Inspired by TV One’s Unsung series, this multi-part MSR series shines a well-deserved spotlight on individual or group accomplishments that unfortunately have been overlooked, or perhaps even “forgotten.” This week the spotlight is on radio talk host Doug Stewart.
ESPN’s excellent 30 for 30 series recently premiered a film on two loudmouth sports radio talk hosts. But why not also chronicle the meteoric rise to the unfortunate “Forgotten” status of “2 Live Stews”?
Siblings Doug and Ryan Stewart in the early 2000s premiered on Atlanta radio — “sports talk with hot sauce” was their tagline. The two quickly rose to the top of the ratings and got picked up in a national syndication deal. That’s when this columnist heard them.
The Stewarts won 2004 “Best Air Talent of the Year.” ESPN later signed them to a show.
The Stews, despite their on-air success as a duo, have been off the air since 2012. We recently called Doug Stewart at his home in Georgia to find out why. “When I look back at it, a lot of things happened…that led to our demise,” Stewart pondered out loud.
Ryan was a former NFL player; Doug played at South Carolina State before going into business. “We were big sports fans. I never envisioned having the opportunity to do something like that.”
Ryan, who was doing college football analyst work, went to the station program director with the idea of the two doing regular “hip hop sports talk, a barbershop-style sports talk” program tailored to their regular back-and-forth while watching sports together in their respective basements, recalled Doug.
“We started out one night a week, then two nights a week, then a couple of weeks went by and [we asked] if we could do five nights a week,” he pointed out. “We got an opportunity for a daytime slot… The next thing we knew, we got the number-one show in the city for a couple of years. It happened real fast.
“We wanted to talk sports, but we wanted to do it in the exact way we did it in the privacy of our home or the barbershop,” noted Doug. Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” was their opening show theme, and hip hop songs were regular bumper music.
“We said from the very beginning we were going to do it our way,” continued Stewart. “We called it barbershop talk. We weren’t going to take ourselves seriously. It worked, and people related to it, and people loved it. It was just a great ride.”
But what ultimately got them off the air? He pointed to an ownership change but he said that a contributing factor might have been the brothers’ unwavering support of then-NFL star quarterback Michael Vick, who was subsequently charged, convicted and served time for being involved in dog fighting.
“We never supported Mike Vick fighting dogs,” explained Doug. “But what we did say was we thought the punishment that he received by going to jail for two years was too severe.”
The question still exists: Why isn’t “2 Live Stews” still in sports radio?
“It is very disheartening,” said Doug, who now produces his own sports podcasts. Ryan does occasional guest hosting on Atlanta radio.
“We were shown the door for a lot of reasons. I didn’t worry at all. I knew we would have radio stations knocking down our doors on what we had done with documented numbers.
“I’m OK,” Doug concluded. “I got kids in college, and I’ve been blessed financially. I’m alright, but it’s been over four years.”
Check Doug Stewart’s podcasts at TheDougStewartShow.com.
Read the latest Racial and Gender Report Card on MSR News Online.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.