The Joe Rogan Experience

The Joe Rogan Experience is a podcast hosted by American comedian, presenter, and UFC color commentator Joe Rogan. It launched on December 24, 2009, on YouTube by Rogan and comedian Brian Redban, who was its sole co-host and producer until 2012 when Jamie Vernon, who would eventually take over production, was hired to co-produce.[3][4] By 2015, it was one of the world's most popular podcasts, regularly receiving millions of views per episode,[5] also including a wide array of guests, including business magnate Elon Musk, whistleblower Edward Snowden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. From December 2020 to February 2024, the podcast was exclusively available on Spotify,[6] with highlights uploaded onto the main Joe Rogan Experience YouTube channel. The podcast was originally recorded at Rogan's home in California, before moving to a private studio in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. Production was relocated to Austin, Texas after the podcast was exclusively licensed on Spotify in 2020.

The Joe Rogan Experience
Hosted byJoe Rogan
  • Audio
  • video
Length1–3+ hours[1]
ProductionJoe Rogan (occasional)
Brian Redban (2009–2012)
Young Jamie V (2012–present)
Video formatYouTube
Audio formatSpotify
No. of episodes2132 (as of April 6, 2024)
Original releaseDecember 24, 2009 (December 24, 2009)
ProviderYouTube (2013–present)
Spotify (2020–present)
YouTube information
Years active2013–present
Subscribers16.5 million[2]
Total views3.49 billion[2]
100,000 subscribers
1,000,000 subscribers
10,000,000 subscribers

Last updated: April 18, 2024

Although most episodes feature entertainers, academics, comics, UFC fighters, and other non-political figures, The New York Times described the podcast as an "unlikely political influencer" in the 2020 U.S. presidential election after presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard both saw measurable surges in popularity and fundraising after making guest appearances on the program. Bernie Sanders received Rogan's endorsement after appearing on his show, and the Sanders campaign promoted it through its online channels. The podcast has been described as a "boundary-free arena", a platform for the intellectual dark web, and has featured a diverse ideological mixture of political guests. Rogan has been criticized for hosting far-right guests and has been accused of using racially insensitive language.[7][8][9] He has also been criticized for his views on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, and for hosting a number of guests who expressed views that contradicted medical consensus. Supporters of the podcast have praised Rogan for his advocacy of free speech.[10]

History edit

Origins and launch edit

The podcast originally began in early 2010 when Rogan hired Brian Redban, a self-taught video editor and an employee at a Gateway 2000 computer store in Ohio, to work for him full-time to film, produce, and edit videos for his website.[11][12] Rogan had noticed video work that Redban did for comedian Doug Stanhope and invited him to film him and his group on stand-up comedy tours.[11] Redban accepted and relocated to California in the process, following Rogan with a camera and "recording everything".[11] After several years, Redban noticed that fans were demanding an increasing amount of content from Rogan and for it to be delivered faster. This prompted the two to seek new ways of quickening what was a lengthy editing process to make their website and content more interactive.[13] Coupled with his interest in popular live video streaming services of the time, Redban wanted "to do the same thing I was filming, but live," and set up live streams on from the green room at Rogan's various comedy gigs.[12][13] Redban had no prior experience with audio engineering, so he taught himself how to operate the mixing board and microphone setups through his subsequent podcasts.[13]

Ari Shaffir (pictured) was the podcast's first guest.

After some time on, Rogan suggested the idea of hosting a live video stream with Redban from his home and interacting with fans in a chatroom and on Twitter, with the audio portion released as a downloadable podcast.[12][13][14] Rogan was influenced by the open discussion style from appearing on Opie and Anthony and the live Ustream show that co-host Anthony Cumia did from his basement studio, Live from the Compound.[14] The first episode aired live on December 24, 2009,[15] which initially took the form of a weekly broadcast on Ustream,[16] with the pair "sitting in front of laptops bullshitting".[17] Much of the episode was dead air with the hosts figuring out the equipment.[7] The first episodes of the show featured an animated snowflake effect that was reintroduced on episode No. 674 in 2015 and episode No. 1,000 in 2017.[18][19] The show developed with Rogan having friends as guests and having lengthy conversations with them regarding various subjects; comedian Ari Shaffir was the first guest, who appeared on episode No. 3 on January 6, 2010.[14][20]

Rogan recalled that maintaining a consistent schedule early on was important in jumpstarting the podcast's growth, and it soon grew to two episodes a week.[14] In May 2010, the podcast acquired its first sponsor in a partnership with the sex-toy production company Fleshlight. The company withdrew in mid-2012 when it claimed it had saturated its market.[21][22] By August 2010, the podcast was formally named The Joe Rogan Experience, in an homage to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and aired live several times a week.[23] In May 2011, Rogan secured a deal with SiriusXM, a subscription-based satellite radio service, to have the podcast air on its uncensored talk channel The Virus.[17] That year, Rogan said that the podcast was helping his stand-up comedy as he would take ideas that arose during conversations and develop them into routines.[24]

YouTube era edit

In January 2013, video episodes of the podcast started to be uploaded onto YouTube under the account PowerfulJRE and episodes were regularly achieving viewership in the hundred-thousands to millions.[25] Later in 2013, Redban started to reduce his time as the podcast's sole producer as Rogan had increased the number of podcasts each week, "and it got to the point where [Rogan] wanted to keep on going, six, seven hours" which became too much for him to handle alone. As a result, Jamie Vernon was hired as a second producer, initially to fill in as Redban's assistant, leaving Redban to produce roughly half of subsequent episodes.[26] Vernon soon took over full time and Redban subsequently appeared on the podcast as a guest.[18][27][28]

Originally, the podcast was recorded at Rogan's home in California.[15] From November 24, 2011, some episodes were recorded at the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena, California, also known as the Deathsquad Studios.[29] Beginning on November 27, 2012, the majority of episodes were recorded in a private studio that Rogan acquired in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.[30] The 1,000th episode aired on August 18, 2017, and featured comedians Joey Diaz and Tom Segura as guests.[19]

In April 2020, Rogan began having guests take an antibody test for COVID-19 before recording the podcast during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rogan used a personalized, on-demand service that offers each test for $299.[31]

Spotify era edit

In May 2020, Rogan announced that from September 2020, The Joe Rogan Experience would be available on Spotify in an exclusive licensing deal worth an estimated $200 million.[32][33] Under the terms of the agreement, uploads of full episodes to YouTube continued until December 2020, then the podcast became exclusive to Spotify. Highlight clips are still uploaded to YouTube today. Rogan ensured that the podcast will remain the same format, with Spotify not having any creative control. On the day following Rogan's announcement, Spotify shares increased by seven percent.[34] The move to Spotify coincided with Rogan's relocation from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, and the debut of a new, temporary studio there.[35] The first new episode released on Spotify was no. 1,530 with comedian Duncan Trussell, which lasted for over five hours.[36] On September 8, 2020, Rogan debuted the studio on episode no. 1,533 with guest Adam Curry.[37] (He has subsequently moved to another, more permanent studio in Austin.)

After the podcast became available on Spotify on September 1, people reported on social media that episodes with more controversial or far-right guests, including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, and Chris D'Elia, among others, were missing. Episodes featuring comedian and activist Tommy Chong, comedian Joey Diaz, and Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of Jordan Peterson, were also unavailable.[36] VICE later reported that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended having episode no. 1,509 on the platform, which had Rogan and author and journalist Abigail Shrier discuss topics that some deemed transphobic, causing some Spotify employees to voice their concerns to management. A Spotify spokesperson said the episode was within its content guidelines.[38] Rogan later clarified that the company had said nothing to him about plans to censor or editorialize the podcast, as some employees had suggested. He also pointed to the abundance of song lyrics hosted on Spotify that some would consider offensive.[39]

In October 2020, the production of new episodes was put on hold for a week after Vernon tested positive for COVID-19. Rogan and the rest of the staff tested negative and resumed once they got the all-clear from a doctor.[40]

In episode 1,554, Kanye West clarified his reasons for running for president of the United States in 2020 and how it began in 2015.[41] West was one of Rogan's most anticipated guests after the idea of Kanye coming on the podcast first surfaced in late 2018[42] and a premature confirmation by West in early 2019,[43] ultimately taking close to a year before Kanye finally appeared on the show.

In January 2022, an open letter signed by 270 health care professionals called on Spotify to develop a counter-misinformation content policy.[44] An epidemiologist who signed the letter stated that she viewed Rogan as "a menace to public health", and that his ideas are "fringe", and "not backed in science".[45] The health care professionals especially took issue with an episode that featured Robert W. Malone which were criticized for a comment Rogan made where he stated that he believed that young, healthy people do not need a COVID-19 vaccine.[46][47] It was later reported that the letter gained an additional thousand signatures.[48]

On February 1, 2024, only a month before the murder of Collin Small, alleged perpetrator Sheldon Johnson was featured as a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, wherein he talked about his criminal history and advocated for prison rehabilitation.[49][50]

Variety of platforms edit

In February 2024, Spotify signed Rogan to a new $250 million contract but announced his show would not be exclusive to its service and instead be available to other platforms.[51]

Shortly thereafter, the podcast returned to Apple Podcasts.[52] On February 29, 2024, for the first time in years, a full episode of the podcast, an interview with Katt Williams, was released on YouTube.[53]

Format edit

There are at least four types of episodes, as labeled on YouTube and Spotify. These are the "main" general category (of which there are over 2000 episodes), "JRE MMA Show", "Protect our Parks" and the "Fight Companion" episodes, which are streamed live.[citation needed]

Impact edit

In January 2015, the podcast was listened to by more than 11 million people.[54] By October 2015, it had grown to acquire 16 million downloads a month.[5][55][56] In April 2019, Rogan said that the podcast had 190 million downloads each month.[57]

Starting in 2017 Rogan and friends Bert Kreischer, Tom Segura, and Ari Shaffir participate in an annual "Sober October" tradition,[58] which has influenced some listeners to curb their addictions by partaking in the challenge.[59] In addition to sobriety from drugs and alcohol, the tradition has also encouraged skill learning and daily workout competitions.

Elon Musk's appearance on episode No. 1,169 on September 6, 2018, saw Musk smoke cannabis, which attracted worldwide press attention and was followed by a 9% fall in Tesla stock.[7][60]

In 2023, Cornell University scholars, Adam Szetela and Shiyu Ji, published data in Newsweek showing how The Joe Rogan Experience has impacted the book sales of guests. For example, Graham Hancock's Visionary: The Mysterious Origins of Human Consciousness (The Definitive Edition of Supernatural) experienced a 519% sales increase within one week of his appearance on the podcast. Phil McGraw, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and other authors experienced even bigger sales increases. [61]

2020 U.S. presidential election edit

According to The New York Times, Rogan and The Joe Rogan Experience became an "unlikely political influencer" in the 2020 U.S. presidential election after presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard both saw measurable surges in popularity and fundraising after making guest appearances on the program in 2019, and in 2020, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders saw a surge of press coverage in national news and global media outlets as a result of his campaign using a clip from The Joe Rogan Experience showing Rogan speaking favorably about the candidate and saying on air, "I think I'll probably vote for Bernie."[62]

The podcast was integral to Yang's campaign. In the 30 days before the interview, Yang averaged 62 donations per day; in the 30 days after, they were approximately 2,150.[63][64] Research has credited Yang's appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, in particular Yang's discussions with Rogan about the Universal Basic Income (UBI), as having had a considerable impact on the prominence of UBI in public debates, with a potential impact on the COVID-19 relief bills (which included one-time payments similar to UBI).[65]

A study conducted by Coleman Insights in 2019 with 1,000 monthly podcast listeners aged 18 to 64 revealed that The Joe Rogan Experience ranked the highest in the "unaided awareness" category, double that of any other podcast.[66]

On September 8, 2020, then President Donald Trump tweeted a clip from Rogan's interview with Mike Tyson, in which the boxer says hurting people can be "orgasmic". Later in the day, Trump tweeted a clip in which Rogan jokes, "Biden, to me, is like having a flashlight with a dying battery and going for a long hike in the woods. It is not going to work out. It's not gonna make it."[67] On September 13, UFC fighter Tim Kennedy tweeted that, in Rogan's podcast with him two days earlier, the host had "offered to moderate a debate between [Biden] and [Trump] ... It would be four hours with no live audience. Just the two candidates, cameras, and their vision of how to move this country forward. Who wants this?" The next day, President Trump tweeted in reply, "I do!"[68] This prompted Sunny Hostin of The View to denounce Rogan as "misogynistic, racist [and] homophobic" for allegedly having made insensitive comments at selected times during his history as a podcast host.[69][a]

Criticism and removals edit

The show has engaged with a wide variety of controversial topics.

On June 20, 2019, conspiracy theorist Bob Lazar made an appearance on the show where Rogan frequently discusses the possibility of aliens and extraterrestrial life. This episode was cited as the inspiration for the planned Facebook event and Internet meme known as "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us", created one week later.[71]

In February 2022, journalist Amy Westervelt criticized Rogan's appearances on his podcast for climate change denial, and alleged Rogan was involved in starting false rumors that environmentalists deliberately set wildfires in 2020 in the Western United States.[9]

COVID-19 edit

On April 27, 2021, Rogan made remarks about COVID-19 vaccines,[72][73][74] in particular suggesting that young, healthy people have no need to be vaccinated against the virus.[75] Rogan's view was criticized by Anthony Fauci and White House communication director Kate Bedingfield, as well as by several media outlets.[76][77][78][79] Part of the objection was that there have been notable cases affecting young, healthy people.[72] Rogan acknowledged there was "some legitimate science" behind Fauci's view and emphasized that he himself is not a doctor or "a respected source of information".[80][81]

On October 13, 2021, in conversation with CNN's Sanjay Gupta, Rogan defended taking the ivermectin his physician prescribed him off-label for treating COVID-19.[82] CNN had previously said Rogan was "taking a livestock drug without warning" when the podcast host caught the disease in late August. Rogan accused the news network of lying, and that they labeled the drug a "horse dewormer".[83] Rogan also once again reiterated his view that people should have the autonomy to choose to get vaccinated.[82]

In a December 2021 episode, guest Robert W. Malone compared the U.S. reaction to the pandemic to the rise of Nazi Germany, claiming that a "mass formation psychosis" had developed among its residents. Clips from the interview were taken down by YouTube as violations of its COVID-19 misinformation rules.[84][85] An open letter by 270 U.S. healthcare professionals, scientists and professors called for Spotify to drop the podcast, citing the interview and Rogan's "concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic".[49][86] On January 3, 2022, Congressman Troy Nehls entered a full transcript[87][88] of the interview with Malone into the Congressional Record in order to circumvent what he said was censorship by social media.[87][89]

Later that month, musician Neil Young threatened to pull his music from Spotify if the company did not drop Rogan, saying Rogan was disseminating COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. After the company declined his request, Young's music was removed from Spotify on January 26. Joni Mitchell also removed her music from Spotify in solidarity with Young, as did Bruce Springsteen's guitarist Nils Lofgren.[90][91][92] Singer David Draiman, on the other hand, "applauded" Spotify's decision, saying that "I may not agree with everything Joe Rogan or his guests say, but they're entitled to have the forum to say it".[93] Separately, popular podcaster Brené Brown said on Twitter that she would "not be releasing any podcasts until further notice".[92]

On January 30, Spotify announced that it was working to add a content advisory to all episodes of all podcasts discussing COVID-19, pointing to its own information hub on the topic.[94]

Insensitive language and removed episodes edit

In February 2022, singer India Arie shared a compilation of Rogan saying the racial slur nigger on The Joe Rogan Experience on Instagram.[95] Rogan apologized, calling his past language "regretful and shameful" while also saying that the clips were taken out of context and he only quoted the slur to discuss its use by others.[96][97][98] The footage in question was first published by the political action committee PatriotTakes, an affiliate of the liberal PAC MeidasTouch. This resulted in allegations of a defamation attempt by MeidasTouch, which the founders denied in an interview with Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy, instead attributing the source of the footage to Alex Jones who was a recurring guest on Rogan's show.[99] Rogan described the video compilation as a "political hit job".[100][101][102] A number of UFC fighters, including Israel Adesanya, Terrance McKinney, Michael Chandler, Aljamain Sterling, Frankie Edgar, Darren Till, Marlon Vera, Ben Askren, and Brendan Schaub, defended Rogan.[103]

Spotify refused to carry 42 episodes of the podcast when it acquired the exclusive rights.[104] Spotify says it spoke to Rogan about his "history of using some racially insensitive language", and it says (in an internal memo) that Rogan selected 70 episodes[8] which were removed on February 4, 2022,[104] all of which pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic.[105]

Arie complained about the "Fraction of a penny" royalties Spotify was paying to musicians in comparison with the 100 million USD Rogan had received for his exclusivity agreement with Spotify.[106] Spotify later said in an internal memo it would be committing $100 million to create and promote audio from creators from historically marginalized groups.[8]

Reception edit

The podcast has been described as "an important node of the intellectual dark web",[7] and has featured a diverse ideological mixture of political guests, including Democratic presidential candidates and conservative figures. In a more critical article for National Review, writer Theodore Kupfer wrote that the podcast, hosted by "A weed-smoking DMT-obsessive whose most cherished political cause is the quest to end male circumcision", has become "one of the last bastions for civil discussion in contemporary America".[10]

In August 2010, nine months after its launch, The Joe Rogan Experience entered the list of Top 100 podcasts on iTunes.[23] In February 2014, the podcast won a Stitcher Award for Best Overall Show of 2013.[107] In 2017 and 2018, the podcast was Apple's second-most-downloaded podcast.[7] In January 2019, the podcast won Best Comedy Podcast at the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards.[108][109]

References edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ Also in the podcast with Tim Kennedy, Rogan discussed a premise from his Netflix comedy special Triggered in which he jokes that the women of Keeping Up with the Kardashians had influenced Caitlyn Jenner to become a woman, specifically saying, "Maybe if you live with crazy bitches long enough they fuckin' turn you into one." On TMZ Live on September 16, Jenner labelled Rogan a "homophobic, transphobic ass", and said, "It's not a joke. It's very serious stuff."[70]

Citations edit

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