: What has the radio business meant to you through the years?
Ramsey: It was the best way I might hook up with folks I needed to assist. Over time attending to know folks within the enterprise I’ve developed friendships with some high-quality executives in these corporations. The enterprise has lots of soul to it. There are some characters within the radio enterprise, however you might have that in any enterprise. I like radio, the folks, and our viewers. I’m glad I did it.
Radio Ink: Up to now 12 months we’ve misplaced lots of jobs on this business. Have been you shocked by that?
Ramsey: No. Everyone has taken a success. We had been capable of pivot our advertisers’ messaging to the place they didn’t lose effectiveness with promoting, and we misplaced just one advertiser. General, our income is up year-over-year.
We had been capable of maintain that line. Most locations, their company places of work despatched folks residence and so they misplaced their capability to do these sorts of issues and save them.
In some instances the folks that had been making an attempt to avoid wasting the promoting couldn’t, and so, with revenues happening, so go jobs.
We advised our staff we needed to hold the income above the bills and payroll; if not, anyone must go residence. We didn’t need to do this, however we had been open with our staff. Individuals needed to make very laborious decisions.
“Our relationship with Dave Ramsey runs a lot deeper than being simply an affiliate. We really feel like we’re actually enterprise companions, confidants, and even mates with Dave and his unbelievable staff.”
Gordy Rush, Vice President, Warranty Media
Radio Ink: You speak concerning the significance of not getting distracted and staying on prime of enterprise. Any tips about how one can hold employees in that working mode?
Ramsey: Overcommunicate. Inform them what’s actually happening. They aren’t kids, they’re adults. Some will react poorly it doesn’t matter what. We select to inform our folks the unvarnished fact — good, dangerous, ugly: “Right here’s what we will work on to drag the wagon over the hill.” The variety of folks I’ve talked to who’ve not heard a phrase — and that’s any enterprise, but it surely smacks of lack of management and braveness.
It’s a brave act and an act of psychological well being to face on a stage, or to name everybody saying, “I heard you examined optimistic, how are you? How’s your loved ones?” Simply observe by and speak to folks. Simply care about them, and so they’ll sense that. Even when you aren’t capable of maintain on to them as a result of income goes away, no less than you’ve carried out the fitting factor by way of dignity for them and also you.
Radio Ink: In June of 1992 you hosted The Cash Recreation with two co-hosts without spending a dime as a result of the nationwide station wanted to fill time and make payroll. Had the station not had monetary points, do suppose you’d be internet hosting a chat program?
Ramsey: Is that not the best irony? The Dave Ramsey Present began on a station that was in Chapter 11. Gaylord purchased it out of chapter, they bought it to Citadel, and so they had been purchased by Cumulus. Cumulus owns it as we speak. It was WTN right here in Nashville. That was our flag- ship station for 20 years. It’s a 100,000 watt stick.
A few hillbillys go on the air with a twang. We wouldn’t have gotten on the air with a reliable radio station. Roy Matlock was the co-host; he was an insurance coverage man. After we syndicated, the regulators began elevating Cain as a result of he was nonetheless licensed, so he needed to give up. The opposite man was doing an actual property hour on Friday; his title is Hal Wilson. I used to purchase and promote homes with Hal. He’s handed away since. Roy is again on the market doing mutual funds.
Radio Ink: Was this your long-term objective? Do you know what you needed to do then?
Ramsey: No. We went on the present to attempt to assist folks. I had a self-published e book I assumed I might promote. Roy thought he would get some leads. We had been each proper, however I wasn’t making a dwelling. It was a enjoyable factor to do. When you get in entrance of the mic, you get pleasure from it. I’m a ham. I like folks. It’s an intimate medium. You’ll be able to inform what persons are pondering by the pauses of their voice sample, modifications of their tone, and phrases they select. It’s been a extremely enjoyable experience.
“Over our 20-plus- 12 months relationship I’ve seen Dave construct a world-class group based mostly upon his ardour, dedication, loyalty, and dedication to serve others that’s unparalleled within the business. Throughout this time he has develop into a mentor and a information for me and I’ve tried to emulate his rules in all that we do. There are not any phrases to specific the depth of our admiration and appreciation to have the chance to work with him and his staff, and I can consider no yet another deserving of this award.”
Jeff Zander, Jeff Zander Insurance coverage, 21-year Dave Ramsey advertiser
Radio Ink: Sooner or later you determined you’d self-syndicate, and it labored like nobody else has been capable of do it. How lengthy earlier than you knew it could be huge?
Ramsey: I’m nonetheless sort of questioning. The issue is we’ve carried out this, usually, one station at a time. In some instances we might get three stations. However we by no means had that 40-station contract. We didn’t get the massive guys as a result of they didn’t personal us and so they weren’t going to do it, which is comprehensible. We bought slightly station in Oakridge, Tennessee, and one in Russellville, Kentucky — each are podunk, nothing sticks. They had been candy stations however didn’t have many listeners.
Then we added Jackson, Mississippi, which was reliable, and Spokane, Washington, which was an amazing clear. We began calling radio stations and speaking them into it. Plenty of folks mentioned this wouldn’t work with out a Westwood or Premiere to get these clears. I mentioned, “I don’t suppose we’re going to do this.”
Separately, we talked them into it over 30 years. Now we’ve got 620 stations. On mainstream radio, we’ve got about 10 million listeners, and one other 8 million with the podcast.
Radio Ink: Do the massive guys name you now and say, “We made a mistake”?
Ramsey: No. We’ve had discussions with the teams, however by and huge they decentralized the decisionmaking to the native station. The native station must do what they should do. Often the group will cram down one among their merchandise to the stations, however we haven’t run into that in a very long time. More often than not the oldsters on the residence workplace are mates of ours now, and so they belief our capability to serve their native associates, so that they’re OK with us being on the station.
If we decide with the native folks they’ve a slot we will do higher in than what they’ve bought on, we speak them into it. That’s primary syndication. We have to serve them higher than what they’ve bought on the air, and persuade them it’ll. We’ve been capable of show that, with scores and doing native endorsements, we can assist them get some income within the door that others can’t or gained’t do.
“Dave has been one of many strongest influences in my life for not solely how one can lead with excellence, however how one can do enterprise the fitting approach. He taught me to at all times do not forget that it doesn’t matter what, folks matter. He has instilled in me the truth that when you do sufficient of the fitting issues, the cash will deal with itself. I worth my relationship with Dave as a pacesetter, a mentor, a brother-in- arms, and a pal. I’m so happy with this acknowledgement as Radio Government of the 12 months as a result of it additional validates what we at Ramsey Options have recognized for years.”
Brian Mayfield, EVP/Working Board Member, Ramsey Media
Radio Ink: How has your present developed through the years?
Ramsey: I’m loving it. We have now six different individuals who communicate and write books, and so on., and I might have them on as visitors, sometimes have one among them pop on. Throughout the pandemic, I put them on as co-hosts, separately. When the worst of the pandemic was over, we simply stored doing it, so this 12 months the present has modified. I’m utilizing a co-host now for the primary time in 20-plus years.
I’m having fun with it quite a bit. The standard of the present has gone up. You’ll be able to take heed to me, and I’m fairly fast on the draw. I can hold the stuff compelling, however when there’s two of us in right here mixing it up, coming at it from completely different angles, they add taste to the gumbo. I believe the present is healthier now than it’s been in a very long time.
Radio Ink: What would you say to somebody who desires to do what you probably did?
Ramsey: It will be a set of challenges with completely different gamers. By the point I bought began good, it was group-controlled. Clear Channel, now iHeart, they’re making a choice whether or not we get on their stations. Citadel, later purchased by Cumulus, and all of the others, they’re nonetheless there. They personal their very own expertise base with the Rushes, the Seans, the Shapiros. They’ll put their folks on their stock.
You need to have a look at the time slot you’d choose to enter and resolve what’s it going to take. In case you do glorious radio, even when you do this on a podcast, anyone will have a look at you. Ben Shapiro has confirmed that. He had a extremely profitable podcast that made the soar into radio.
Expertise won’t be denied. You need to carry a product to the airwaves that’s compelling. I wouldn’t want it on anyone to do it the best way I did, separately. It’s lots of work. The online result’s a giant deal. We gained loss of life by a thousand cuts.
“Dave is just not solely an unbelievable radio character, best-selling writer, and profitable enterprise chief, however his present as a trainer has helped so many radio executives like myself to be higher leaders and managers. I really feel lucky to know Dave for therefore a few years and to have had the privilege of being uncovered to his knowledge. His impression on the radio business and, particularly, my enterprise goes to this point past simply the programming he supplies. The giving of himself is on the core of who Dave Ramsey actually is.”
Tim Feagan, President, West Michigan Markets iHeartMedia Markets Group
Radio Ink: You’ve talked about podcasts, books, and so on. What different issues do you might have within the hopper?
Ramsey: The opposite hosts all have podcasts now. The Ken Coleman Present is on 58 stations. He solutions questions on how one can get folks within the candy spot of their profession. He’s doing rather well; he’s a compelling host. We’ve constructed the Ramsey Community that every one six or seven of us are placing out in numerous varieties or codecs, whether or not that’s SiriusXM or podcasts or mainstream radio or YouTube — which is an effective way to get your foot within the door.
We’ve discovered all these completely different strategies of supply, and there’s little or no cannibalization. The common YouTube viewer on The Dave Ramsey Present is 23 years previous. I’m not getting them on a Speak radio present, I’m getting a 50-year-old there. I’m not cannibalizing the AM Talker getting a 23-year-old on YouTube. A rising tide is elevating all ships.
Actually, the 23-year-old’s grandfather is perhaps listening to me on daily basis on nice AM Talkers throughout America, however they’ll speak with their grandchild who’s been watching Debt Free Screams on YouTube. I get 16 million views on our YouTube channel each month. It’s a complete completely different market.
I’m not married to one among these items. We do all the pieces. It raises the model and helps everybody concerned, together with our associates. The second factor it does is assist folks on the opposite finish of that voice, and that’s what we’re right here for.
Radio Ink: What do you suppose will occur in 2021?
Ramsey: I don’t have any thought. I didn’t suppose this may take this lengthy to blow over. I’m an everlasting optimist. I didn’t suppose People could be bossed round so long as they’ve. I believe there’s a complete group that’s carried out with this. I hope it resolves rapidly, possibly a vaccine units folks free so the financial system can get going.
I’ll say general, whether or not it’s 2021 or ’22, it’ll cross. People are resilient. Individuals are not going to put down and die. They’re going to discover a completely different technique to do issues. I don’t know precisely what it’ll appear like. I by no means dreamed I’d should undergo a complete physique scan to get on an airplane, however we settle for it as a part of our tradition after 9/11. Nobody would’ve thought that ordinary previous to 9/11. We’re going to see some issues change, however I believe it is going to be nice. There will likely be some winners and losers, similar to at all times.
“It will be simple to talk to Dave’s management qualities, his organizational improvement abilities, and the extremely gifted staff he’s put collectively, to not point out being a world-class radio expertise, however there are two issues that almost all impress. Dave has off-the-charts grit. His journey, beginning on one radio station and promoting books out of the trunk of his automotive, to now, is unbelievable and actually inspiring. Overcoming life’s obstacles is on the coronary heart of Dave’s content material, and he can communicate to that; it’s sincere and genuine. He additionally takes nice pleasure in serving others. Dave is just a very good human being. He’s real. There’s no query he’s confirmed that success follows those that assist others.”
Kevin Godwin, SVP, Townsquare Media
Radio Ink: Does it ever freak you out that so many individuals depend upon what you’ve constructed?
Ramsey: Sure, it did this 12 months. I knew I might be OK, however it could be a disgrace to have to start out over rehiring folks as a result of I couldn’t hold revenues up. I like all of the folks within the constructing. It was scary. I felt the load of the duty. Our job as leaders is to serve. In the event that they don’t, they’re by definition not a pacesetter. Main is just not an entitlement, it’s an act of service. In case you don’t really feel the load of it, you in all probability have the fallacious perspective on what management is.
Radio Ink: What’s your final objective with the corporate?
Ramsey: We’re persevering with to enter completely different segments. Clearly, we began with the cash phase. We’d like so as to add some personalities within the parenting space, marriage space. We assist folks with their lives and present them a transparent path to therapeutic, transformation, to be higher of their lives.
I need to do it in some areas we’ve not carried out earlier than. It’ll at all times be with widespread sense, with God’s and grandma’s methods of doing issues. There’s a scarcity of widespread sense in each space, so there’s at all times a marketplace for it.
“We couldn’t be extra excited for Dave to obtain this well-deserved recognition. He has constructed an extremely profitable enterprise by offering folks hope and the instruments to dwell a extra rewarding life, whereas additionally growing a tradition of hungry, humble, and good professionals. It’s completely inspiring, and we’re happy with our large partnership with him and his staff.”
Scott Sutherland, Market Supervisor, Bonneville Phoenix
Radio Ink: Pandemic apart, what does Dave Ramsey do to remain optimistic? What motivates the motivator?
Ramsey: I haven’t carried out pretty much as good a job this 12 months as in current reminiscence of constructing certain I had some margin to refill my emotional and non secular tank. In case you run up in opposition to the wall on a regular basis, you finally expend. I reached the tip of my tank this summer time. I needed to go to my lake home to sit down on the dock for the day and cry a bit. Then I sucked it up and bought again to work.
Leaders have to do self-care so that they don’t lose their capability to guide. Whenever you get fatigued, that’s when folks do silly stuff that ends their profession, marriage, or their lives. You need to give your self some respiratory room and refill your tank.
I seemed up and I had gotten the fattest I’d ever been. I went on a complete regime and misplaced 38 kilos within the final 27 weeks. I haven’t missed a day working or strolling. I needed to get again on an train plan. Once I get pressured, it provides me permission to eat a complete field of doughnuts, and I did. It was ridiculous. I’m the bottom I’ve been shortly, which has helped me quite a bit.
Prayer time and time with household must be one thing you do to get the margin or gasoline in your tank so you might have the capability to guide and love. Individuals get imply and nasty after they’re working low, and that’s what’s occurred this 12 months. They’re afraid and so they bought fried.