The headline news on most outlets this morning was that Hillary Clinton had clinched the Democratic presidential nomination. On RatedRed.com, the new digital channel from Verizon Hearst Media Partners targeting millennials in America’s red states, the lead item was “No Political Ad is Complete Without This,” highlighting a new campaign video by Missouri gubernatorial candidate (and retired Navy SEAL) Eric Greitens in which he blows stuff up with a high-powered rifle.
With video titles like “Guess What’s New with the AK-47?” and “Losers Ruin Trump Rally with Violence,” RatedRed has enough firepower to seriously offend the sensibilities of your average Bernie Sanders-loving NPR listener. But RatedRed executive producer and on-camera talent Richard Ryan insists it isn’t trying to be divisive.
“You find that confrontational people generally look for the opposing side of the issue to put themselves into a debate or an argument with you, but there’s more of a common thread that binds us together than there is something that separates us, and that’s ultimately what we’re focusing on,” Ryan told VideoInk. “We’re not putting ourselves in a debate to say, ‘Hey, we’re different from you’ or ‘This is our side of an argument.’”
A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ryan returned to his home state to join the RatedRed team in Nashville earlier this year after more than a decade in Los Angeles. He is best-known for his YouTube channels FullMag (1.8M subscribers, 216M views) and Tech Assassin (45K subscribers, 1.7M views), featuring everything from slow motion shots of technology being taken out with all manner of high-powered firearms, from a .50 caliber rifle to a 20mm anti-tank gun, to Ryan jumping out of airplanes and hot air balloons.
Ryan has also been active behind the scenes, launching a software company that has produced mobile apps for fellow YouTube stars such as Ray William Johnson, consulting with studios, ad agencies and brands on analytics, marketing and creative strategies, working with YouTube and Google on new technology initiatives including the recent 360°player launch, and even establishing his own coffee brand, the Black Rifle Coffee Company, in partnership with Evan Hafer.
“I work 18-hour days, and I love it,” Ryan said. “I can’t ever tell you what I’m going to be doing next week. If I’m not 110% enjoying what I’m doing, I step out of it because I feel like the marketplace doesn’t have room right now for people who aren’t driven like that.”
Ryan’s current schedule is relatively light these days. Before his YouTube career took off, he would work at a construction job from 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., go home and take a shower, then work a 4:30 to 10 p.m. shift as a bartender at Liberty Grill next to the Staples Centers in Downtown L.A.
“During that time, I saved up money and bought computers, started my software company,” Ryan recalled. “On the weekend, I worked for two different companies. They subcontracted me out as a demolition company and as a landscaping company, so I had those businesses going on top of it. Then I would find time to do YouTube stuff. Slow motion cameras are extremely expensive. They cost about $5,000 a day to rent with a technician and everything, so I could only afford to do one shoot every few months. So I’d bank shoot a bunch of videos at a time. During this time, I also started managing an apartment complex, so I could save on rent.”
After those experiences, Ryan says that signing up to be part of RatedRed — where his videos have included “Weird Ways to Get Arrested in the Heartland” and “Say Hello to Ruger’s All-American Gun” — was a no-brainer for him.
“When we started talking about the goals of the company, I was like, ‘Yes, as a consumer, I want that 110%. I want that yesterday. I want to be a part of it. Tell me how,’” Ryan said. “I worked six jobs so I could vent creatively, and I did it and I enjoyed it. So I’m waiting for the day that the carpet is pulled out from underneath me and I have to go back and do that.”