Doug and Ryan Stewart a.k.a. The 2 Live Stews revolutionized sports talk radio and television. The blood and fraternity brothers brought barbershop talk to an industry that before them was largely conservative and boring. With consistently high ratings, two syndication deals, regular ESPN appearances and hardcore fans across the country, the world was their oyster…and then it all fell apart.
Sports media is littered with individuals who have been suspended or fired for a litany of dumb and often illegal stuff. Many of them found other jobs after the news cycle moved on the to the next scandal (see Sean Salisbury, Marv Albert, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, etc.), but very rarely have successful sports reporters or talking heads had rousing success and disappeared from traditional media the way Ryan and Doug Stewart have.
After dominating ratings in their time slot at Atlanta’s now defunct WQXI (790 The Zone), new management came in and attempted to water down the Stews proven format with restrictions and additional hosts—it didn’t work. Then they were moved to a new time slot, which further messed up their flow. The Stews were never fired, when their contract ended in 2012, it was just never renewed.
“I remember we were in Vegas playing golf with JT the brick, who somehow we got real cool with. He used to tell us all the time, ‘If you guys ever get off, you need to figure out a way to keep your name out there, period.’ says Doug.
Smart money said that the Stews would have a new job in no time at a different station, but nearly five years later, the Stews have yet to sign a long-term deal to return to terrestrial or satellite radio.
Were they too black for the good ol’ boy network that is sports media or was their run a moment in time? “I don’t know if we’ve been blackballed, we call it whiteballed,” says an always animated Ryan Stewart. “For us not to really get a solid gig by now like everyone else has, two or three times over, of course I’m gonna say we’ve been whiteballed, but when it comes to why, I truly have no idea. I don’t understand why.”
Doug concurs with his younger brother’s take. “There’s no legit reason, based on our numbers and success we’ve had over a decade why we shouldn’t have had a job within a couple of months. I know there’s a lot of politics that play into it, but I stopped worrying about it a couple years ago. It’s been four and a half years, close to five years, so beating my head against the wall about it at this point is just ridiculous.”
Instead of waiting on the powers that be to put the Stews back on, elder sibling Doug Stewart took matters into his own hands and started The Doug Stewart Show two and a half years ago. The show has essentially the same flavor they had on the radio, but with only one brother.
In addition to his daily show, Doug started the 2 Live Stews Radio network as well. The network boasts 10 shows, many of which are hosted by loyal Stews listeners who caught the radio bug. “Most of all these guys listened to 2 Live Stews back in the day and it sparked an interest doing radio, says Doug. “We’ve given them a platform and they’re pretty good, they get better every day and each show has its own unique flavor.”
The Doug Stewart show has garnered consistent support, but it pales in comparison to the success that Doug and Ryan had on traditional radio. The Stewart brothers believe that as podcasting continues to grow, more of their former listeners will become aware of their new machine and get on board.
One thing many Stews fans had been asking for since Doug returned was a show with he and Ryan on the microphone. That wish was granted earlier this month when Ryan began his weekly show. Although dubbed The Ryan Stewart Show, the program largely features Doug chiming in regularly as he mans the boards.
The question is, what took Ryan so long to rejoin the family business. “I just thought it was time to get back to doing something. Outside of daddy duty [Ryan and his wife have two boys and one infant girl] and the mentorship stuff I’ve been doing for the past almost 5 years now,” he says. “I’ve missed it tremendously. I can’t start to tell you how much I’ve missed it. I get excited about this hour just like I get excited about those 4 hours back in the day, so it’s been fun and I think there’s about to be some good stuff that comes along with it.”
With both brothers on board promoting the network and providing content, conventional wisdom would say that the hundreds of thousands of dogs and poodles (the Stews nickname for their men and women supporters) who listened and called in Monday through Friday for more than a decade would begin streaming and downloading their new shows immediately. Only time will tell if the Stews can capture lightning in a bottle again, but they believe they have the vehicle to do so.
Sports Fans looking for authentic and entertaining sports talk can tune in to The Doug Stewart show, weekdays from 10am-1pm ET at 2livestewradio.com or thedougstewartshow.com. The Ryan Stewart Show can be heard on Thursday’s at 1pm ET on 2livestewradio.com as well. The show is also available via multiple podcast apps.