Bill Maher to Launch Podcast Network; Former ESPN Anchor Sage Steele Is First Host

Bill Maher has been a late night television fixture for decades, and entered the podcast world in March 2022 with Club Random. The podcast, recorded in his bar at home, has surged in popularity over the past two years, so much so that Maher is now able to form his own podcast network, The Club Random Studios network.

Announced Wednesday morning, Maher will run the new podcast network alongside his Club Random podcast co-creators and executive producers Chris Case and Chuck LaBella.

The Real Time host told THR today that he seeks to host podcasts built on the idea of “freedom of expression.”

“I am looking for people who are not talking point people. I’m looking for people who don’t, before they speak, say, ‘what’s the right answer here?’” Maher said.

Historically perceived as liberal, Maher has gained an increasing amount of popularity among folks from the opposite side of the political spectrum in recent years, primarily for his views on vaccines and the Covid-19 pandemic more generally.

Case in point: The first podcast on the network will be hosted by Sage Steele, a former ESPN SportsCenter anchor who left the network in 2023 after settling a free speech lawsuit with Disney. Steele, a conservative, filed the lawsuit alleging retaliation after she had made highly-polarizing comments about vaccine mandates on a podcast hosted by former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler.

“She’s the perfect choice to be our first new host because, like me, she pissed off Disney. There’s a certain poetic symmetry to that,” said Maher.

Steele’s podcast launches today, and new episodes will be released Wednesdays on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and iHeart Radio. Steele told THR her program focus on “conversations, not interviews,” and she’ll host athletes, executives, actors, comedians, politicians and other guests. UFC boss Dana White, comedians Howie Mandel and Adam Carolla, and California Republican Senate candidate Steve Garvey are among the early guests.

Maher launched his Club Random podcast two years ago. It’s essentially an “after dark” version of his Real Time program, which HBO recently extended for an additional two seasons. There are longer, more casual and less-political conversations with guests on Club Random than what you’ll see on Real Time, and Maher is often seen smoking weed.

Maher isn’t the first late-night host to start his own podcast network. Since leaving his TBS show in 2021, Conan O’Brien has been focused primarily on his own podcast network, which Sirius XM acquired in 2022 for $150 million, signing O’Brien himself to a five-year contract. 

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *