On Feb. 23, 2009 — five days after he was canned by CBS Radio — comedian Adam Carolla started a free daily podcast on his personal website.
Just two years later, Guinness World Records named the Adam Carolla Show the “most downloaded podcast” ever, with close to 60 million downloads.
“I think it’s a combination of terrestrial radio not being what it used to be and listeners wanting something a little more out of the experience,” says Carolla, 48, of his podcast’s popularity.
“You don’t need a station or a transmitter anymore. You don’t need a FCC license or a tower.
“You can literally just get your voice to the audience and its uncut, it’s not getting stepped on by program directors or the folks who buy ads that want to tell you what to say and not to say.
“It’s a very pure way of communicating with people.”
Of course, a free podcast doesn’t pay the bills, but it has proved to be an effective platform for promoting Carolla’s other projects.
For instance, he is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, including his new memoir, Not Taco Bell Material, which details his rise from pauper to prince.
Prior to co-creating TV’s The Man Show and Crank Yankers, and before his big break on the syndicated radio call-in program Loveline, Carolla grew up poor and worked a series of low-paying manual labour jobs, such as carpet cleaning and construction.
That rags to riches story inspires Carolla’s stage show, which is a mix of stand-up comedy, storytelling and motivational speaking.
Carolla says he aims to inspire because he’s convinced there’s an epidemic of entitlement in his country.
“I know it firsthand because my mom was on welfare and I naively asked her once when I was a kid ‘Why don’t you just get a job?’ She said if ‘I get a job, I’ll lose my welfare.’
“Wow, that’s a horrible message to send to your nine-year-old son, but I understood it well,” Carolla says.
“I saw what my mom was turned into because of all the free money, the welfare, the food stamps and the free school lunches.
“It just created someone who slept a little more each day and ironically was a little angrier at the government.”
Carolla performs Friday night at the Burton Cummings Theatre. Tickets are $58.50 and $48 at Ticketmaster. Showtime is 8 p.m.