AJ Steel knows his politics, and he knows his history, but above all, he knows his Sinatra. “The song My Way?” he says through a smile as we meet in his Hawaii home. “Did you know Frank Sinatra cut that song in one take? How gutsy is that? The man’s signature song, loved by millions, and he lays it down in one take.”
This bold display of character is just the kind of thing Steel respects, and the song itself, My Way, couldn’t be closer to his own anthem. It embodies his ideals, his attitude and his current place in life.
Meet AJ Steel, host of the AJ Steel Show, a podcast that has reached the top of the charts in a staggeringly short time. Although free from the thumb of corporate sponsorship, Steel’s show has achieved a large worldwide following. Case in point, he’s reached #3 in major markets, beating many well known mainstream hosts and programs. His formula? He’s a genuine voice, steeped in life experience and principles he holds sacred. He has known struggle and scarcity in life, but eventually he found and followed a steady arc to success. After making his fortune in real estate and retiring at 45, he took to the microphone and hasn’t stopped. And he’s not just talking to pass the time, peddling in podcast fluff. He’s talking to be heard, and he’s giving a platform to people who matter, from White House whistleblowers, to world famous psychiatrists, economists, theologians, and a host of other notable figures.
So just who is AJ Steel, this new-to-the-scene podcaster who’s shaking up the conservative talk genre? To listen to him, you’ll hear snippets and asides that give hints at his upbringing- immigrant, rock musician, historian, powerful health care figure, investor-but the story in its entirety must be told, as it gives credence to the man behind the mic and makes his message all the more potent.
While still a boy, Steel emigrated to the United States, teaching himself English as he navigated through a new world, living with his family in a decidedly modest trailer park. They had nothing but their gumption and their confidence in the American dream, which was especially the case with his grandmother-a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. “The work ethic was palpable in my family,” says AJ. “We focused on making a life in this country, and that’s just what we did. But we never once forgot that life was meant for living, not just merely for existing.” He emphasizes that he always felt welcomed and supported in America. He was never affected by the so-called racism that today’s left so loudly trumpets, and never gave it a thought until much later, when it became such an ugly and politically charged progressive mantra.
In high school, Steel dove headlong into the kind of “character building” work that today’s teens typically avoid. He washed dishes and changed oil, happy for the opportunity to scratch out a living wage and earn his first steps toward independence. Dreaming of stardom and girls, he formed a rock band that took him around the world. “I enjoyed those days,” he says. “Connecting with an audience felt like making love.” But he admits with a wink that such things can’t last, and while he traded in his leather pants, he wouldn’t trade the memories, it’s a chapter now closed.
Although Steel has outgrown that audacious, on-stage persona, he still craved a human connection, so finally heeding many friends who urged him to do so, he started producing the AJ Steel Show which went global in a short time and is now consistently ranked in the top 40 worldwide. “A strange reversal happened in the past 20 years,” he marvels. “Somehow the radical left became the establishment, and we conservatives became the rebels.” As such, he’s happy to attract listeners who feel left out by the mainstream and who share a world view based on black and white, not the gray illusions of the woke. “Believe me,” he says, “I’ve seen the left. I’ve been the left, and it’s a flawed ideology. I’ve earned my success, and it’s been a result of hard choices, hard work, and values, not victimhood!”
This kind of grounding is why Steel is so happy to do things his own way, answering only to himself and shaping his one-man show as he wants. When asked why he won’t join a major network and gain mass exposure, he’s ready with the numbers. “Who needs them? CNN spent 300 million dollars on a streaming service that got less than 10% of our audience. The New York times’ Twitter account, with 53 million followers, gets less engagement per post than our shadow-banned account. Our message is real, our listeners are real, and I get to slay real dragons every day while the corporate shills get to kiss up to their bosses. I’m not in the soul selling business, especially not mine.”
“I’m not owned by anyone” is more than a rallying cry for Steel, it’s the essence of what defines him. Proudly controversial, Steel doesn’t harbor concerns about whether his listeners like him or even hate him, because his mission is to “tell it like it is.” Ironically, he adds “Our listeners are split almost evenly between good people who agree with me, and folks who absolutely loath me.” Interestingly, his numerous critics and detractors on the left (and even from the establishment right) can’t discredit him, mainly because he came up the hard way and needs no defense for his unyielding positions. His life speaks for itself.
Steel’s podcast is described as a show about “politics, money, sex, and everything in between.” This theme gives him a wide berth in how he chooses and presents his guests, but he aims for quality, depth, and fireworks with each one. He’s interviewed luminaries like Juanita Broadderick, Breitbart editor Allum Bokhari, and civil rights leader Ward Connerly, while never once wavering from his foundational mission to remind Americans to stay strong and never surrender the elemental freedoms and liberties that make America unique. This conviction comes through in his interviews and the general themes he covers.
Steel frequently tees up topics designed to expose and undermine the false narrative of mainstream media “All the things lefties accuse conservatives of being-racists, bigots, sexists-are the exact antithesis of what they are and in many ways mirror the twisted soul of their own progressive mindset.” When it comes to racism, Steel stands on example as an immigrant himself, and tolerates it in no form, to include racism against whites, seemingly the newest, most common kind. “People are on edge, ready to be offended over topics of race, and that’s not conducive to an honest conversation.” He believes we must break the tip-toey cycle of ending conversations when people take offense. “Conservatives must speak out on their own terms and without fear in their hearts. This country is far too important, and the stakes are way too high to do anything else.”
Above all else, Steel who lives in San Francisco, enjoys family life and strives to impart his values to his children. “They’re all pretty much grown,” he says. “But I’m hoping they carry on the attitude and traditions I’ve tried to live by. Follow the rules until the rules stop making sense. Always strive for more, but never forget the simple things in life, and most important; don’t ever stop asking questions and never stop growing.”
Whether AJ Steel is loved or hated for the stands he’s taken and the message he promotes, he can certainly say he’s doing it his way.
Listen and subscribe on all the major networks: The AJ Steel Show