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How Rich Eisen and Suzy Shuster Built Their Media Empire at the Intersection of Sports and Culture (Exclusive)

The couple, who have been married since 2003, now host their own shows on the Cumulus Podcast Network

<p>Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic</p> Suzy Shuster and Rich Eisen attend the 11th Annual NFL Honors at YouTube Theater on February 10, 2022 in Inglewood, California

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Suzy Shuster and Rich Eisen attend the 11th Annual NFL Honors at YouTube Theater on February 10, 2022 in Inglewood, California

In Dec. of 2019, sports commentator Rich Eisen was getting ready to meet his wife, Suzy Shuster, and their children at the airport when he got a call that would change his life.

At the time, Eisen, 54, had been hosting his show, The Rich Eisen Show, on DirecTV's Audience Network after becoming a household name at ESPN and NFL Network.

"I was at LAX airport, and I got a call from DirecTV to say that Audience Network was being shut down," Eisen tells PEOPLE.

"They offered to transfer the radio affiliates to me," he says, but Eisen didn't have "the business background" or know where to start. "But I knew I didn't want it to end this way," he says.

Having grown up dreaming of being a late-night talk show host, "I was beginning to realize that dream wasn't going to happen on network television. I needed to create my own little world."

He continues, "I wasn't willing to have it end this way. So, I took a deep breath and formed a production company."

Related: NFL Network's Rich Eisen and Wife Suzy Shuster's Sports Podcast is 'A Dream Come True'

Four years and a global pandemic later, Eisen's show has become a pillar at the intersection of sports and entertainment and is now distributed on Roku and YouTube.

"I had to learn to be an entrepreneur," says Eisen, who credits much of his success to his wife, Shuster. The couple married in 2003 and have three children: two boys, Xander and Cooper, ages 15 and 12, and a daughter, Taylor, 12.

<p>Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic</p> Suzy Shuster and Rich Eisen attend the premiere of "Draft Day" at Regency Bruin Theatre on April 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Suzy Shuster and Rich Eisen attend the premiere of "Draft Day" at Regency Bruin Theatre on April 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California

The "special sauce" to Eisen's show is "just enough antagonism" and "that Rich doesn't take himself too seriously," says Shuster, whose resume includes time as a producer on Real Sports and a sideline reporter for ABC College Football and NBA on TNT.

"If you're on TV, you're either talented or lucky or both, and I think what makes Rich special is he's exactly who you see on camera, off camera," says Shuster.

She adds, "I think that they bring in a really diverse group of people, from the Larry Davids and the Matt Damons down to character actors."

The Rich Eisen Show has hosted A-listers from all pockets of the entertainment industry, including Bryan Cranston, Tracy Morgan and Jason Derulo. "Rich is a pop culture fiend," says Shuster.

"I always tell people who want to come on, it's okay if you don't know anything about sports," says Eisen, who ultimately says his passion is in "having meaningful conversations" with the people he admires.

<p>The Rich Eisen Show (via <a href="https://twitter.com/richeisenshow/status/1023290857229758466" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Twitter</a>)</p> Rich Eisen poses with actor Henry Cavill on The Rich Eisen Show

The Rich Eisen Show (via Twitter)

Rich Eisen poses with actor Henry Cavill on The Rich Eisen Show

"I just wanted to do something other than the traditional role of a sports host," Eisen says. "I loved having conversations as opposed to delivering highlights," he explains, referring to his earlier work at ESPN, where he and Shuster first met.

Shuster "is the greatest life partner anyone could have," he gushes — she appears on The Rich Eisen Show as an occasional co-host and recently launched her own podcast, What the Football, with Amy Trask, former owner of the Oakland Raiders.

Shuster, who says she first fell in love with sports "in utero" as a Boston native, calls her new show "a big girl conversation about football" that won't "alienate anybody" with "jargon words" or usual commentary for clicks.

"We're talking about football the way we would talk about it with our friends," says Shuster, who formerly hosted Eyes on Sports with Suzy Shuster and Rich Eisen with her husband.

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Authenticity keeps The Rich Eisen Show at the top, whether utilized behind the scenes (Eisen's employees at the show have stuck with the host through its various distributors) or in front of the camera when Eisen interviews his celebrity guests.

Eisen says he's "very, very lucky" to be in the position he's in now. "I own this show, we are partners with a major platform, Roku, and the power of that platform is so significant. We built our own control room, and everything I've promised would happen here has come true."

"It's insanely rewarding — it really is."

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