It is believed that the radio is becoming an outdated form of technology. Decades ago, radio was the primary source of news and entertainment for the average American. However, the television quickly surpassed it. While it may be true that most people get their information (and relaxation) by turning on the TV or browsing the internet, there are still a number of people who get very rich while broadcasting over the airwaves.
The average salary of a radio disc jockey or talk show host is about $40,000 per year. Obviously, this may not be the best media outlet to go into if one wants to become filthy rich. However, this number takes into account both the new radio personality and the long-time jocks. Experienced jocks in major cities can earn about $80,000 to $100,000. Then there are the top notch hosts. These guys host nationally syndicated programs. Syndication is the term used to describe the act of recording a show and then broadcasting it on a number of radio stations throughout the country. The more radio stations that sign up to broadcast the show, the more money that host is going to make.
This list discusses the richest and highest earning radio show hosts in the world. The requirements to be considered for the list are simple. First, the person must have started their media career in radio. Secondly, the person must currently have a radio program on air. This can be on FM, AM, or XM radio.
10. Tom Joyner – Net Worth: $30 million
Tom Joyner is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Tom Joyner Show. Growing up, he dreamed of becoming a musician. His parents convinced him that career path would never make him enough money. After graduating from college, he moved to Montgomery, Alabama to begin a career as a radio DJ. It was about this time when his former college band mate, Lionel Richie, rose to fame. Joyner spent the next couple of years moving from station to station throughout the Midwest and southern United States and eventually earned himself the nicknames “The Fly Jock” and “The Hardest Working Man in Radio”. In 1994, he signed a contract with ABC to create The Tom Joyner Show. The show features Joyner as the host and R&B disc jockey, along with a group of comedians who occupy roles in the sports and news departments. The show is now syndicated by Joyner’s company REACH Media Inc. Joyner is worth an estimated $30 million.
T7. Don Imus – Net Worth: $35 million
The long-time shock jock, Don Imus, is worth an estimated $35 million. Imus began his radio career in Palmdale, California in 1968. He started the Imus in the Morning in the Evening radio show in 1973. Due to his controversial style, Imus was forced to move from station to station very often because eventually his on-air pranks would become too much for the station to handle. He kept getting new jobs because his radio show always brought in high ratings. At one point, he actually worked on the same station that Howard Stern worked for. By this point, the show dropped the last part of the name because it became specially a morning show. The two shock jocks began a long-running rivalry while working together. In 1993, Imus in the Morning became a nationally syndicated program.
T7. Michael Medved – Net Worth: $35 million
Michael Medved is the host of the nationally syndicated The Michael Medved Show. He is famous for his political commentaries and discussing his opinions about various media outlets and how they affect society. Medved has held a number of jobs working on campaigns for various politicians. He is highly educated and entered his undergraduate studies at Yale at the age of 16. After graduating, he was admitted in Yale’s law school. After years of working with politicians, Medved started his show in 1996. His show is broadcast on over 200 different stations throughout the United States and receives an average of 4.75 million listens weekly. He is worth an estimated $35 million.
T7. Steve Merchant – Net Worth: $35 million
Steve Merchant is the final radio personality on this list to be worth about $35 million. He began his career in broadcasting while studying at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Merchant was a film reviewer for his college’s radio station. After graduation, he began working as a radio DJ while trying to make a career as a standup comedian. In 1997, he was hired by Ricky Gervais to be his personal assistant. Eventually Merchant became the co-host of The Ricky Gervais Show. In 2002, the two took a break from their radio program to write and film their own TV show, The Office. The next year, they were back on radio and their new TV show was posting great ratings. The Ricky Gervais Show went off the air in 2005. Steve Merchant then started his own radio program, The Steve Show, which is one of the top programs on BBC radio.
6. Dave Ramsey – Net Worth: $ 55 million
Dave Ramsey is one of the most listened to radio hosts when it comes to the topic of money. Following his college graduation, Ramsey started Ramsey Investment Inc. which became one of the top real estate companies in the United States. He then became a co-host of the radio show The Money Game. That show eventually became The Dave Ramsey Show which is syndicated on over 500 radio stations throughout the United States. He is worth an estimated $55 million.
5. Harry Shearer – Net Worth: $65 million
There really aren’t too many things Harry Shearer has not done. He began his career in the media as a childhood actor, appearing in things like The Jack Benny Program and Abbott and Costello Go To Mars. In 1969, he became a member of The Credibility Gap, a comical radio program made up of a number of comedians. In 1979, Shearer was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live and in 1984, he co-wrote and co-starred in the movie This is Spinal Tap. He left Saturday Night Live in 1985, to focus on his radio show which had been running for the past two years. This program was Le Show. In 1989, Shearer was hired to do voices for characters on The Simpsons. Shearer is still the host of Le Show up to this day. It is one of the longest running comedic radio programs on the airwaves.
4. Anne Sinclair – Net Worth: $200 million
Now we are getting to the big dogs. Anne Sinclair, a European radio and television show host, is worth an estimated $200 million. She is actually an heiress to Paul Rosenberg’s fortune. Rosenberg happens to be her grandfather. Sinclair started her career in radio on one of Europe’s largest radio networks, Europe 1. She is now the host of her own show which appears both on TV and radio and is syndicated throughout the entire continent.
3. Glenn Beck – Net Worth: $250 million
Love him or hate him, Glenn Beck is one of the most successful men in radio. He is the host of The Glenn Beck Radio Show, a conservative political talk show which has been nationally syndicated since 2002. Prior to becoming the highly successful political analyst he is, Beck was a radio disc jockey in Provo, Utah. Aside from his highly successful radio show, Beck was formerly the host of one of FOX NEWS’s most highly rated programs, The Glenn Beck Show, which was taken off television in 2008. Beck is also a six-time best-selling author. He is the founder and CEO of Mercury Radio Arts, which produces content for a number of different media outlets. Beck is worth an estimated $250 million.
2. Rush Limbaugh – Net Worth: $400 million
Rush Limbaugh is sometimes referred to as “The King of Radio.” He began his career in a small town in Pittsburgh after dropping out of Southeast Missouri State University in 1972. In 1984, he was given his own show, The Rush Limbaugh Show. The show was based on Limbaugh’s conservative political views. In 1988, it became nationally syndicated. Today it is the most highly rated show on radio. Limbaugh receives an estimated 15 million listeners every week. He is worth an estimated $400 million.
1. Howard Stern – Net Worth: $550 million
Howard Stern is the world’s most famous shock jock. He recently signed an exclusive deal with Sirius XM radio worth $500 million. This brings his estimated net worth up to about $550 million. The Howard Stern Show was a nationally syndicated program on FM radio from 1986 to 2005. He started his radio career in 1972 as a disc jockey on Boston University’s campus radio station. To date, no one has received more fines from the FCC than Stern.