Bobby Bones — the new “American Idol” mentor who hosts the biggest country music morning radio show in America, iHeartMedia’s “The Bobby Bones Show” — is known for the occasional controversy, whether he’s getting in Twitter feuds or launching a negative billboard campaign against himself. So it was no surprise when he caused a small stir with a comment he made to Rolling Stone in 2016.
“I’m the best interviewer in the whole format,” he told the magazine. “Except for Howard Stern, I’d put myself against anybody. Because I ask human questions.”
Bones, who also helms the popular “BobbyCast” podcast, in which he interviews Nashville music stars, producers, songwriters and executives, later said he “got in trouble” for the statement. But in his new motivational book, “Fail Until You Don’t,” he explained why he compared himself to the legendary radio host — and how it ties into his motivation strategy.
“At times, I will make huge public statements, knowing full well they are not true (yet),” Bones wrote, mentioning the Stern quote. “. . . Now, let’s be honest for a second. I don’t actually think so highly of myself. (Not to mention the fact that there’s a serious leap in logic here, since I haven’t listened to every interviewer who has ever been on the radio.) But I put it out there. In a national magazine.
“If I put a statement about being the best interviewer into the universe, I must now live up to it, or at least be held accountable for it,” Bones continued. “Either way, I’m going to work that much harder. Every freaking interview that I now conduct, I hear these words screaming at me: ‘Don’t suck, because you said you don’t.’ ”
In a phone interview, Bones elaborated on how he got into “trouble” after the Rolling Stone story: “People reacted very negatively toward me for saying that,” he said. “There were quite a few email chains. . . . I got a bit of pushback from certain sects of the industry.”
However, Bones has no regrets. In his mind, Stern is the best radio interviewer, and he feels as if the comparison — even a hyperbolic one — will only make him work harder. “I’m glad I said it. I love that article,” Bones said. “It made me hold myself to a higher standard.”
Throughout the book, Bones offers strategies to deal with fear and failure; his mantra and the book’s subtitle is “Fight. Grind. Repeat.” He gets candid about how he became a success story after a difficult upbringing in rural Arkansas. And even though he has his radio show, podcast, the “American Idol” mentor gig, a band and a sold-out stand-up comedy tour, he’s also open about how he still has insecurities in his career.
For example, he’s been trying for years to produce or star in a TV show and has had projects that were very close to getting picked up — but, ultimately, networks passed.
“[Television] is the great white whale. That’s the one I’ve been chasing for 15 years,” Bones said. But now he has some network TV credibility after appearing on “American Idol” this past spring: “Not to jinx it, but it’s all starting to pay off a bit. I credit a lot of that to just not giving up.”
It’s a frequent theme in the book. “By turning negatives into positives, losing into a journey to winning, I have been able to overcome the odds that were against me into motivation for my success,” he wrote. “It’s that mentality I hope to pass on in this book to others who are struggling.”