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Buck Sexton Sees an Opening in Changing Media Landscape

Buck Sexton joined OutKick for a conversation on his career, the future of media, his daily routine, a possible Donald Trump news network, the outlets he trusts, and more. 

Sexton hosts the Buck Sexton Show on radio and recently started the Hold The Line TV show on The First, weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.

Bobby Burack: You have a new nightly show on The First TV, Hold The Line. How did that come about? What are the plans for the show?

Buck Sexton: It’s great for me because I get the opportunity now to bring some of my radio audience that I’ve built over the years into a TV medium. 

I get to do so with people who I have worked with in the past, the founders of The First. The people who are running it go back to the beginning of my career in media. So, now that I’ve built up a radio show with over 180 affiliates across the country, and I’ve really been able to establish my own voice on the conservative side of political commentary, I get to go back to the guys who started it all with me. The people who first saw my ability almost, gosh, 9-10 years ago, now help me create a TV show where we’re gonna have the kind of fearlessness and insight that I bring on radio.

Bobby Burack: What do you see in The First? There are several conservative outlets now. In addition to Fox News, there’s The Blaze — where you started — Newsmax, OANN, and The Daily Wire, to name some. 

Buck Sexton: The First has done an incredible job of pulling together really great talent, all of whom have very unique voices. And I mean, my colleagues Bill O’Reilly, Dana Loesch and Jesse Kelly, they all bring very specific and proven personalities to the table. 

What’s fantastic for us is that this is a period where there’s a lot of change. There’s a lot of willingness to adopt new platforms. People’s habits during COVID, in particular, and how they consume media are certainly in flux. And there’s so much now that’s going on in the digital space. Given the kinds of cancel culture situations we’ve seen, the fears among established media players not only to have conservative ideas but even just to present any sense of fairness or impartiality — there’s an opening.  I’m talking about journalistic outlets, afraid to embrace free speech, which is the mission of The First. 

No one there has ever told me, nor will they ever want to say, “You can’t say or do that.” It’s a sacred bond between the audience and me that I’m going to tell them what I think and what really matters. 

The First provides that platform. They trust me to be the editor-in-chief of my own content, always, at all times. You don’t really have that freedom elsewhere. You certainly don’t have it in the corporate media. 

Bobby Burack: Buck, when you got to the Blaze, you told the head of the radio division you wanted on radio, with no experience. You’ve since made a career in the radio medium, which has produced the industry’s biggest stars: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin. You are quite a bit younger than all four. Do you still see radio as a key player in the future of news media? Or is it podcasting, anchored by Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino?

Buck Sexton: I think of it all as the spoken word. It’s the one-to-one conversation that you have, without necessarily including the visuals of TV, that creates a very specific bond with an audience. It’s also the long style or longer style format of either radio or podcasting. 

Technology has advanced to a point now where radio and podcasting are much of the same. 

There are differences, the same way as watching a TV show on-demand on your tablet versus watching on a flat screen on your cable box is different. But ultimately, it’s all about the content and that connection that you create with the audience. 

The reason that I was always drawn to radio is having listened to Rush Limbaugh in my more formative years, you know, growing up and being an avid reader of certain sites and reading some of the earlier conservatives from even back into the 90s. And building the conservative media that we have today. And this is even in the earliest days of, say, Fox News. 

We’re hungry for more voices. We need to build on platforms. I had a Twitter thread that went viral in June that Rush actually read word-for-word on his radio show, completely agreeing with everything that I was saying. It’s not all a competition. We need more platforms, we need more voices. We need what I call “unsinkable aircraft characters of free speech.” 

Because if we keep fighting over the very limited conservative space, and that does create infighting, that creates pressures and rivalries that are not helpful for the movement.

There’s plenty of room for a lot of voices to have a big enough audience and enough reach that this is a business and not a hobby for them. So when you say radio versus podcast, and I do a radio show that’s on about 180 or so stations, I also have a podcast that is in the top 200 on iTunes right now. Last week, it was probably in the 50 or 60 range. It’s the same show, just different consumer habits. I don’t think it’s really a difference in the content or the approach. 

I do TV, I do writing, I do radio, and podcasting. The goal is all the same: to create as much valuable content and as much of my particular approach and insights as I can. 

Bobby Burack: What’s your daily routine and preparation now that you have a daily TV show in addition to radio?

Buck Sexton: I wake up, I drink my Black Rifle Coffee, and I start just reading as soon as possible. Then, it’s non-stop. I have hours and hours of prep in the morning. 

First, I tape portions of my radio show. Then, I have the TV show. After TV, I go to live radio. Right now, I’m doing six hours a day. In terms of the clock, it’s not actually timed out that way. But there are six hours of content time that I fill every day right now, and 90% is solo content. 

The good part is that radio is like the final exam when you are in school. The morning news is just the headline. Radio is about all the cumulative knowledge that the narratives, the history, the understanding, and the analysis you’ve been bringing and have been building over a long period of time. You can’t read and build that in the morning. Radio is essentially your life’s work every day being poured into a platform. 

I’m up late at night sending myself notes and emails, constantly firing notes out to my team. But it’s all constant. The more I can get done the day before in terms of research and diving in, the easier the next day is for me. 

The tough part is finding vacation time. It feels like you’re just taking a vacation from yourself. Right?

Bobby Burack: When you got to the Blaze and hosted Real News, you joined an already competitive space. How did you plan to separate in the media and not just be another voice?

Buck Sexton: Great question. I thought about that when I got into the business. The reason Glenn Beck initially hired me to do media, something I’d never spent a single moment in a classroom or in a real professional setting doing, outside of an AI intern fetching coffee, was my national security expertise. I’d come out of almost six years in the intelligence community, five years in the Central Intelligence Agency, and working at the CIA on Iraq and Afghanistan. 

This included counterterrorism issues, which were the very top of the national security portfolio that anybody could have at that time. And those were still very relevant to the new cycle. So I was coming into work at the Blaze, for Glenn, as somebody who had already briefed the President and the various principles of the Bush administration in the Oval Office. I had already been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I was a guy who was steeped in conservative media, who had been a Rush listener, a Drudge reader, an Ann Coulter book reader. Then added on top of that, I had the CIA experience.

That was really the breakthrough because that allowed me to bring immediate value and immediate differentiation from other people that wanted to do more general commentary.

Bobby Burack: You’ve done digital writing, radio, TV. What’s next for you? What do you want to accomplish next?

Buck Sexton: I honestly just want to keep building in every capacity. I want to do a little more experimentation with content. I view myself as working first and foremost for my audience. Whatever I can do that either engages or informs, I like to go in that direction.

I recently did a straight-up history podcast. I just released that. I’m also thinking about ways to do more of those in the future. I like those kinds of deep dives. I try to present a particularly information-rich show. I want people to listen. I do have people that don’t even agree with me politically, but they like my use of vocabulary, which is a natural effect of Jesuit High School. 

I’m looking to do a video series on American history, too.

I might start TikTok soon. I feel social media, as long as you understand it as a tool and it doesn’t take over your life, can be very useful. It creates an additional bond with the audience. But I view it as supplementary. I don’t think that’s really the basis of what I do. No, the meat and potatoes of it is the radio conversation, which is also a podcast conversation that I’m having every day. 

But I’m happy, man. I mean, I love what I’m doing. I love the platforms that I currently have. And I think the more people get to know what I do and the level at which I do it, the more people will listen and watch. 

Bobby Burack: There’s been rumors in reports now of late that President Donald Trump is considering launching his own media company to compete with Fox News. Do you see Trump doing that, and would it work? 

Buck Sexton: It’s very tough to tell what this president is going to do until he makes up his mind. I really don’t have a good answer for you. But as to whether I think he could do it and would it work — the answer is most decidedly yes. It would absolutely work. 

I think the President has perhaps even more of a gift for media than he does for traditional politics. And he would be quite a force if he’s no longer in the Oval Office but out there as part of the national conversation and building a media empire. That would be something that would really shake things up. In fact, I would welcome it.

Bobby Burack: Which sites do you rely on for your morning reading, and which don’t you trust?

Buck Sexton: I have a browser of my favorite sites. But I also have a web browser with all the left-wing and Democrat sites that I think I need to be aware of. So, I’ll actually do a deep dive into the mind of the other side to get a real sense of what they’re seeing and what their arguments are. I think that’s critical if you’re going to be making the counter-argument. I open up my Safari browser instead of my Chrome browser. And it’s Huffington Post, MSNBC, Slate, you know, it’s all these left-wing things. 

As for my normal standard browser, Chrome, it is all the conservative sites that people would think of. 

I’m always looking for ways to bring together coverage of an event from different places and find those things that either aren’t getting enough attention or where I can just bring more value from an analysis perspective because I’m not breaking news ticker. I’m into the deep dives, the understanding. How to read between the lines of these reports. It takes looking at both conservative and liberal sides. But it’s more art than science, I don’t have some mechanized approach.

I find Twitter a very useful snapshot tool to see where commentary is at any point in time. And I’m excited that Parler is growing to the point where I think that’s going to be the same way. Just as I have a left-wing and a right-wing browser of news on my computer, I think there’s going to be left-wing microblogging — although, I think no one really uses that term anymore — and right-wing microblogging or at least free speech microblogging on Parler.

Bobby Burack: What are you into outside of politics? Are you a sports fan?

Buck Sexton: I like reading history books. I like cooking. I really enjoy cooking red meat and perfecting my technique there. I make amazing steak and eggs both together and separately. So, even during COVID, I think my skills have increased there. l generally am somebody who enjoys trying to go to the gym — although I wish I had a lot more time and energy for it these days. 

I’m a big watcher of shows on-demand, not that into cable. No, I don’t really care that much for professional sports, but I used to play a lot of sports. 

But my work is my focus. I will say that I’m not somebody who has a fascinating life outside of what I do because I pour so much of myself, my time, and my energy into what I do. It is not just Monday through Friday, but on the weekends too. You asked about prep, the weekends are probably my best prep time, which means there’s not a lot of time for learning how to play bridge.

Follow Bobby Burack on Twitter here.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers any news story that deserves attention but focuses on media. His interests include reading Stephen King novels, avoiding traffic on the road, and pretending to solve true-crime mysteries. He still believes Cersei should've won and encourages everyone to always question the news.

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