Ryan Seacrest on CNN’s Reliable Sources hosted by Brian Stelter
Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, hosted by Brian Stelter and airing on Sundays, 11 a.m. to noon ET, Ryan Seacrest, multimedia producer, host of “American Idol”, and venture capital investor, spoke with Brian about running a multimedia empire.
A transcript and videos are available after the jump.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. One block down, five to go. I’m Brian Stelter.
From “American Idol” to American Top 40, the Ryan Seacrest media empire knows no bounds. Tens of millions of people believe he’s a reliable source. So, I wanted to ask him about his career, where it’s been, where it’s going and what’s been most rewarding about it.
And, I’ve got to tell you, getting on his calendar takes a long time. But we found time on Friday in Los Angeles, as he prepared to host the annual jingle ball concert there.
So, this is Ryan Seacrest.
STELTER: Ryan, thanks for joining us.
SEACREST: Good to be here, in the basement.
STELTER: I hear screams outside, where are we?
SEACREST: They’re cheering for you, your fans have arrived. We’re actually at the Staple Center in downtown Los Angeles.
STELTER: And this is your dressing room?
SEACREST: This is my dressing room. Isn’t it opulent?
SEACREST: We are putting on an annual holiday show, where we take the biggest acts, the biggest pop artist of the year, put them all on one stage and celebrate the year that was pop music.
STELTER: And, you know, that points out that radio is a big part of your career?
STELTER: You’ve been part of Clear Channel, this is for Kiss-FM.
SEACREST: Yes. This is something that I have done every day of my life. I have gone to a radio station since I was 15 years old. And so, it occupies the first half of my day, every single weekday and we have since, when I started in radio, it was just radio.
But we have since launched digital, iHeartRadio, and the iHeartRadio Music Festival, and the iHeartRadio Music Festival previews. And so, it’s become more than just radio. It’s now — as is everything, it’s media.
STELTER: It’s almost like we need a new word for it.
SEACREST: Yes, right?
STELTER: Radio is a small word for what it all is.
SEACREST: I used to come dressed in a hat and not shave at all for radio. And now, I just haven’t shaved.
STELTER: You mentioned that first half of the day is radio. That makes me wonder about your schedule. Everybody always wants to know how you juggle everything.
SEACREST: I don’t go out for lunch. I don’t think I have been out to lunch in five years. And actually I joke about it. But I find that the second half of my day is very, very efficient. I don’t like a lot of down time. I’m pretty good at going from one thing to another. But, you know, once I finish the radio broadcast, I’m up at the production office setting at my desk, having some sort of salad out of a plastic container.
And then the day depends. It depends on what we’ve got to do. I mean, last week we had a series of meetings with the staff.
Some days I’ve got “American Idol”, it’s live. Some days, I’ve got to travel for the auditions. Other days, I’ve got to travel for the Olympics for NBC. It just depends on the day.
STELTER: Yes, there’s deals with — let’s see — ABC, FOX, and NBC, and Clear Channel.
STELTER: You know, how do you try to keep all of those companies happy?
SEACREST: Well, usually when you’re on the air, you try and say the right company name. And that’s the first step. You want — when you’re on ABC for New Year’s Eve, you want to say ABC not FOX.
STELTER: I’ll try to remember CNN in my job.
SEACREST: When I’m on FOX, I want to remember FOX. The mics (ph) can help sometimes, if you get lost.
You know, honestly, I have said to all of my partners when I signed on with each of them, that I will work 110 percent for you. I will work just as hard for you as if I only have one job and I treat them all that way.
And I really do. I really believe that every single one of those partnerships is equally as important.
STELTER: You must be pretty bullish about the future of TV, to have so many relationships in the TV business.
SEACREST: Yes, it’s fun because when I first moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t know one person in the TV business. Not one single person.
I knew one guy who let me drive the radio station van, he gave me the keys to the van to drive around and give out bumper stickers. But, truly, I didn’t know one person in the television business when I moved here.
STELTER: Well, now, I felt like you’re as much a producer as a host, even though people may not realize it. Your company is producing so many different shows. Do you feel like more of a producer than a host at this point?
SEACREST: I think I’m used to wearing so many different hats, you know, being conditioned as a kid that did radio and hosted TV when I was, you know, 16, 17, 18, 19, I’m used to running around doing different things.
STELTER: Yes, good point.
SEACREST: But I will say that — you know, the tremendous success of the Kardashians and that franchise has helped us build that company and opened the door to produce other series and other shows.
So, my nights sometimes are with a stack of disks or something on a computer that I’ve got to look, that’s a show that we’re looking at for the next day’s delivery. But I enjoy all of it.
STELTER: And remember, a couple of years ago, people like me were writing about maybe you hosting the today show some day, you’ve got this big deal with NBC, so is that still a possibility?
SEACREST: Look, I mean, as far as I’m concerned, everything is a — I hope everything is a possibility. You know, I like to leave every door open. If it is open, I think that’s up to them to decide.
STELTER: Yes, you’ve been contributing a few pieces.
SEACREST: Yes. I mean, I certainly — I am a type of person that likes to try and leave every door open and say yes to as many things as I can. So, hopefully, you know, if that door is open — sure.
STELTER: Yes. But it is the kind of show that you would enjoy doing?
SEACREST: I like —
STELTER: You have to wonder sometimes if you’re too big for the “Today” show. You’ve got too much going — what I mean is you got so much going on already.
SEACREST: Well, I like live broadcasting and I think that, you know, morning shows have evolved. There’s been a paradigm shift in the style of those shows. You know, the style of show that I watched when I was a kid and you watched when you were a kid is a little bit different than it is now. So, yes, I’m hoping to. If I truly thrive, just like hearing this music here, this concert, I truly thrive off of being on air or on stage in a live environment.
STELTER: That brings up the biggest one of all, “American Idol”.
STELTER: You’ve with it since the beginning. It’s not as big as it used to be, though. I wonder what’s going to change in this coming season?
SEACREST: I’ll tell you, we obviously did not deliver as — the numbers that we wanted to deliver last year. And —
STELTER: Is that because all television is down? Or for specific reasons, you think?
SEACREST: I think it’s a combination — I think it’s a sum of all parts. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose sleep over it. You know, I have been on the show since the beginning, I have hosted every single episode of that show for 13 years.
I want people to watch and I want people who perhaps didn’t watch last season to come back and see their “American Idol” this season because we have put the show back together in a fun way and in a way that I think those who love watching the show, or who have watched, maybe didn’t watch it last year, will be satisfied and happy to see it back.
STELTER: Your “Idol” contract is up at the end of next season, I believe. Will you continue to host after next season?
SEACREST: I hope to host as long as they want me to host. So —
STELTER: It’s the kind of show you can’t imagine being without, I guess?
SEACREST: I guess, I’m so used to it. After doing something for over a decade, it becomes part of your every day life. So, as long as they’re asking me and willing to have me back, I think it’s a good option.
STELTER: What part of your work or what part of your life are you most proud of right now?
SEACREST: I would say cutting out gluten.
STELTER: Does that work for you.
SEACREST: Well, apparently not. But in the last three days, I have tried. It seems to be the thing.
No, seriously, I would say that I get a chance to do a lot of different things, from being on the radio to hosting different TV series and specials. But one of the things that I’m most proud of is the Ryan Seacrest Foundation.
And this is — it’s something that I thought of with my folks, we were talking about how we could give back and I visited a children’s hospital that day and I talked to parents and they’ve told me that their kids — I would talk to them outside the room, I said, what do your kids do? They said they get bored, they run out of things to do. You know, they’re going to be in this bed, we don’t know how long.
So I thought we have got to build something in these hospitals that they can use and play with, and even the kids who can’t come down and call in. So we built little media centers in children’s hospitals, we built six of them so far and we’re going to get to 10 by, well, I guess mid next year. And they really are radio and TV studios for kids to use in the hospitals. And if they can’t get out of a bed, they can call in just like you can call in from your car and listen to a radio station.
STELTER: So, they can be entertained, but they can also learn about broadcasting, it sounds like.
SEACREST: That’s the thing. I’m probably going to be sorry I did this because somebody is going to be up and coming and better than I am and be discovered in one of these studios. But also allows — you know, in each community, we have the colleges used the interns to help run the station. So, you know, everybody’s — hopefully everybody’s winning and it distracts the kids from what they’re going through.
STELTER: All right. Ryan, thanks for joining us.
SEACREST: Thanks, Brian. Great to see you.
STELTER: Got to get a plug for the Web site in here. If you go to our Web site, CNN.com, you can see one of Ryan’s other projects, which got a lot of press this week. It’s a keyboard that attaches to your iPhone.