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Next week, The Dave Ramsey Show will celebrate its 20th anniversary. One small way we're recognizing this amazing accomplishment is by publishing a series of articles about the history of the show.
We'll talk about the callers, team, the stations, the studios and the future—all of the elements that have made The Dave Ramsey Show one of the most successful talk radio shows in the country.
Feel free to add your memories and favorite calls in the comments section below.
Dave Ramsey will be the first person to tell you that The Dave Ramsey Show would never have made it without the support of his talented radio team.
The show started with one staff member (Dave), along with his co-host, Roy Matlock, on a little show called The Money Game. In 1996, Dave began looking for some help to take the show national.
He brought on Blake Thompson, who, at the time, was only three years out of college. "The only thing I knew about Dave was from the little ads for The Money Game in a restroom of a local sports bar where I watched Vanderbilt games," Blake said.
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When Blake arrived, he hit the ground running. "The first week, Dave and I had a meeting with the station manager at WTN—the only station we were on at the time—about syndicating the show ourselves," Blake said.
"He sternly asked Dave who was going to take care of the technical aspect of syndicating our show. Dave took about half a second, turned, and pointed to me—the rookie who had only been around a week! I turned red and tried to play it off like I had a plan and knew what I was doing. Believe it or not, we pulled it off!"
A few years later, The Money Game became The Dave Ramsey Show. From those meager beginnings, The Dave Ramsey Show has grown to what it is today. Though Dave's organization now includes more than 300 team members, the behind-the-scenes radio team is actually quite small.
The Team Today: The Magic Behind the Scenes
It all starts with Blake, Dave's senior producer, who manages the show. Lara Johnson, Blake's assistant producer, spends most of her mornings working with her assistant, Kelly Daniel. Together they follow up on voicemails left by potential callers and handle other logistical things, like booking debt-free callers. She also spends each morning researching articles and daily quotes for Dave to reference on the show. Blake makes the final call on what will appear on the show.
Behind the scenes, Matt Aaron makes the technical aspects of the show go off without a hitch. If Dave needed a satellite hookup from the moon, Matt would figure out a way to get it done. He keeps The Dave Ramsey Show on the air without any problems every day, and he also works with other engineers at affiliate radio stations.
"I could go on for hours about the details he takes care of—everything from fixing power outages to updating hundreds of pieces of equipment in our control room," Blake said. "If Matt is sitting in the studio enjoying the show, this is a good thing. It means no emergencies!"
Zack Bennett is the audio editor for the radio show, which means he's in charge of listening to the show daily, archiving it, and making notes. Zack also creates the best "best-of" shows in the business to run when Dave is out of town.
As for Dave? With a company of more than 300 team members and responsibilities beyond the radio show, Dave does no daily show prep. "We can finish each other's sentences," Blake said. "Both Lara and I know what he likes to have and what he doesn't for each show. So he has complete trust in what we put in front of him when he walks in for the show to start."
"Blake has been with me 16 years," Dave said. "Lara's been with me 13 years. We literally can change the shape of the show by giving each other a look, much less saying something. We literally can complete each other's sentences. It's an amazing gift that God has given us in spending that many years in the booth together."
So while Dave Ramsey is the well-known face and "talent" on The Dave Ramsey Show, it's Blake's team that makes all the elements of a nationally syndicated radio show come together every day.
What is your favorite memory from the show? Let us know by leaving a comment below.