Advertisement
BNM Summit
Sunday, July 21, 2024
Jim Cutler Voiceovers
BNM Summit
Ramsey Solutions
CIS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Blake Thompson Led a Digital Revolution for Dave Ramsey and Ramsey Solutions

In 1996, Dave Ramsey — host of what was then called The Money Game — told SuperTalk 99.7 WTN executives he wanted to nationally syndicate the program. When engineers told him they were too busy to handle the technical aspect, they asked who would handle the syndication. Ramsey pointed to his producer — Blake Thompson — who was in his first week on the job.

Thompson didn’t know it at the time, but that moment would go on to represent much of his tenure at Ramsey Solutions, leading the company into new frontiers.

- Advertisement -

While maybe not viewed as a usual suspect in the digital media landscape, The Ramsey Network has seen some of the medium’s greatest success in the podcasting and digital video mediums. The Ramsey Show’s YouTube channel features more than 626,000 subscribers. That number pales in comparison to its “Highlights” channel, which boasts just over 3 million.

The company has compiled more than a billion views on YouTube, while simultaneously eclipsing more than a billion downloads on Apple Podcasts.

Blake Thompson was hesitant to take credit for the company’s overwhelming success in the spaces. Instead, he pointed to the message Dave Ramsey and Ramsey Solutions present, and the need to embrace whatever platforms their intended audience uses as the biggest drivers of the content’s success.

“It’s the same mindset of wanting to get to people where they’re at. So maybe a new generation comes up, and they’ve heard about our show because of radio, because their parents listened, or some older generation. The real young generation is starting to come up and they already know about us because of radio, which is so cool to see. But they happen to have a new Tesla that doesn’t have a radio, and they have a CarPlay, or they only use YouTube. They don’t even know what cable TV is,” Blake Thompson joked.

“And so with that mindset, it’s just about reaching the most people where they’re at. That’s how we went about it. We just learned early on to always try to be a step ahead in what’s coming … We try to stay ahead of the industry in with the right context and kind of see where it’s going and try to be a step ahead in planning of production … but now we’ve learned to shift and also spread and disperse more in our distribution department to these other platforms.”

Despite the network’s current success, getting to this point was a series of trials and errors.

“The thing we learned earlier was the format difference. We did, forever, just cut and paste. And when I say that, we did a radio format three hours a day, and then just put those three hours on a podcast Monday through Friday. We just threw up three hours up on YouTube,” Thompson said. “Well, the way you’re measured for success with analytics are just different on those and as time goes, they look at things differently. Where, of course, you want to be on radio all day long, but maybe on YouTube, they’re going more for consumption and how much time is really spent on the content you’re putting up.

“So we really learned that, actually, you could do too much content on some of those digital platforms. On podcast, we were doing 15 hours a week. You normally said ‘That’s great because people are getting all this information.’ But at the end of the day, you’re not having someone sit in their car for three hours. It’s the same with radio. You’re trying to catch up on where they’re at back in the day that we started trimming that stuff down. And we had to learn that we had to do those in different formats or different lengths in order to win in those spaces.”

Ramsey Solutions is actually seeing its digital efforts translate to increased listenership for its terrestrial radio offering of The Ramsey Show.

“The best way to describe it is that they’re going to a Short because they happen to be on YouTube and they see a clip of Dave — even an old clip in the studio — and he hits a felt need with them that we’re doing a good job leading them further down and then they realize ‘Oh, this guy’s on the radio. I just happen to be on YouTube looking on how to fix my car hood. And I see this guy and then I recognize him from a billboard in my market or I’ve heard that name.’

“So in our last survey, we’ve really seen a crazy amount of people who have even come from those digital shorts, or Instagram, or TikTok over into listening to radio,” Blake Thompson shared. “It was neat to see people discovering us in those really short formats on video in other places, and then realize that we’re in their market on radio and tune it in when they’re in their car heading to work.”

One could think that seeing the expansive growth on the podcast and digital video fronts would be a tempting endeavor to chase full-time, leaving behind the show’s radio roots. However, Blake Thompson remained adamant that Ramsey Solutions will continue to be a radio-first organization.

“The fact that we’re still winning there and that we still get testimonies from people who have paid off all their debt, or call in, or come to the lobby to watch this on the glass, it’s still a major thing. We just treat it as equal as any other thing, we kind of have the mindset of whatever we’re doing, we want to be the best at that,” he shared. “We don’t say one thing’s more important than the other.

“Because if you come at it with a mindset that it’s about the people and not the platform and the analytics and just the ROI, and it’s truly about the people, then that’s the way you’ll go about treating radio, treating YouTube, treating Spotify, and treating whatever the new thing is down the line. Radio is just so special to us because it’s what made The Ramsey Show more of a household name. Because that was the original. That’s the way we grew, that was our baby. That’s our mothership.

“So it’s a mixture of me being an old timer here, making sure (new employees) understand that mixed with that, ‘Hey, it’s about the audience.’ So as long as radio’s around — and I’ve had many platforms that have come down the line of ‘That’s going to beat radio,’ and guess what a lot of those are dead and gone, and radio’s still here.”

Blake Thompson has been the right-hand man of Dave Ramsey and his radio network for nearly 30 years. The media world has certainly seen transformative change in that time. And while Thompson freely admits he never saw the company reaching the heights it has, especially in the digital realm, he was quick to point out that Ramsey Solutions has grown into the image its founder had when he launched it decades ago.

“It blows my mind that Dave envisioned the campus we have now, the size of the team we have now, and more importantly, the amount of people affected by the messages in the lives helped and change in the hope given,” Thompson said. “We both started together in a closet doing a radio show here in Nashville at the time, and we would drive 40 miles round trip to go do that show in a little closet studio on the campus of the Opryland Hotel.

“He sold me on this vision because it had happened to him, gone into debt, and doing it the wrong way, that he was called to teach people how to avoid the way he did it. And the phones my first day when I’m in there were lit up. There wasn’t an open line.

“And I didn’t know much about money. I wasn’t taught this stuff in high school … but I saw the need, I understood that it was bigger than just Nashville and that other people needed it, but I never would have guessed that we would have hit a billion downloads on Apple … I had no clue that this was going to be ahead of us, at this size. Dave knew it because it equaled how many people’s lives were changed.”

Garrett Searight
Garrett Searighthttps://barrettmedia.com
Garrett Searight is Barrett Media's News Editor, which includes writing bi-weekly industry features and a weekly column. He has previously served as Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH, and is the radio play-by-play voice of Northern Michigan University hockey. Reach out to him at [email protected].

Popular Articles