In 2013, radio personality Bobby Bones left Austin for Nashville, abandoning the pop music format of his syndicated show for country in the transition. In the years since he decamped to Music City he’s grown into a national powerhouse.
According to a new profile by the Ringer, he is currently heard on more than 100 stations nationwide, reaching over 3 million daily listeners. He works for the iHeartMedia conglomerate, where, the article asserts, “his own popularity is trumped only by that of Ryan Seacrest.”
Bones hosted and performed with his band, Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots, at the iHeartCountry Music Festival back in May. Here are a few things we learned about him from the profile.
He grew up in a mobile home in rural Arkansas.
“To me, being poor was easy,” Bones says. “I was good at being poor.” On days when his mother couldn’t afford to buy food for him, he would bring “fake meals” to school: “brown bags with nothing in them to look like I had something to eat.”
David Letterman was an early inspiration:
At 8 years old, upon discovering David Letterman, he’d stay up late watching Late Night or go to his local library and watch clips of the late-night host’s early gig as a wisecracking weatherman in Indiana. Letterman showed him that oddballs like him could parlay their talents into being revered. He realized, “Wow! People who are awkward can make it too.”
His confessional persona evolved organically:
“It wasn’t any brilliant idea,” Bones says of the decision that would catapult him to national acclaim. “I just thought, ‘I don’t want to suck forever. And if I’m going to suck I want to suck being me.’ The only thing you own is yourself,” he adds. “The only way I was going to be distinguishable from other people is to just be me. Good or bad. Ugly or pretty.”
He once launched an ad campaign against himself:
One incident he’s not ashamed of is the time he launched a negative PR campaign against himself. Sensing his show was floundering, he spent almost $13,000 of his own money and put up billboards in highly trafficked areas of Nashville for three weeks that read, “GO AWAY BOBBY BONES.” Not until his memoir was released last year did he reveal the stunt was his own doing.
He pees sitting down:
On a recent morning’s broadcast of his show, Bones casually told Amy Brown, his best friend and eye-rolling foil, and Lunchbox Chappell, a goofy man-child of a sidekick, that he sits down to urinate in order to avoid dribble. “Now I don’t change underwear twice a day!” Bones declared.