Ralph Garman on His New Daily Podcast, Leaving 'Kevin & Bean' and Terrestrial Radio's Future
The longtime KROQ personality is launching his own show, 'The Ralph Report,' which will feature his take on news, current events and entertainment; celebrity interviews; impressions; and more.
It's not an overstatement to say that many fans of KROQ's morning show Kevin & Bean were devastated to learn of Ralph Garman's departure from the Los Angeles-based radio station in November.
Garman had been with the show for 18 years, contributing to numerous segments, leading "The Showbiz Report" and providing multiple impressions of famous figures ranging from President Donald Trump to Taylor Swift.
In that time, he hasn't rested on his laurels. Garman has been working on his own daily show, The Ralph Report, which launched Monday on Patreon, a membership platform where "patrons" pay to receive content from creators. Listeners — aka what Garman is calling the Garmy — can pay monthly subscription fees in varying amounts, from $3-$20, for access to the daily show along with bonus content, invitations to live chats, swag and other perks, depending on which payment level they choose.
The Ralph Report will feature Garman's take on news, current events and entertainment; celebrity interviews; impressions; sports reports from Jay Busbee; reports from U.K. correspondent Steve Ashton; and more features. (Garman also co-hosts the Hollywood Babble-On podcast with filmmaker Kevin Smith.)
After the first episode debuted Monday, the Philadelphia native took time out to talk to The Hollywood Reporter about what fans can expect, his departure from Kevin & Bean and the future of terrestrial radio.
This is a big day for you: Your new show launched, and your Eagles are in the Super Bowl. Congratulations! Will you be going to the game?
What a two-fer! In any other time in my life, I probably would, but trying to start a new venture and with a 7-year-old kid to take care of, it's a little overwhelming. I'll probably just watch it at home with my friends and family.
What was the genesis of The Ralph Report?
Initially, when I lost my job at KROQ, the plan was to segue into another job at another radio station. And when I started taking meetings with other stations, it dawned on me that what I really wanted to do was not get back into the same situation where I was told what to do and how to do it and what the content had to be. Having done a podcast with my buddy and partner, Kevin Smith, I realized I wanted to produce my own content and make that [the next step in] my career. A lot of listeners from KROQ were saying via emails and tweets that they missed me in the morning, that they'd love to hear me every day again, their commute is not the same, and is there any way I could do my own show every morning? It dawned on me that I could [do my own show] and not have to go through a radio station or a television station. I did research and met the folks at Patreon.
The first show is free for anyone to listen. Will listeners need to be members to hear Tuesday's show and beyond?
To celebrate the launch of the podcast, we put the premiere episode out there [for anyone to hear]. Moving forward, the podcasts are only available to subscribers.
What's the schedule for new shows?
We'll have new shows Monday to Friday, every week. It's a daily show, half-hour. That's about what I feel comfortable with, since I'm producing original content every day, and I want to make sure it's up early, by 7 a.m., so people can listen in their cars on the way to work.
After so many years as part of an on-air team, do you find it challenging to be hosting a show solo?
It's completely different. Even with my other podcast, Hollywood Babble-On, I am hosting with Kevin Smith, so this is a very different animal. [For The Ralph Report], I did a sitdown with Jimmy Kimmel, an hourlong interview, that I'm cutting into highlights that I'm playing this week. Other segments will be prerecorded, or I'll talking to people overseas [like Ashton]. I'm editing all that together, so it's much more of a production than I'm used to doing. Usually the people at the radio station handle that. Here, I'm not only the driving force on the air, but I'm the guy piecing it all together. It's quite the adventure. It's labor-intensive. But if you do what you love, you're not really working. It's incredibly exciting, and the listeners have responded so positively. People really seem to enjoy it.
You also are bringing some familiar segments back, like "Showbiz Report" and "Bachelor Report."
I wanted to provide something of value to listeners that they really enjoyed, a lot of the elements of things that I used to do on radio. There are a lot of things I never had the chance to do. This will be the best representation of me out of anything I've ever done.
In your first podcast, you also tease that you are bringing back "Sex U," something that KROQ dropped amid FCC regulatory concerns. It must feel nice to be freed up to do more of what you want without those kind of worries or oversight.
I am completely freed up. I get to make all the creative choices. The lawyers don't get to tell me what I can and can't do. I can talk about sex in a respectful, entertaining way and not have lawyers telling me what I'm not doing right. There is literally nothing I can't cover. It's a curse and a blessing to have so many things out there I'd like to talk about!
You also bring out your Trump impression on the first show. I assume we'll hear more of your many voices as the show goes on?
I want to work in as many impressions and voices as I can. Because the format is different, it has to be done more in sketch form than it would be in the old days where I got on the phone and talk to [Kevin and Bean] as a character. It will have to be produced. Although I could easily talk to myself — I could be the straight man and the character on the phone. Actually, I think I'm going to do that.
There are no limits on this show.
In addition to Kimmel, you have several other stars poised to appear on the show, including Seth MacFarlane, Dave Grohl, Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet and Chris Harrison.
I feel like I'm in the scene at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, where James Stewart [as George Bailey] is thinking his life over, and then everybody starts showing up at his house and coming to his aid. That's what it's been like. Not only have the listeners been unbelievably supportive and supporting me with their subscriptions and memberships on Patreon, but my friends have really stepped up. I have dozens of friends and people saying, "I'm on your side." It's remarkable.
Would you ever invite Kevin or Bean on to make an appearance?
I don't know how they feel about me these days. I haven't heard the show since I left. By all accounts, they pretty much don't talk about when I was there anymore. They're leaving that in the past. I don't know if it's something they'd be interested in. Never say never, but right now I'm doing my own thing.
Do you keep in touch with them?
Not really. I've traded texts with Kevin a little and I've talked to others, like Chip [board operator Danielle Lehman] and Omar [Khan, the show's DJ], a little bit. It's a really awkward situation when you're the guy who got let go and they are still working there and they have a lot of listeners who have hurt feelings and are reaching out via Twitter and expressing their displeasure [about Garman's departure].
Listeners frequently note on social media how much your absence is felt now on Kevin & Bean [Garman left the show when his contract wasn't renewed].
I don't feel like I lost my job because I wasn't bringing value to the show; I don't think that was the case. I can only assume they have to find their feet and move forward and find ways to reinvent themselves, just like I am with The Ralph Report and being the solo guy now. It's like being in the band when you leave and go solo; it takes a while to find your footing.
Where do you see terrestrial radio in 10, 20 years?
I don't know. I'm actually concerned. The audience share isn't what it used to be. A lot of people are turning toward other sources to get music, like Spotify and Pandora and other streaming services. It's not what it was, and the ratings are reflecting that. The pie everyone is fighting over is becoming smaller. I think more and more, we're moving toward a place in entertainment that is sort of boutique; people will be buying everything a la carte. It's the same thing network television is going through, struggling to find an audience, when there are so many different choices and outlets these days. It's hard to compete in a world where anything is on demand; it's hard to [create] appointment viewing.