Life in the slower lane
Since 2014, I have maintained what many writers would consider an insane prolific pace, writing almost every day.
David and I started The Racket News back in December, 2020. It was nearly a year ago when we “soft launched” this site. We had no business plan, no intentional growth plan, no editor, no publisher, no mailing list, and no backers. We started it because our regular gig writing for Erick Erickson’s The Resurgent went away.
As in baseball, we were unceremoniously traded away from Erick’s site to The First TV, which was, and remains, a pro-Trump pot-stirring bastion of “shut up, stupid!” Thankfully, the folks over there didn’t dump us because we frequently write facts that are, umm, inconvenient to the headliners on that site. The main reason they can afford to be gracious, I think, is that The First TV is primarily a streaming site for right-wing talkers like Buck Sexton, Jesse Kelly, Mike Slater, Dana Loesch, and—unfortunately—Bill O’Reilly.
Kelly hosts The Jesse Kelly Show, formerly the Buck Sexton Show, which is syndicated by iHeartRadio/Premiere. Sexton himself co-hosts the old Rush Limbaugh Show for Premiere Networks along with Clay Travis. Dana Loesch has her own show from 9 a.m. to noon syndicated by Audacy. Most of the crew over at The First TV came over from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze TV and radio operation. I have met Jesse Kelly a few times, and he’s really tall (he’s actually a super nice guy). I’ve appeared on Dana Loesch’s old TV show one time. I don’t know Sexton at all. I’m glad all those folks are doing something with their media careers. I’d like to think in some small way David and I have helped them.
Meanwhile, our old fearless, and generous, leader Erick has remained at the top of the Atlanta market ratings (not just talk, but everything, including the Atlanta Braves!) since moving to his noon to 3 p.m. slot, where Rush was broadcast on WSB radio in Atlanta. Erick is syndicated through Cox Media, WSB’s owner, but isn’t using a traditional syndicator. He, and his tiny, dedicated crew, Philip Swicegood and Charlie Thomas (who is also producer for Mark Arum on WSB radio), are building their own radio following one station at a time. If I had to bet on one horse in the Rush race, it would be Erick, because he’s not a publicity hound, not a troll, not a clickbaiter, and not an outrage addict. Erick is simply himself, all the time. The guy you hear on the radio is the same guy I’ve shared pizza with.
If I had my druthers, I’d be writing for Erick, but alas The Resurgent is gone. Gone as in, taken down, memory-holed, and only accessible using the Wayback Machine. I am proud to say that I was one of the original writers at The Resurgent when it debuted in 2016. There were days when I was the lonely writer, so alone on the page, when Erick suffered a serious lung condition. If I was a better writer back then, I suppose I could have built a real media career doing that. Later on, we brought on David Thornton, whom I had never met in person until I first moved to Atlanta in late 2017.
(I took a new job, moving from Warner Robins, where I’d lived for 26 years, and was staying in a hotel for a few days until moving to a rental house in Alpharetta. On my first day at my new position, my shoe heel separated and I crumpled to the ground like Zach Wilson getting viciously sacked. My ACL injuries all came back to roost at once, and I could barely walk. I felt like a 90-year-old, and the next night, was eating dinner with David to keep me company. You won’t find a kinder person if you look for a lifetime.)
David and I met again at the 2018 Resurgent Gathering in Atlanta. When it was time for The Resurgent to go away, we didn’t want to break up the band just yet, so we added my brother Jay (who joins me on podcasts, which we need to do more of), and launched this site on Substack. We also occasionally have other writers like Susan Bagwell and Ed Willing.
Since 2014, I have maintained what many writers would consider an insane prolific pace, writing almost every day. I wrote a near-daily diary on RedState, then published in my little-read personal blog at sgberman.com (which I’ve allowed to lapse). Then I wrote for The Resurgent from 2016 through 2020. I also did a paid short stint at BizPacReview, which I had to leave when it got waaaaay to Trumpy for me (and unlike The First TV, they didn’t allow me to publish what I wanted to write). Neither David, Jay nor I have asked for, or collected, a dime from The Racket News.
I love writing, and have many pieces sitting around at one time, irons in the fire. But the daily pace has become in many ways, a chore. David and I discussed our writing pace over the last few days and agreed that we’re publishing too often. We’ve plateaued subscribers and even lost some because we flood email boxes with two or even three pieces a day, in a market when the topics we cover are frequently hit by much larger and better-followed sites.
Based on the ratings data, covering Donald Trump is also a turnoff. Joe Cunningham noted that Trump stories are tanking in the media.
We write a lot about Trump. Probably too much. It’s like the moth joke told by the late Norm Macdonald to Conan O’Brien. We keep spinning the lament tale on Trumpism and its nefarious cast of ne’er-do-wells, but really, we only came in because the light was on. Trump is a powerful light for us moths.
In any case, getting to the point: I’m going to write less. I can’t speak for David, but I think he’s also going through a period of less writing.
It doesn’t mean we’re going to scale back or abandon The Racket News. Far from it. Think of it like the old 70s ad for Lite Beer: We’ll be less filling, but tastes great; or “everything you always wanted in an opinion blog, but less.”
What does this mean? To me, it means I will get to finish some of the stories sitting in the “TK” file. For one, I’m working on one regarding the narrative on COVID-19 Delta surge in red states vs the actual correlations. Which is the strongest and weakest data, and is the media picking the right one or just cherry picking? I am going blind on a giant spreadsheet—and I’m only working on Georgia so far.
I also started a piece about the “Golden Age of content.” It’s been over a year since I’ve had traditional cable TV, and I’ve never been happier as a cord-cutter. We have Hulu if we want to watch live sports, or something on an actual television network. But the kids never watch it—they’re glued to Youtube. They watch Mr. Beast, Mark Rober, and a bunch of gamer streamers who do nothing but play video games so other people can watch when those same viewers own the video games they’re watching other people play. I know.
I have to admit, I’m pretty hooked on Daily Dose of Internet, and I never miss anything Destin Sandlin posts on SmarterEveryDay. There’s so much I want to write about the positive impact of social media and Youtube in particular, but the daily grind has prevented me from digging deep enough to find the gold. As you know, you have to dig through a thousand feet of sludge, sewage, and compost to find the good stuff.
Yes, there are serious issues facing the nation, the GOP, conservatives (the previous two are no longer as connected as they’ve been in the past), the Christian church, and American society. I want to cover these and will continue to peruse all my daily sources (I pay more for magazine and newspaper subscriptions than I pay for Internet). But I will focus on deeper stories, better sources, and more complete research. This means I won’t write daily for a while. Maybe every few days, maybe weekly. We’ll see.
The fun of all of this is that you get to take the journey with me, and with The Racket News. Technically, we never did our formal launch. This past year has been the “soft launch.” It will be a blast to see where all this leads, and maybe one day, we will be able to make some kind of income from it. David and I are not in it for the money (believe us!), but we think that the worker is worth his wages.
I’ll close with what God showed me through His Word on this subject. Matthew 5:25-27.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Posting every day has not increased my lifespan one minute. It’s a nice creative outlet for me, and I enjoy every single one of my readers. (Okay, that’s a lie. I enjoy most of my readers most of the time, but I love you all.) At my age, God is going to use me for what He wants to use me for. Saying “no” to God is not what I want to do right now. I believe God wants me to write and continue writing.
You know, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
So for now, and until we decide to change it, I’m going to be living my writing life in the slower lane. I hope you enjoy the ride with me.
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Hope you enjoy your well deserved, slower pace of writing(Hopefully along with some good R & R's). I don't know about how others feel, but I didn't at all mind the multiple pieces per day in my inbox. It was always a good reason to a take a work break and read what you and David have to say on the issues of the day. The pace of writing from you two was impressive to say to the least, especially given that how well written the pieces were and are. Whatever pace you guys decide on posting pieces from here on, I'll keep on reading when they come.
Interesting comments Steve. I've gotten the impression i am one of those followers you may not "enjoy" which is really okay. The good news is i don't respond to make friends. I have found writing to be cathartic. It helps me think, makes me better able to understand who, what and where i am.
Do yourself a favor, save this column and drag it out, every 10 years or so. Watch the aging process as you come to understand how you are evolving. When i was younger, i wanted to do it all. I needed to see how much i could get done. I was always checking the mirror on my own reflection. Now days, i simply don't care.
Getting old has it's rewards. For some strange reason the Catholic military high school i attended has started sending out death notices of class mates. Yikes, 3 in the last two weeks. I also find my self telling my wife as the world crumbles around us, "thank God we are old."
Anyway, nice to see you looking inward. It is the best way to grow. I've told you before, your articles drive me crazy as you careen down the highway of life. Some folks love predictability, some not so much. You strike me as the latter.
Anyway, good to see, and read, your thoughts. Slowing down is perhaps the greatest joy i have found in helping find my sanity. I suspect you will find much the same as quality is almost always better than quantity.