By the Way

Brian Kilmeade on 20 years of ‘Fox and Friends’ and who will win Sunday

Brian Kilmeade’s “Kilmeade and Friends” radio show can be streamed online daily.
Brian Kilmeade’s “Kilmeade and Friends” radio show can be streamed online daily. Courtesy

It has become a mainstay among morning TV programs, giving brands such as “Today” and “GMA” a run for their advertising money and audience.

“Fox and Friends,” the morning news-talk show on the Fox News cable network, is turning 20 this year and co-host Brian Kilmeade, along with Steve Doocy, has been there since the show’s inception.

Kilmeade, who got his start in America's classrooms as a correspondent for Channel One News, is also the host of “Kilmeade and Friends” from 8-11 a.m. on Fox News Radio. The popular radio show has added an additional 30 stations thus far in 2017. It can be streamed live online at Radio.FoxNews.

“Kilmeade and Friends” is a mix of the day’s news, as well as interviews with guests from the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics.

Channel One News was a bit after my time — we pretty much only had morning announcements. But my wife is an educator and she sees it as a classroom necessity. Are you still fond of the work you did there?

For me, it was unbelievable. I was in my 20s and my producers were all from the “Today” show. I got all of these packages I wouldn’t have gotten for another 10 years if I was producing myself. They would book the interviews, I would do the interviews and do my stand up and I had something that was ready for MTV or the national news because it was so high quality. I sent my tape in as soon as it came out. I did a series of interviews with Michael Jordan. I remember Anderson Cooper was there at the time — a lot people started there. It was a huge part of my development.

Your radio show is doing really well and is adding more stations. Do you attribute the growth to having a conservative president in office?

I can argue both sides of that question. I didn’t get up every day and think, “What did Barack Obama do wrong today?” and I don’t get up and think, “What is Donald Trump doing right?” I’m just calling balls and strikes and I have an opportunity to bring out how I feel about an issue. That’s what people have told me that they like about the show, that it’s not predictable. It’s not “every Republican is a genius and Democrat isn’t.” That’s why I’m able to do a show where I’m able to give my opinion, but the people listening want to learn stuff. I do not spend my whole show telling you what I think. It’s about what just happened. We’re opening the phones and we’re doing it on Facebook Live. I don’t want to come off like I know everything. I don’t know everything — I want to be approachable.

Trump is going to do things that make Republicans mad and Democrats mad he’s blurring the lines. To answer your question, I think Donald Trump will help but I also think the way that I approach the show helps.

I think people tend to think of talk radio as a couple of guys sitting around a mic smoking and chatting. But in this day and age, there are podcasts and lot of ways to reach an audience. You mentioned Facebook Live and you also use Twitter for your show. Does the accessibility to the world make it more fun for you?

That’s a great question. Fox doesn’t own radio stations, so no radio station has to use me. Until we got the dozens of stations and started to get the momentum, the way we reached people was online. People were able to stream us live. Since we can’t strong arm every major market in the country because we don’t have a major syndicator demanding it, we have to earn our way on and we have to spread ourselves across every medium available. We have to survive — so let’s fan ourselves out as much as possible and not live or die by the antenna.

You are celebrating 20 years of “Fox and Friends” this year. Did you see the show lasting this long and becoming so popular?

People say, “You’ve been at the same job for 20 years.” I say, “Really?” The show and the channel have changed so much that I feel like I have been on nine different shows between the different studios we’ve been in and the different people that have been producing and the way the channel has gone. When I used to tell people I was on Fox News, they had no idea what that was. But as it gained momentum, everyone started to come to us after a major event happened and it grew and it got better. It’s always changing. We’re about to move into a new studio in March.

Sure, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, but most of all I look back at covering 20 years of new events. It’s such a privilege to bring news to the people around the country. It’s an honor and privilege to give them their information. Then you meet people and you feel you’re a part of your family because Fox News lets you be you — for better or for worse — the whole sense of having a conversation with people, I never could have done this at any other place. It’s been a long 20 years, but it been a short 20 years.

You covered sports for a while. I spent a few year covering sports — Alabama football…

I hear they are pretty good.

... do you miss covering sports?

Sometimes, I do. But I miss stories, I don’t miss games. When Tiger Woods comes back and wins a major, I want to be there. I want to get that interview.

I don’t have the relationships that I once had. I don’t know everyone in the locker room anymore and I miss having the relationships. But if you asked me if I had to make a choice, it would kill me to have to cover the Yankees knowing we were going into Iraq.

News is always going to be first choice. I was en route to a sports career but the news kept drawing me back.

Having said that, are you taking Matt Ryan and the Falcons or Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl?

Even though the Patriots are the favorites, I really believe this is a very special Atlanta team. They’re playing on turf indoors and they’ve had two weeks to prepare. I really think this is Atlanta’s Super Bowl. I think New England has to play above their game to win the game for the first time since they played in their first Super Bowl.