By Carole Robinson, Staff Writer
Friday the Dave Ramsey Show turns 20 with a public celebration at Financial Peace Plaza on Mallory Lane, from noon to 4 p.m. Ramsey will broadcast theater-style for the benefit of the audience. His team will give away prizes, and from 4–6 p.m., Ramsey will sign commemorative posters by Hatch Show Print. Proceeds from the print will benefit the Ramsey Family Foundation.
Dave Ramsey was in the real estate business when he got his first taste of talking on the radio.
“I was on WTN as a guest a few times on a [real estate] show that went off the air,” he said in a phone interview earlier this week.
When Michael Thomlin’s real estate show went off the air Ramsey and friend Roy Matlock, who dealt with investments, alternated broadcasts Monday through Friday.
At the time WTN was going bankrupt, Ramsey explained.
After the first year, Ramsey and Matlock joined forces and the “Money Game” was created.
“When we went on the air, we sounded like Daryl and his other brother Daryl,” Ramsey said. “We did the show free. As a matter of fact, I have never received a paycheck from WTN.”
Gaylord brought the station out of bankruptcy and the show was syndicated but it was several years before Ramsey was earning money from his show. Fortunately he had many other irons in the fire.
For several years the duo provided their own unique financial advise to area listeners before Matlock left the show but Ramsey stayed on the air.
Although today tears on the phone are not unusual, Ramsey recalled the first time a person called the show crying. She was going through a foreclosure.
“It was unbelievable that someone would be that transparent on the radio waves,” he said. “We started the conversation crying and ended with solutions. That was a ‘Wow’ moment.”
It was then he realized, “This is people’s lives – their hope.”
One of the most touching calls came recently from a soldier’s wife in San Antonio who had just received the dreaded knock at the door. Her husband had been killed in Afghanistan and she had no idea where to turn.
“We were all crying,” he said. “This call took the casual [idea of the war] off the news and made it real. We’ve got lots of resources she can take advantage and we were able to put lots of support around her. It was really sad, but it was memorable.”
Much of Ramsey’s sage advice comes from personal experience. At 22, the University of Tennessee Business School graduate was in the real estate business.
At 26 he was a millionaire with $4 million dollars worth of real estate assets on the books – he now calls that debt. By 30 he was eating beans and rice.
When the financial crash of the 1980s hit, the bottom fell out of the market and out of Ramsey’s life – or so he thought. The banks called his notes and within short time he went from millionaire to broke. He lost everything including his own home, was forced to file bankruptcy and his marriage to wife Sharon was on very rocky ground.
“I knew hurt,” he said. Ramsey learned stuff wasn’t really important; he learned debt is not good; he learned following his faith must be part of the plan and he worked from that point.
Making smarter financial decisions, working with a patient and equally hard-working wife and eating a lot of beans and rice Ramsey rebuilt his life and then began teaching others what not to do.
In a church ministry, he used his own experiences as lessons to others. That ministry moved to the airwaves and 20 years later, The Dave Ramsey Show is a faith-based syndicated show heard across the country and Dave Ramsey is changing lives, but it hasn’t been easy.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this hard,” he said. “It’s been a dogfight and we are still scratching and crawling. Business is a hard thing. When I was younger I just thought I if I would go out and just did it, it would work. It’s not that easy.”
Ramsey credits the “wonderful team members” who worked with him during the past 20 years and the Nashville area market where he got his start.
“I’m like the turtle on the fence,” he said. “You wonder how he got there.”
Having already changed his family tree, Ramsey continues to look to the future.
During the next 20 years he will build a sustainable family legacy for generations of Ramseys. People will always have financial problems so two years ago Dave Ramsey started raising up other “message bearers” to carry on the message he preaches daily. An idea man, he will continue to grow the company in ways that already include the addition of a Spanish brand.
He is also bringing his own family into the fold to help develop the family legacy. Two of his the three Ramsey children (now all young adults) and their husbands have joined the Ramsey team at Financial Peace Plaza and are earning their stripes “to be good stewards of the plan” and message bearers. Number three is still in school.
With the heart of a teacher Ramsey’s desire is to help those who want to be helped.
“It’s tremendously satisfying to be doing work that impacts people,” Ramsey said. “It’s pretty cool we get to participate in people’s lives.”
Posted on: 9/26/2012