Today on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter finished up his exclusive interview with radio and television host Glenn Beck. The pair discussed what is next for Beck’s company Mercury Radio Arts and the future of news and talk radio. Beck also told Stelter that he named his company after Orson Welles and models it after Walt Disney because those are the two people who have influenced him over the years.
A full transcript of the interview is available after the jump.
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STELTER: We’re sitting here in Mercury Studios. This is a 72,000 square foot facility in — right outside Dallas.
What is all this space for?
BECK: That’s what my business partners asked me when we bought it.
STELTER: I mean this is a — a nice office, but not too big. You’ve got a studio for your show, another studio for other shows.
But what’s all the rest of it for?
BECK: My focus is on culture and I believe that — we’re working on a few projects that are mainstream television that are — are — are rooted in history, so to speak.
STELTER: Scripted projects?
BECK: Scripted. Scripted. And we’re working on — we’re working on those. We’re working on a movie. Actually, we have a couple of them that we’re actually working on. One is farther in the pipeline than the other and so…
STELTER: When might we see the first Glenn Beck feature film?
BECK: I don’t know. Maybe — I don’t know. I hate to speculate. Maybe — my hope is 2015, but I don’t know. It would be our first, so I don’t know how long.
STELTER: And for scripted television, as well.
BECK: I hope 2015.
STELTER: You’ve been running “TheBlaze,” your — your cable channel, here for a while now. Originally, “TheBlaze” started online. It was a subscription only service. You had, I think, 300,000 subscribers in the first year, which means you were making a lot more than you could have made at Fox News.
How many subscribers do you have now on — online?
BECK: You’d have to ask the accountants. I have no idea.
STELTER: Ah, you’re looking off screen. No.
Are — are you holding up pretty well?
BECK: Oh, yes, yes, yes.
STELTER: Because you then decided to get, uh, distribute it on cable…
STELTER: — and on cable and satellite.
STELTER: And people then wondered, well, maybe — maybe you feel you’re not reaching enough people online.
BECK: Well, I think there’s a difference between, you know, a million people online and 70 million households, you know. My goal is to hit as many touch points as we possibly can. And I don’t know what’s going to happen.
STELTER: Radio, TV, live events, everything else?
BECK: Everything. Everything.
STELTER: It seems like you’re having a hard time getting onto cable, though. A lot of smaller providers have picked up the channel. A lot of bigger ones haven’t. Comcast hasn’t. DirecTV hasn’t.
What are they — what kind of feedback are you getting when you try to get onto those systems?
BECK: I’d — I’d probably let our attorneys handle that one.
BECK: Some are — some are not as, um, as…
STELTER: One of the distribution executives, one of these big companies, said to me the reason why we’re reluctant to pick up “TheBlaze” is because what happens if — and forgive me for this — what happens if that gets hit by a bus?
They’re basically saying there’s no other must see TV on the channel.
But you’ve been adding a lot of other programming.
STELTER: I guess that’s the point, is that you don’t want it to just be your channel.
BECK: That’s why we changed it from GBTV. I was against GBTV at the very beginning…
BECK: — and wanted it to be “TheBlaze.” And it’s not about me. And they won’t be saying that in — in — for very long, if that’s your objection. But I’ve heard all kinds of objections. So we’ll see.
STELTER: Is some of it political?
BECK: I — I think some of it — some of it is political, but…
STELTER: But they would deny it, of course?
BECK: Of course they would.
STELTER: And you’ve opposed the Comcast-Time Warner cable merger.
Why is that?
BECK: I’m actually — I’m really torn on this, because I am not a — I’m libertarian and, you know, whatever you want to do, you do.
However, this is already a regulated business. And so I’m actually for deregulation of this, because nobody can go out and start their own cable company without the government being involved.
BECK: And a — and so because it’s deregulated, making something bigger, we — we would still have the old rotary phone if it was just AT&T, you know. And these companies are getting so massive that they have almost total control of a portal.
You know, when I left Fox, I — my thought was can a man still have an idea and a dream and go up against the titans and still make it?
So far, the answer is, yes. But if you can’t crack the cable code without having the big, you know, some big corporation behind you…
BECK: — the answer is no. And I think that’s a problem in America.
STELTER: Before we go, crystal ball with me, where is talk radio going to be in 10 years?
Is it a valuable medium?
BECK: You know what, everybody said that in 1992. It constantly evolves. Talk radio, on the AM band, I don’t know about the AM band. In Europe, they just dropped the AM band from the cars in Europe. So I don’t know what happens to that.
But there is a hunger, a real hunger for talk radio, whether it’s left or right. And there always will be. Look at — look at podcasts.
What are podcasts?
BECK: That’s talk radio.
STELTER: What about Fox News?
What about CNN?
You have them both on here in your office.
BECK: I think that — I think that they’re all going to change. I think — I think television itself is going to change dramatically and…
STELTER: And become more like a Blaze style…
BECK: I don’t know yet. I mean we’re still a divining rod ourselves. I — I don’t know. But it will be — it will be more personal. It will be more human. It will be more authentic. It will not be led by a panel of experts from, you know, this club or that club.
It will be much closer to the user.
STELTER: And Glenn Beck, who will he be in 10 years?
BECK: I hope a much better man.
STELTER: Still doing this?
Still hosting television shows, stage shows…
BECK: Yes, always…
STELTER: — writing books?
BECK: — always being a — always telling a story, always trying to find the story of the day and telling it in a — in the most effective way.
STELTER: Glenn, thanks for your time.
BECK: Thank you.
STELTER: Now after we finished talking in his office there, Beck gave me a tour of his headquarters. And I had to ask him one more question — about the media magnate that he’s modeling his company after. It’s not Rush Limbaugh, it’s not even Oprah Winfrey… take a look at who it is.
STELTER Didn’t you give all of your staffers a copy of a Disney biography last year?
STELTER What was the reason for that?
BECK The company was named after Orson Welles, and the two people who have really influenced me are Orson Welles and Walt Disney. And I gave it to them because I wanted them to see where I was headed, and I’m not headed towards Edward R. Murrow, I’m headed towards Walt Disney.
STELTER Does that mean theme parks, or something different?
BECK No, I don’t forsee-
STELTER People always associate Disney with that, when it’s a lot more-
BECK: Yeah no Disney was an innovator on everything, we went to space because of Walt Disney, you know, Walt Disney brought his animator that did the seven dwarfs and said “I’ve got this Nazi scientist that I need you to meet, Wernher von Braun, and the year is 1954 or 55 and he said, “He thinks we can put a man in space. I want you to tell that story” and in 1955 just before he opens the park, he does, and he starts his TV show, Disneyland, he has a special called Man in Space. The story goes that Eisenhower calls him up and goes, “Walt, you son of a bitch, you did it. I’ve been trying to convince the guys at the Pentagon we can do it. I don’t need them. You just convinced the American people.”
BECK: And so Disney, a world without Walt Disney, America without Walt Disney, not just the parks, is a very different place. A very different place. He affected our culture in a positive way.
STELTER: Is there a reason why you talk not about Rush Limbaugh or other figures like that but about Disney instead? Is it an attempt to mainstream your brand?
BECK: No, I’ve always been a fan of Walt Disney ever since I was a kid. I studied Walt Disney, I always wanted to be Walt Disney.
STELTER: Maybe separate from Disney, isn’t there some effort to try to identify not as a conservative that some people might think is polarizing, has said stupid things in the past, instead as a figure that anybody of any political persuasion might buy jeans from?
BECK: No. Here let me put it this way. I’m a conservative, I haven’t changed any of my beliefs, I believe what I believe. Always have always will. I may change if I, you know, find a pivot point, but I am who I am.
STELTER But to get carry-age in a hundred million homes, don’t you have to broaden out?
BECK: Let me tell you something. I don’t think anybody really truly understands this. I don’t really care. You know what really gives somebody real power? That twitchy eye. Somebody who says, “I don’t care. I’ll lose it all. I’ll start all over again. I don’t care, I’m not in it for money, I’m not in it for fame. I don’t care. Once you really say that and really believe it, you’re not afraid of anything.