Mike Huckabee Talks TV, Radio Career, Mulls Political Future

Former Arkansas governor and rising media personality Mike Huckabee is contemplating his future, including the return on investment of his year-old syndicated radio show.

“Within the next month, I’ll decide if I want to continue it or not. I know we will, but it’s just such an incredibly intensive process that I really have to decide that I want to spend that kind of time…,” he said.

“I’ve got to always weigh how much time I’m putting in it and what the return is. How long it will take to make it what I call hopefully disgustingly profitable. That’s what one always hopes for in a deal like this.”

Huckabee’s resume is familiar, especially to his fellow Arkies: two-term Arkansas governor, 2008 Republican presidential nominee and current radio and TV personality with a syndicated daily radio show, a weekly Fox television gig, several published books and some Web projects.

Huckabee talked last week with Arkansas Business about his media presence.

“The Mike Huckabee Show” is a weekday, three-hour radio show. The show is syndicated through Cumulus Media of Atlanta. It airs nationally on about 225 stations, including 10 in Arkansas.

The live show can require up to 10-hour workdays, Huckabee said. A typical day starts at 4:30 a.m., with show prep happening from then until he goes on the air at 11 a.m., with possible breaks for reading local newspapers while on an exercise bike or for taking his dogs on walks on the beach.

The show is broadcast from Huckabee’s home in Florida, where he has a radio studio that doubles as his “man cave,” he said.

“I love doing the show. I love the ability that it affords me to connect to people right then and there. You know, radio is so immediate. It’s one thing that I’ve always loved about radio,” Huckabee said. “If something starts happening, you immediately not only can start talking about it, but listeners can begin calling, being a part of any discussion within seconds after a breaking news story.”

Huckabee began picking up radio experience in about 1968 as a teenager in his hometown of Hope (Hempstead County), where KXAR-AM, 1490, is now among the Arkansas stations that air “The Mike Huckabee Show,” according to Mark Keith, KXAR spokesman. The station dropped fiery right-wing talker Rush Limbaugh in favor of Huckabee’s show live.

“The show, I think, evoked a lot of interest in our radio station,” Keith said. “I think there was an enormous amount of folks wanting Mike Huckabee as opposed to Rush Limbaugh. Mike Huckabee has a nice, lower-key approach. When Mike Huckabee came, we heard good comments. He’s a hometown boy. He’s well liked.”

(What are Huckabee's plans for 2016? See Mike Huckabee for President — Again?)

Other Work

Huckabee broadcasts “The Mike Huckabee Show” live from New York when he’s in that city on Fridays getting ready for filming his Fox TV show, “Huckabee.”

He also appears on “The Huckabee Report,” 15 one- or three-minute audio commentaries from him each week. The news and political commentaries air on 600 radio stations.

Huckabee began “The Huckabee Report” in January 2009. Cumulus also syndicates “The Huckabee Report,” and it was when renewing Huckabee’s contract for that short-form radio work 18 months ago that Cumulus asked him to consider doing the longer daily show.

On weekends, Huckabee tapes “Huckabee,” the hour-long Fox News Channel TV show, after staying in touch with the Fox staff all week concerning the content of the upcoming segment.

The Fox cable show is broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays. Huckabee has worked on the show for Fox since 2008.

Huckabee declined to discuss revenue figures for any of his media ventures, calling the information “proprietary” per his agreements with Cumulus and Fox.

His book of letters to his grandchildren, “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett,” is slated to come out in paperback this fall, and he is currently developing a new book project.

Besides the broadcasting work and the books, Huckabee also writes content for MikeHuckabee.com and a recent new endeavor, GodFruits.com.

GodFruits.com isn’t at all political and he does it “just because I enjoy it,” Huckabee said. The free website and email newsletter are “spiritual” and offer encouragement, he said. The site launched in September.

“It’s an outlet for real ministry,” he said. “I find that a lot of people who are very discouraged … some of them spend too much living and eating and sleeping politics. … There’s a spiritual dimension to your life. Don’t limit yourself to earthly kingdoms.”

‘It’s Good for the Party’

Pursuing public office again isn’t out of the question, but politics have also prepared him well for his current career, Huckabee said.

“Most people who are in the world of political commentary, they have observed it. They may have studied it. They may be very knowledgeable about it, but they’ve never actually been on the field and gotten dirty in their uniform. They’ve never played a single moment of smash-mouth football,” Huckabee said.

Many listeners his shows attract “have the perspective that I’m not just a predictable toady for the Republican Party, because sometimes I think the party has completely missed it,” he said. “I think they’ve maybe taken a position that’s too ideological, that’s completely impractical. And so that gives me, I think, a unique perspective to talk about it from the perspective of what it means to govern rather than just campaign.”

Huckabee’s shows benefit the Republican Party, both in Arkansas and nationally, according to party representatives.

“Governor Huckabee has been a strong voice for conservative values dating back to his days in public office,” said Ryan Mahoney, deputy press secretary for the Republican National Committee, in an email. “I think anytime you have a charismatic Republican leader who reaches so many homes and resonates with voters across the political spectrum, it’s good for the party.”

Doyle Webb, chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, called Huckabee “one of the best communicators in the national party and certainly in the state of Arkansas.”

“Gov. Huckabee has the ability to speak and use examples that most people understand and identify with and is therefore a great translator of many of our initiatives and policies,” Webb said. “Both nationally and locally, his programs help communicate who the Republican Party is, what we stand for and what we hope to see America become.”