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Joe Rogan is one of the most successful and popular comedians and podcasters in the U.S. He started as a sitcom actor, then hosted the NBC show Fear Factor, became a color commentator for the UFC, and was a relatively-known stand-up comedian.
To be sure, Rogan was a successful man, but no one would’ve believed he’d become the most successful podcaster in the world and one of the most influential voices in the western media, with a larger audience than CNN and the most-watched cable news show, Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Now, what is the secret sauce of Joe Rogan’s success?
Well, the same fact that has led to a large media outcry and attempts to cancel him: he’s open to talking with people he doesn’t share much with, people that are popular but pretty much banned from mainstream media, and he listens to them. He might not be impartial, but he’s fair.
The results? The numbers on his podcast are simply other-wordly, the envy of any traditional media outlet. The Joe Rogan Experience earns over $100 million in podcast adverts and when his podcast was on YouTube, the episodes easily reached a million views in under 24 hours.
Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. He started the podcast way back in 2009 and it was pretty much white dudes talking about nothing. His podcast was mostly limited to comedian friends and maybe UFC fighters–back when the UFC wasn’t a worldwide organization, but a fringe sport save from a few figures.
Since then, his horizons have expanded and he’s had a number of people on his podcast too diverse to count. Elon Musk smoked weed in his show (and his investors went batsh*t crazy afterward, Alex Jones ranted on a number of conspiracy theories… twice; Bernie Sanders was on the show, Jordan Peterson had a four-hour conversation with Rogan a couple of weeks ago. Ben Shapiro, Jack Dorsey, Robert Downey, Jr., Milo Yiannpoulos, Dr. Robert Malone, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and many more including pretty much every important name in the UFC and comedy world make the eclectic list of guests of his show.
The Joe Rogan Experience is the closest to the classical liberal dream of a neutral marketplace of ideas you might find today.
And how did Rogan achieve this level of success in such a politically-correct, woke environment? Well, the simple answer is that he’s simply too big to be canceled. The long one is that he didn’t do what media gurus say you must do:
- He joined a big company only after he was already the biggest podcaster in the world.
- His episodes don’t last 30 minutes or an hour. They last as much as he needs them to last to delve deep into his guests’ ideas–even if it takes four hours.
- He didn’t try to monetize from scratch.
- He doesn’t release the same number of episodes weekly, one the same day and time. He just releases them when he wants to.
- He did not hire a team of writers and gurus.
In essence, he continued being authentic. And that’s what people love about Joe Rogan. You might not agree with him on many things (I surely don’t), but you feel he doesn’t have a hidden agenda. He’s a self-made, successful man, having sincere conversations with anyone who’s open to talk. Yes, that sometimes might mean despicable characters such as Milo Yoannopolous, but what do you prefer: the traditional media and its Index Prohibitorum or an occasional asshole on Joe Rogan’s show?
Again, you might not agree with him, but you know he’ll be open to listen and will not try to impose his views on the guest or the listeners. He is patient enough to allow his interviews to be an experience instead of an interrogation, and that helps his guests relax and allow the conversation to flow naturally in a way that normal TV shows or podcasts that follow the “formula” seldom achieve.
Plus, he’s catered to the boogeymen according to the mainstream media: straight dudes. As Devin Gordon of The Atlantic said: “Few men in America are as popular among American men as Joe Rogan. It’s a massive group congregating in plain sight, and it’s made up of people you know from high school, guys who work three cubicles down, who are still paying off student loans, who forward jealous-girlfriend memes, who spot you at the gym. Single guys. Married guys. White guys, black guys, Dominican guys. Two South Asian friends of mine swear by him. My college roommate. My little brother. Normal guys. American guys.”
“The bedrock issue, though, is Rogan’s courting of a middle-bro audience that the cultural elite hold in particular contempt—guys who get barbed-wire tattoos and fill their fridge with Monster energy drinks and preordered their tickets to see Hobbs & Shaw. Joe loves these guys, and his affection has none of the condescension and ironic distance many people fall back on in order to get comfortable with them. He shares their passions and enthusiasms at a moment when the public dialogue has branded them childish or problematic or a slippery slope to Trumpism. (…) he’s reckoning out loud with a fear that the word masculinity has become, by definition, toxic.”
What will the future of The Joe Rogan Experience be? This is a tough question. He seems to have defeated cancel culture for now, but not after some of the episodes of his show have been eliminated and some branded as misinformation.
How much will Spotify wait until the left’s pressure is too large and they start trying to editorialize Rogan’s content? Will Rogan cave to the pressure for the sake of his $100 million contract or will he run to the echo chamber in Rumble? It’s hard to tell, but I must admit I’m not optimistic. Rogan seems to be an n-word or Alex Jones away from serious censorship.
Edgar is political scientist and philosopher. He defends the Catholic intellectual tradition. Edgar writes about religion, ideology, culture, US politics, abortion, and the Supreme Court. Twitter: @edgarjbb_ // Edgar es politólogo y filósofo. Defiende la tradición intelectual católica. Edgar escribe sobre religión, ideología, cultura, política doméstica, aborto y la Corte Suprema. Twitter: @edgarjbb_