Joe Rogan, a Professional People Pleaser

The Podcast Realm and ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’

Max Straub

Joe Rogan is the top podcast host in the world, but he has come under fire recently for giving a platform to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

In the early part of the 20th century, radio was all the rage—it filled homes across the country and world with good news, bad news, stories, music, and other entertainment. Then the television came along, and radio became a dying art form. The media goliath that once ruled the nation and captivated audiences’ ears was lost to the newcomer that brought motion pictures into the living room of many Americans. Then as quickly as television took over, it was taken over by the internet, which brought  the emergence of blogs, video-sharing, streaming platforms, and social media. But one thing that it brought seems eerily remnant of the days huddled around the radio: Podcasts. 

Podcasts are a form of media that brings the radio shows and talk shows into a modern format. There are a variety of different types of podcasts, including sports, talk shows, true crime, and traditional storytelling, among other genres. 

There are several podcasts that reign supreme. The top three podcasts in the USA right now are The Joe Rogan Experience, a talk show, The Daily, a news podcast presented by The New York Times, and NPR News Now, a news podcast presented by National Public Radio.

The Joe Rogan Experience is a long-form podcast, with episodes ranging from an hour long to sometimes three hours long, released on a nearly daily basis. Rogan is a comedian and an Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator in addition to a podcast host. The show started in 2009 and currently has released 1,570 episodes. In every episode, Rogan has new guests from all walks of life, featuring astrophysicists, political pundits, athletes, comedians, and more.

The problem with Rogan is that he is a total people pleaser. He likes to make people feel like he agrees with them. Whether this is a ploy to make his guests feel more comfortable and open or a characteristic of Rogan’s personality is for the listener to decide. 

Whether his guest is Alex Jones, a far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist, or Bernie Sanders, a socialist democratic politician, Rogan seems to agree with most everything they say. This can often allow for controversy. His audience, however, does not seem to mind. He hosts the most successful podcast in the world and has recently signed an agreement with Spotify that has made him the most successful podcast of all time. 

One comparison that one could make is between Rogan and Dick Cavett. Cavett was a wildly successful talk show host who got his start in the late 1960’s interviewing a wide range of guests who he would converse and indulge in debates with. Highlights of Cavett’s show present viewers with respectful discussions that often turn ugly between guests from opposing viewpoints on the show. This wide spectrum of guests on the show at one time is something that Rogan lacks during his podcast.

Whenever he has guests on the show, they usually appear by themselves and when he does have multiple guests on the show at once they usually agree on most topics and come from similar backgrounds or professions. In this world now it may shed bad light on Rogan to have his guests argue and debate, but he already has many guests on his show from varying backgrounds and political beliefs. This is often oddly apolitical, with a majority of the time Rogan playing devil”s Advocate for someone whom they are either making fun of or picking apart their flaws.  

This is different from Cavett’s show because Cavett would often side with logic and reason while Rogan often takes odd positions on various topics that make it difficult to put Rogan into a specific political category or ideology. It seems though that the criticism for Rogan does not seem to be too detrimental to the success  of his podcast because many of Rogan’s listeners agree with him on a wide range of ideas. 

Maybe a Dick Cavett show could not survive in 2020 because it would be obvious what side the host would be taking. Despite the criticism, Rogan shows no signs of stopping and his success only seems to be increasing. 

A man who does not fit into one category or identity, yet many at the same time, has produced a show that a variety of listeners tune into every day. There is a lesson in Rogan’s success that shows that someone so big and with so much influence can provide a platform for controversial guests like Alex Jones and still be successful. Rogan seems to have good intentions when releasing his podcast. These intentions may not always be seen or realized but for the most part he’s done quite well seeing as he is the most successful podcast in the world. Perhaps that is the main reason for his large success. The idea that one man can pander to such a large group and have such an array of opinions and yet still gain the respect of astrophysicists and conspiracy theorists is one that hardly is ever achievable.  That is for the listener to decide.