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Seventeen years ago, I sat down in front of the microphone for my first ever radio show. The show was humbly titled ClayNation and aired on Nashville’s 104.5 the Zone sports station. Chad Withrow, now one of the hosts of OutKick 360, was my co-host on that show. We’d met in a bar in Atlanta when we were both in town to watch the SEC title game. Tennessee was taking on LSU, and Withrow said he recognized me from my CBS Sportsline columns and wanted to get me on the radio show he was producing in the city. The Vols, in a trend line that would become all too familiar in the years ahead, lost to LSU in a brutal fashion — a fourth quarter pick six provided LSU’s winning margin — but that meeting in an Atlanta bar led to my first radio show.
Withrow and I were paid $50/day each for the new show, and we eventually sold a presenting sponsorship to Otter’s Chicken Tenders, which any Nashville resident or visitor around my age will remember as the late night chicken tender place next door to the Tin Roof on Demonbreun.
My goal on that first live radio show was simple: say exactly what you think and don’t apologize for it.
And all these years later, I’m still doing the exact same thing.
That ClayNation show was the start of a radio career that took me to middays and then afternoons with Brent Dougherty and Blaine Bishop on Nashville’s 104.5 the Zone. We had a phenomenal time on this show, and after several years of 3HL, which became the highest rated local sports show in the country, I made the decision to leave local Nashville radio. To be fair, Cumulus made this decision easier by offering me a $20 daily raise. But as much as I loved local sports radio, I was ready for a bigger challenge.
So for the past six years, I have been hosting OutKick the Coverage on Fox Sports Radio nationwide in the morning from 6-9 am ET, that’s 5-8 am CT. Given how late many games end, that means I really haven’t slept much for the past six years. But I’m proud of the work we’ve done with the OutKick the Coverage show, which is now the most listened to morning sports radio show in the country and one of the three most listened to sports shows in the country. The past several years working alongside Danny G., Eddie Garcia, Roberto Flores, and Dub Yarborough have been incredibly fun. (Thanks to our original OutKick producer Jason Martin for his work on the show as well.)
During these six years, I’ve loved interacting with all of our listeners across the country. Our connection as a show became even more pronounced over the past year when, even without sports being played, we set all time records for listenership.
As I looked at the data during 2020, the story it told me was clear. As much as people might enjoy my sports opinions, they loved even more when I talked about issues that were, frankly, far more important than sports: my belief in American exceptionalism and the meritocracy, my rejection of cancel culture and identity politics, my repudiation of everything woke in our culture. I’ve always said that sports should be an escape from politics, but increasingly, sports became politics.
I never chose to make sports political — you’ve never heard me take the mic and ask an athlete or team to talk more about politics — but I also haven’t avoided discussing hard issues when they’ve collided with sports or pretended they didn’t exist. In a world where many are terrified of saying what they actually think, I’ve sat down in front of the mic and said exactly what I think on daily radio for over 15 years.
And that’s why my audience has been growing every day for nearly two decades now. For the past six years of OutKick radio, Julie Talbott, Don Martin and Scott Shapiro, the best bosses I’ve ever had, have supported me 100%. Not once have I ever gotten a call asking me to avoid a topic or to be careful about what I was saying on a sensitive issue. All three of them have been absolutely fantastic. My wife, whose counsel I trust more than anyone on the planet, said upon meeting Julie and Don for the first time six years ago, “These people barely know you and they already treat you better than anyone you’ve ever worked for.” She, as usual, was right.
Several months ago, Julie Talbott called me with a question: What did I think about the idea of moving to the Rush Limbaugh time slot? Note, she didn’t say, “What do you think about replacing Rush Limbaugh?” She knows better than anyone that no one will ever replace Rush Limbaugh. No one ever replaces a legend, and Rush Limbaugh was the most influential and listened to radio voice across multiple generations. But the battles Rush fought aren’t ending. If anything, they’re just becoming more intense. And I think intense and rigorous and intelligent debate has never been more important in this country than it is right now.
For the past 15 years of daily radio, I’ve answered the question, “How do you decide what to talk about?” with a simple explanation. Sports is the foundation of our show, but we aren’t restricted to sports alone. As anyone who has ever listened to my shows will tell you, that’s remained true for 15 years. Sports has been the foundation, but it hasn’t been the only topic we discuss.
But for the past several months, I’ve had a new question: what if instead of sports as the foundation for our show, we had a broader mandate, one where I could talk about the biggest issues in America every day for three hours? And what if I could do it for the biggest audience in radio with complete editorial freedom and support?
I spent a lot of time thinking about this question and wrestling with the choice. I love my sports radio show, and it’s always hard to leave something you love. But I also loved my local show at 104.5 the Zone, and I loved my column at CBS Sportsline as well. Sometimes, truth be told, you have to leave something you love so that you can grow. And ultimately, I made the decision that my radio voice is more valuable talking about the issues facing the country today than it is talking about who won a game the night before.
So tomorrow will be my final OutKick the Coverage radio show on Fox Sports Radio. I look forward to talking with all of you one last time, and I’m hopeful the phones will even work and allow us to hear from you all as well.
I understand some of you will be upset by my decision, and I respect your opinions. But if I’d worried about what other people think, I’d still be a practicing attorney and I never would have entered media in the first place. In the end, all of us have to make the decisions that are best for ourselves and our immediate families. And let me tell you, my family is really pumped about this new radio show. This morning, as I was writing this column, I took a break to go talk with my ten-year-old. I asked him what he thought about my new radio show, and — and I swear this is 100% true — he said, “I really don’t care, Dad. When can we play Wiffle ball today?”
So as you can see, my family is just as excited about this new show as I am.
For those of you who care more about my career than my son, I’m going to continue to write at OutKick, do a daily OutKick the Show, and do Fox Bet Live on FS1. So those things aren’t changing. And when sports are one of the top stories in the country, guess what, I’ll still be talking about them on the new show too. Our mandate is simple: talk about the biggest stories in America every day in a smart, original, funny and authentic way.
In other words, I’ll keep doing what I’m already doing, just with a bigger mandate and a bigger canvas.
Ultimately, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
So beginning in June, instead of hearing me daily on Fox Sports Radio nationwide, you will be hearing me from 12-3 Eastern every day, on the largest radio show network in the country. And I’ll be joined by co-host Buck Sexton, whom I believe many of you will come to love as well. This is a secret both of us have been keeping quiet for months now. We’ve even done secret mock shows with each other in addition to the daily shows we’ve been doing. Trust me on this, Buck is fantastic, and we are going to have the best daily conversations anywhere on radio. I’m 100% confident of this fact.
Between the new radio show and OutKick being sold to Fox, I’ve been in the midst of daily negotiations for months. I’m ready for all of those to be over now and to get back to focusing on the daily work. (Thanks to Edward Hartman at Fox, in particular, for helping to assure this radio deal happened. Fox is extremely excited about the new show as well, and I’ll be on Tucker Carlson to discuss the new show tonight, which serves as a perfect plug for Fox News.)
Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who have come along for this wild OutKick journey. Some of you have been listening to me since those first nightly ClayNation radio shows. You have made all of this possible, and I hope most of you will come along for the ride on the new show.
One of my idols as a kid was Tennessee explorer Davy Crockett. And Davy Crockett’s life motto was “Be sure you’re right and then go ahead.”
I think about that motto all the time. And I’ve added my own coda to this, which is necessary in our new woke culture: “And don’t worry about who follows you.”
Unfortunately in our modern woke culture, most people don’t make their own bold choices. They think about what they’re supposed to say or what they’re supposed to believe, and then they seek, like sheep, to follow the lead of the woke masses. I’ve never done that, and I never will.
And to my OutKick VIP members and those considering joining, I’m leaving it up to you to continue to fight the fight against mainstream non-sense. If you’re looking to speak your mind regardless of the consequences and leave woke sports media in the dust, OutKick VIP is the place for you. Click here to join today.
After much contemplation, I’m sure I’m right and now I’m going ahead.
See you on June 21st.
53 CommentsLeave a Reply
Happy for you Clay. This feels like the right move. I haven’t listened much in the last month or two because honestly I do not care about the sports being played right now. Looking forward to checking out the new show. I am sure that come this fall, the new show will not forget about college football. Best of luck
As an outkick listener since day 1, it’s sad to see you go, but it’s nice to be able to continue to get your perspectives in a different format. Growth is a positive thing and inevitable if you are successful. Best of luck with the new endeavor.
So what happens to your morning crew and what will be taking the 6 EDT time slot?
Wow! Congratulations Clay, I’ve been a fan since you had a weekly call in spot on Jox 94.5 In Birmingham. Joined Outkick.com on the first day.
Heartbreaking to see you leave Outkick im happy for you Clay! I joined the VIP over a year ago and as far as podcasts go it was the best decision I’ve ever made! I know you will kill it at the new show and I will definitely be watching! The time slot actually makes it easier for me to maybe even call in lol.
All the best Clay!!
Much better use of your talents Clay. Your honesty and courage in standing up to the Coronabros can be taken to a whole new level in this arena. I have been downloading both you and Buck and listening separately. Now, it’s one stop shopping. The rearranging of the post Rush media landscape is fascinating. El Rushbo understood an underserved market and made a fortune delivering fun content that made a difference. Thanks for blazing a new trail and best of luck
I am excited to hear this. Can’t wait for this new show as I enjoy listening to both shows separately.
I’m confused ??? Is Premier syndicating your new show 12-3 EST w/ Buck? THAT would be “replacing Rush” … or – like Bongino / Loesch / et al will you simply be in various markets across the country from 12-3 EST ??? Syndicated by ????? ?
Premier seems content to keep running the Rush From The Grave format of the past three months …. IMO, “most folks” do not understand radio syndication and their local market.
Wow big news. Looking forward to more people hearing honesty and facts from you and Buck. What becomes of the Outkick show now?
“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. — Marcus Aurelius”
I am so incredibly happy for you, but this was what I was afraid of, not being able to hear you anymore in the morning. Once you said that fox bought your show, I thought bigger things were probably in the works. I am 100% certain that you have made the best choice for you and your family. It’s just unfortunate for me that I don’t have 3 hours from noon to 3 p.m. to listen to you everyday. I wish I did, but I don’t. So I will miss you greatly.
Congrats. Looking forward to listening to you on daily basis.
Your career trajectory the last year has seemingly outpaced cryptocurrency and meme stocks. I look forward to you educating the next generation of radio listeners about the beauty of free market capitalism and the stupidity of wokeism, police defunding, and socialism.
My question has been answered by this article in WSJ … YES, you are being syndicated by Premiere as RL was … ergo you and Buck are indeed “replacing the RL Show in all his markets”. COOL!
You had me at Davy Crockett. That’s been my guide since the Sunday Walt Disney shows circa 1955.
“Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” I can still hear Fess Parker’s portrayal.
I suspect you and Buck will draw millions and millions of ears. Since Rush’s passing, we’ve all been looking for someone, something to fill the void.
As a radiohead, I’m curious which stations jump onboard right out of the gate. I’ll make requests of my local affiliates if I don’t hear you June 21. I encourage others to do the same. It makes a difference.
Great news and good luck !
So much for nothing changing as we were told a few weeks ago by Clay.
Not sure what Fox thought they were getting with Outkick or how much they paid for it but without Clay it’s a website and nothing more honestly.
Congratulations Clay. Well deserved and quite an honor.
Congrats and god bless.
Congrats Clay! Excited to hear more of Clay outside the world of sports and Buck always has great takes, I’m betting this show will be gold. Hopefully Fox Sports Radio replaces Clay’s time slot with Jonas and Brady, love listening to their joking around yet informative approach to sports radio.
Luv it luv it. Ok maybe a lil jealous of his meteoric rise but it’s truly affirming. Sometimes the good guys win. Congrats Clay, I’ll be tuning in to both you and Outkick
Congrats Clay! That’s big news. As a lifetime listener to Rush, I am very familiar with Buck’s work as he has subbed for him many times over the years. You two will make a great pair!
Wow. I just pulled up a picture of me and Clay from 2010 at Rippy’s in Nashville before the Super Bowl. I had him sign my terrible towel, after his article on how it was terribly stupid.
3HL originals like myself need a limited edition t shirt.
Congrats Clay. I joined as a VIP mainly because of your clear, well thought out, and factual political commentary during the past year when most big name sports personalities were to scarred to take a stand and tell their viewership the truth. I think you will do a terrific job.
Congrats, won’t be able to listen as much but I’m sure you will continue to speak the truth, keep it up.
I miss Rush Limbaugh. A lot. He was more to me than an entertainer and a radio host who I just “agree with”. He was to me a compass to help me navigate at times an inarticulable position that he made easy to explain and understand. I grew to love Rush and never though I’d ever miss someone on the radio. Such as life, change is something to deal with and as a subscriber to Outkick I’m glad to hear Clay and Buck are going all in for this time slot. I’ll be very open to your content and am excited for you both moving into a future that needs the energy and intelligence to articulate conservative viewpoints. Good luck!
Same here. I feel ya.
EIB fans might enjoy this ….https://bobleesays.com/the-rush-chronicles/
Bittersweet. Not a farewell but bon voyage. But given the times we live in your bigger canvas is sorely needed. On a more humorous note, wonder how nervous Colin Cowherd is these days…
God rest his gentle soul. Rush’s passing left a hole in my heart. This is an answer to prayer. It is the right move. God Bless America. America Matters.
Yep, yep, yep! Well said.
2 BIG Thumbs UP!
Congrats Clay. Onward and upward!
Congrats on your success! I will definitely miss listening to you on Fox Sports radio but look forward to the new show.
Wow! Congrats Clay. I’m honored to be a VIP member associated with someone who could fill that slot. I loved Rush. He was such a fun, upbeat, talented guy! I wonder if my podcast subscription will continue with your airtime. Go get ’em and DBAP!
Congrats Clay, Go Get Em!
I’ve always liked Buck when he filled in on Rush’s show so I am sure you two will be great. Good luck
Congratulations! Also glad you will be contributing to Outkick and making OK video segments. Big shoes to fill, but looking forward to checking it out.
I started listening to Clay last year after the Pandemic broke out. The Ticket in Dallas, a station that I had listened to for the last 26+ years just got to woke for me. Craig Miller was the chief Coronabro there. So last June 1, I turned off the ticket and went somewhere else for my Sports Talk. I caught out kick on YouTube that week and was hooked.
At the same time, I also listened to Rush, and listening to both Rush and Clay, l had a gut feeling that when Rush passed, Clay Travis may eventually be the one to ultimately pick up the torch. June 21, that torch will be lit.
I first listened to Rush when he was on local radio in Sacramento. The one thing that really set him apart is you could tell he was having fun.
You might enjoy these … https://bobleesays.com/the-rush-chronicles/
Way this is going, next we’ll see
Congrats Clay. That is so awesome. I’ll be listening. What an awesome accomplishment.
You are among the radio gods now. I think this show will be huge! Congrats.
Congrats! Nobody will ever be able to replace Rush. I can’t wait for Buck and you to knock it out of the park! Watch your back, the lying liberal lefties will be ten fold out to get ya now! Hang tough!!
Wow, congratulations, Clay! What a journey. Best of luck in your new role. We’ll see you there. I appreciate your courage and ideals. Give em hell!
Fantastic! Can’t wait for the new show!
Congrats, Clay! You will do very, very well with this.
Congrats Clay! You started with nothing, risked everything, and defeated all in your path along the way. The reward is carrying the torch from Rush………Keep going! We`ll be tuning in.
Now I gotta listen to politics again…I luckily found you leaving that world.
….they will come at you with everything and then some shit you never seen. Let me know what I can do to help, you will not withstand the onslaught alone. Start or grow the Outkick with the Conservatarian model. We are out here waiting on 2 first names to bring just the FACTS the FACTS just the FACTS. You can create senate and house leaders keep your ass behind that golden EIB Microphone for 40 years. Ain’t a better way to spread knowledge. YOU ARE THE STRAW THAT STIRS THE DRINK FOR 40 YEARS…remember to take vacations tmrw is coming regardless we want you at your best n happy.CLAY MOFO TRAVIS. GET WOKEN UP!!!!
Clay, so glad to hear this news. I’ve been thinking for a while you would be the perfect fit to take Rush’s timeslot. I don’t have as much time as I would like to listen or comment, but I joined the VIP club just to support you and your frank opinions. America desperately needs a common sense voice with an open minded, NOT WOKE, opinion like yours. Even though the knuckleheads took your off the station here in Nashville, I still listened on my pone on the way to work each morning.
So glad and happy to hear the news Clay! I know you’ll do well. Been listening since the 3HL days.
I had wondered who could take over for Rush. What made Rush unique is he was steps ahead on issues. When I heard this news I could easily see this was the perfect solution. I have been telling people for years to follow you on Twitter or got to Outkick. A few months back at dinner and told another one about you. He got on his phone and read the first Q/A in your Anonymous Mailbag that week. His comment was it was entertaining and good insight.
You have a gift of seeing what others can’t and your insight is like Rush’s – steps ahead and on target. What I like better about your insight is its fresh, plain, and down to earth. Can’t wait to hear this new show and continue with Anonymous Mailbag!