In closing a huge deal with Clear Channel this week, Ryan Seacrest cements his status as "king of all media," and tells Zap2it what the last few days have been like.
The "American Idol" and E! News, radio personality, reality show producer and host of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011" calls five minutes early, an event that so rarely happens with Hollywood types. (And to my daughter's guidance counselor, whom I hung up on: I am deeply sorry and can't wait to talk about algebra.)
Seacrest happily answers questions, and apologizes for munching an apple while chatting:
Zap2it: Is this the voice of Dunwoody High School made good?
Seacrest: I learned timing cadence and how to enunciate (said very slowly) with the Pledge of Allegiance. That was my first script.
Zap2it: So pretty big day?
Seacrest: For someone who doesn't know how to sing or dance, how do you figure this out? It's been a very interesting last few days. I worked over Thanksgiving to get it done. I am excited about my new responsibilities.
Zap2it: Let's talk about those. What will you be doing?
Seacrest: I will continue to stay on the radio, on the shows I currently host. And with Clear Channel I will program and help the digital initiative that they have a clear mission for. They have 100 million plus people a week. When you think of distribution -- 100 million people a week -- that is the golden goose. So what do you do to evolve it?
Zap2it: Will there be more repurposing of material?
Seacrest: We are taping this right now for a future show.
Zap2it: Cute. What are you looking for in terms of the digital initiative?
Seacrest: The easiest way to answer is anything in the world of entertainment, pop culture, we will be exploring. There is a lot of material that exists within the lulls of a radio show that we don't always get a chance to use, and can be framed in a better way and make it handy for the audience. This will give us a way to repurpose it for new material. For the Z100 show (which airs in the greater NYC area) we use a 50th of what we have access to in a day. A morning show here (he's on KIIS-FM in L.A.) has 70 percent that can go out. This is a way for us to streamline all of the content, and work with them on concert tours and some advertising.
Zap2it: Do you feel like a media mogul?
Seacrest: I don't know what a mogul feels like. I am only 5' 9" and can only bench 160 pounds.
Zap2it: How do you feel today?
Seacrest: I think excited and refreshed and anxious. So much of the last year of a long deal you are thinking about all the opportunities, and you are really examining and looking under the hood of all the different businesses and all of the things you read in those books and try to reevaluate. The last 12 months I was taking a hard look at what I wanted to try to focus on, and this was in my head for a while and it started to come to fruition over the last two or three months and over the last few days, we nailed it own to what everyone could accomplish.
Zap2it: You're on TV constantly, but ultimately is radio your true calling?
Seacrest: I have never had a paying job outside of a radio station or TV business. My first job was driving the station van in Atlanta, whatever minimum wage was back then and I had a time sheet and log to get overtime. And since then I have gone to a radio station every day of my life except for vacations.
Zap2it: Reports have you signing for $60 million. Is that accurate?
Seacrest: I can't comment on money.
Zap2it: I'm almost hesitant to ask, but besides all of these radio and TV shows, are you working on anything else?
Seacrest: The Ryan Seacrest Foundation. We are building TV and radio studios in children's hospitals. My dad, sister and mom are running the charity and we had a very successful launch at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. I was in Philadelphia (The Children's Hospital) yesterday. That's been occupying a lot of time as well. It's empowering and educational. It's something for the kids to look forward to, a diversion for those who have to be there for a while.
Zap2it: Who are your idols, your influences, in or out of the business?
Seacrest: My mother and dad have been married for 40 years and they are still in love and are cool and have a normal life. And I think they are the reason I figured out a little bit along the way. They are the reason I work hard and tuck in my shirt and line up my belt buckle. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Regises and Larry Kings and obviously Dick (Clark) and Merv Griffin, who I worked for.
Zap2it: Clearly you're crazy busy, but do you have any goals that you're working toward?
Seacrest: I sort of dovetailed into that foundation chat. That is a massive priority for me. And I found myself carving out time for that. As I got older I learned you need to go out to a movie and do your best and leave your BlackBerry locked up in your glove compartment.