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Dave Portnoy, founder of men’s lifestyle website Barstool Sports, has been sharing his blunt, sophomoric and frequently controversial take on sports and pop culture for 13 years via his blog turned media brand. Now he’s expanding that voice to a new platform, SiriusXM.
Barstool Sports has inked a deal with SiriusXM to produce a national daily show dedicated to the same brand of satire and irreverent humor that attracted its dedicated fans. Barstool Radio on SiriusXM will debut Jan. 3 on the SiriusXM Rush channel, which currently features programming focused predominantly on MMA.
“We had a lot of fans internally of the Barstool website,” says Steve Cohen, SiriusXM’s senior vp, sports programming. “I got excited about the opportunity to work with these people and bring their brand to radio.”
Every weekday for two hours, Portnoy — known to Barstool Sports readers as “El Presidente” — and the cast of characters who work as bloggers for his New York-based media company will go live to discuss the latest sports and entertainment news. He says that the radio show will become his No. 1 priority.
“It’ll be a window into the everyday life of working at Barstool,” Portnoy says, noting that they’ll take calls from listeners and feature guest hosts. “We’ll cover everything that’s going on. It’s very similar to the brand of Barstool Sports, all from a satirical lens.”
That means Portnoy won’t shy away from the controversial commentary that has gotten Barstool into hot water in the past. The site features a whole section devoted to “girls,” runs a recurring feature called “Guess That Ass” and once published a blog post from Portnoy titled “Guess What? I’m Bringing Back the Word ‘C—.” Barstool’s content, and its community, has often been criticized as misogynistic. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated published a piece about “how Barstool Sports uses social media as a weapon.”
But SiriusXM, which has been in business with shock-radio personality Howard Stern since 2004, won’t ask Portnoy to tone down his rhetoric for the show. “I don’t worry too much about controversy,” says Cohen. “We like to have fun, and we’re not afraid to push the envelope. We don’t censor people.”
For his part, Portnoy says the site is meant to be viewed as a platform for humor. “We’ve never written anything that was intended to offend people. It’s always in a comedic lens,” he says, adding, “I have a pretty confident feeling that I understand what I think is funny and what other people think is funny.”
That humor has gotten more attention as Portnoy has grown his media business from a blog to a staff of 50 that manages a network of websites, podcasts and social media platforms. The site now sees seven million visitors a month.
Portnoy in January sold a majority stake in Barstool to Peter Chernin’s The Chernin Group, which also partially owns youth-oriented Fullscreen and, via a recent deal with Reese Witherspoon, female-focused digital media firm Hello Sunshine. Barstool named its first CEO, former AOL executive Erika Nardini, over the summer.
Nardini has focused on growing Barstool in new areas, including its deal with SiriusXM. “It has been a great home for creators,” she says of the satellite radio company. “And it’s been an awesome platform for people who have a lot to say but also who are interesting in their own right. And that’s one of the things that makes Barstool really unique.”
Barstool Radio on SiriusXM will air live every weekday beginning at 12 p.m. ET on SiriusXM Rush and via the SiriusXM app.
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