On Dec. 24, 2009, the first episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” was recorded. Rogan was already well known in many different walks of life: he made a name for himself as one of stand-up comedy’s prominent comics, was a pioneer in introducing the UFC into the mainstream of sports as a color commentator, secured multiple acting roles on TV and eventually hosted NBC’s Fear Factor. But since the release of his breakthrough talk show/podcast, Rogan has catapulted his name onto the podcast scene and stands as the fourth position on Apple Podcasts.
The show ranges from one to three hours and is posted to YouTube and iTunes. More than 1,200 episodes have been recorded, but perhaps the most enticing quality of the show is its wide variety of guests from all different walks of life.
“The diverse viewpoints on the show are definitely part of why I watch it. With certain talk shows and podcasts, the host’s agenda is often clear and obvious, skewing their questions and treatment of the guest,” junior Isaac Wahout said. “Rogan, however, maintains a level-head, even if he doesn’t agree completely with what the guest has to say.”
The diverse viewpoints that Wahout mentions have no barrier. The guests range from politicians on both ends of the spectrum to athletes, from scientists to musicians and from comedians to motivational speakers.
Rogan’s craving to learn sets him apart from other interviewers on the internet today.
“I think the more points of view the better, especially when you’re doing research into something new or having a discussion on a debatable topic,” football and wrestling coach Milan Vuckovich said. “When you surround yourself with too many like-minded people, your views become skewed and you’re not able to grow your knowledge and become a more diverse thinker.
His wide reach allows people to come on his show and really tell him how they’re feeling and why they believe a certain thing, and allow that person’s voice to be heard. In a world where media about politics and serious issues can be incredibly biased and agenda driven, Rogan is a breath of fresh air for anyone looking for multiple opinions on a given topic.
“He had a lot of opinions that I agreed with, but also a ton of insights that were really interesting,” senior Sam Verdico said. “The people on his show are just individuals you wouldn’t hear from on other shows or podcasts. You have people that have been to jail, people who travel the world, tour concerts, just people you won’t come across in everyday life.”
One of these guests is a mycologist, a professor of fungi and mushrooms, Paul Stamets on episode #1035. Despite having no interest in them initially, I left the two hour and 15 minute podcast fascinated and intrigued with mushrooms and roots of all sorts. Rogan has an ability to discuss topics he has no idea about, finding the connections to what he does know rather than asking loaded questions for a predetermined purpose.
According to Vuckovich, talking to a diverse group of different people has aided him immensely.
“Having that exposure has absolutely been vital in me [personally] becoming a well rounded individual that can connect with all types of people,” he said.
We as viewers often learn about the topic at hand as Rogan does, so he asks the questions that the viewers are wondering. The childlike wonder is so evident in his episodes that the show acts as more of a recorded conversation than an interview. The show has the power to introduce new perspectives on topics into the minds of viewers, whether they be as theoretical as the afterlife or as simple as relationship troubles.
“When I first started listening, I usually gravitated towards the scientists. However, I’ve found that there’s a lot to learn from the comedians and athletes as well,” Wahout said. “You can learn about recent discoveries in science from books or magazines, but the anecdotes of a disgraced comedian or a military general provide a unique viewpoint that is almost impossible to get elsewhere.”
Rogan’s viewership is sure to go up in the near future, as recently rapper Kanye West has tweeted that he and Rogan had a discussion on mental illness and the episode will release shortly. This was prompted by West’s earlier tweet which called out the modern news media for being scared to talk to him about the topic, to which Rogan responded, “I would be happy to talk to you about it for as long as you’d like.”
Overall, Rogan represents a bright spot in a state of media that’s heavily diluted with agenda-driven content. His show promotes the importance of learning new perspectives and truly encompassing all different walks of life.
“[Rogan] once had a falsely convicted felon on his show who’d gone to three different prisons, and I loved hearing from a perspective I’d never heard before,” Verdico said. “You’d never see that on ‘Conan’ or ‘Jimmy Fallon’. That’s the appeal.”