Mercury Confidential: Which Beck staffer found their job while searching Craig's List?

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Mercury Radio Arts? Just how do all of Glenn’s crazy ideas get done? Does anyone ever get a chance to sleep? Well, over the next few months we are going to take you inside MRA, giving you the inside scoop on everything from publishing to special events, the Marketplace to 1791 and GBTV. We will be interviewing members of our New York, Columbus, and Dallas staff, bringing you all the info, so you can know what it’s really like to work for Glenn. Other installments: Kevin Balfe

 

Liz Julis, Vice President/Special Events for GBTV, remembers the first time she met Glenn Beck like it was yesterday.

“He might kill me for telling this story,” Julis said with a laugh. “I don’t have a lot of Glenn stories, but there is one that has always stuck with me that happened during my interview.”

Julis, who joined Mercury in February 2006 as an editor of Fusion magazine, was among the company’s first dozen employees. After happening upon a posting on Craig’s List for what was ultimately a job at Mercury, Julis traveled to New York City for her first interview.

“The write up for the job was nondescript. It was really vague and it was something like ‘If you are interested in getting into the magazine industry blah, blah, blah.’ I don’t even remember. I thought I was going to be working in a mail room or something – maybe not that extreme, but I had no idea,” she recalled.

(To this day there is an ongoing joke around the office as to why anyone would apply for a job they found on Craig’s List – but that’s another story.)

After getting through her first interview with Chris Balfe, Mercury’s Chief Operating Officer, and Kevin Balfe, Senior Vice President/Publishing, she was called back for a second interview, which involved sitting down with Glenn himself. “I came up and interviewed – there were two interviews – one was in a really nice conference room with Chris and Kevin Balfe, and the second one was in this really makeshift office that was kind of sleazy and a little scary with Chris and Kevin and then eventually Glenn.”

“When I first met Glenn, we were sitting in the interview and he was asking me some typical interview questions,” she recalled. “I had no idea what I was in for or anything really about him other than what was on his website.”

The office, which Julis described as “grungy and gross,” had a Dutch door at its entrance. “Both parts of the door were open, but something happened and the bottom door, as Glenn was walking out, began to shut,” Julis explained.

“As Glenn was trying to exit the room, he walked into the bottom door and almost falls over the top of the door. And then somehow the door latched. He was trying to make this very nice, professional exit, and he can’t get out of the office!”

“I was trying not to laugh. I was so buttoned up and nervous, but in my head I am like ‘Oh my God, this guy can’t get out of office. What is going on?’”

As usual, Glenn laughed off the mishap and went on his way. Julis, obviously, got the job and all was well. “But to this day,” she laughed, “I still think about that experience all the time.”

Julis said she is grateful for the experience because it reminds her that at the end of the day Glenn is human. “When I see fans so enamored by Glenn who is this big star, and he is, and he has worked so hard to get there, all I can think about nine times out of ten is that this is the man who got stuck in the office after my interview. He is a real person.”

It is this realness that makes Glenn so easy to work for and has pushed Julis to take advantage of every opportunity that has come her way. Like most people at Mercury, her jobs over the years have been remarkably different than what she ever thought she would be doing.

“When I got out of college I freelanced doing some accessory design for different groups just off and on, and then I was a nanny. I went to school for fashion design, and midway through I realized that it wasn’t for me. But I wanted to just finish up school and get out because I was already in my sophomore or junior year, and I didn’t want to have to start all over again.”

For Julis, who also logged a brief stint as a goat farmer in the Italian countryside, taking a job as an editor of a fledgling magazine at a start-up company in New York City was unfamiliar territory.

“I don’t think managing editor was my title right away, but I don’t really remember. I mean the duties of the job didn’t really change much. In the beginning, Kevin [Balfe] was really great about letting me explore on my own, but also training me. So for the first few months I worked side by side with him, and then probably after about a year I was on my own, checking in with him on a pretty regular basis.”

After a few years, as Mercury continued to grow, Julis took over as managing editor of Fusion. She remained managing editor until August 2011 at which point Fusion transitioned to The Blaze magazine.

While her memories of the magazine are predominantly fond, there was at least one instance she remembers feeling unwanted pressure. “The only time I ever cursed the magazine was during Restoring Honor,” she said laughing. “I am sitting there editing the September, July, August, whatever it was the week of the event or right before, and I was like ‘Are you serious? I don’t care. I don’t care about if this period is in the wrong spot.’ I was so sleep deprived.”

Few people outside of Mercury realize just how big a role Julis played in orchestrating the 2010 Restoring Honor Rally in Washington D.C. and the 2011 Restoring Courage events in Israel. She oversaw the production and logistics of both events. In other words, the events probably wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without her, though Julis is far too modest to admit it.

“It really had to do with Joe Kerry (former Mercury chief of staff and current president of Mercury One),” Julis said in regards to how she got involved with the Restoring Honor Rally. Kerry, who oversaw the fundraising aspect of the event, approached Julis in late 2009 to see if she was interested in being involved.

“I could tell that Joe had a lot on his plate, and I told him to let me know if he ever needed any help, not knowing that would mean I would handle the logistics and production and he would handle the fundraising, which is eventually how we divided it up,” she said. “It was a slow development. I think from November to December or January we didn’t really talk about it that much. And then in January, he comes in my office, and says something like, ‘Ok we are going to announce the event. What is the marketing strategy?’”

“And that was how I got roped in,” Julis said sarcastically. “No one else really wanted the job because it was so unknown and everyone was really busy. I was excited to try it, not knowing that it was going to be this mammoth event and not knowing that Glenn was going to get so excited and talk about it all the time. I thought it was just going to be this smaller thing. Whoops!”

When Julis stepped in, a production company had already been hired and the event’s vision was pretty well developed. “That made the startup process relatively quick,” she said. Outside of the production, Julis coordinated the logistics of the event. “Logistics had to deal with security, marketing, volunteer coordination, working with the interns to make sure they were on top of their jobs, and then staff housing and travel.”

“I was kind of the liaison between all the different crews because we had a lot of different crews. It was interesting working with all the different groups, and it was fun because it was different personalities. It was interesting to see a team come together because a lot of people had not met each other until the week of or two weeks before the event.”

Part of what made Restoring Honor so incredible was the history it made. “No one had really done an event like that on the mall,” Julis said. “It was nice to see people getting excited. I got to work on things that I had never done before. It was fun taking something from nothing and turning it into an event. Regardless of the size, it’s just nice birthing something like that. I definitely learned about myself.”

Because of Restoring Honor’s success, Julis became the go-to person for “special events.” She oversaw the planning and logistics of Glenn’s America’s First Christmas events in Wilmington, Ohio in December 2010, before being called on yet again to work on Restoring Courage.

“It started with Glenn,” she said. “He had an idea and he called us all in and said, ‘I want to go to Israel.’ And he automatically turned to me and said, ‘You’re going to do it.’”

Julis wasn’t so sure. “I mean I was excited for the challenge, but I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen. Not from a production standpoint, but I honestly didn’t think Glenn would get approved to go over there. I mean I remember the first few months everyone was on the fence over whether or not we should do this.”

Finally, with just three months to go, Julis got her answer – the events were a go.

“The end of May comes, still no decision. And then finally, I forget who made the decision, but we decided to move forward. At that point you have three months to do something in another country,” she recalled.

“So I quickly gathered the team, and I was fortunate to have a really great executive producer, Tzvi Small. He was amazing – couldn’t have done it without him. And it came together very fast. That project was very last minute in terms of concept. I mean even day of still adding and changing the show. So that was very last minute.”

As with most things at Mercury, Restoring Courage happened fast – really fast. Fortunately, Restoring Honor, though very different, provided a good foundation upon which to build. “It happened fast, but the interesting thing was that I had learned so much from Restoring Honor,” Julis said.

“I had an odd sense of calm, and I don’t know why,” she said. “I don’t know why because I shouldn’t have. But I did. I think I just really trusted the people I was working with. We just had a really good rapport. And I felt like everything was going to be okay. There was a lot of goodness surrounding that project.”

Her new role, as special events coordinator for GBTV, seems to strike the right balance – playing to Julis’s organizational and managerial strengths, while still providing a new challenge.

“I guess it was October/November (2011) that Chris [Balfe] and I started talking about a new role, and it was to start doing special events for GBTV, specifically to help market the network and get awareness out.”

For Julis, this new role meant the return of some stability and normalcy to her life. “I was excited because I was looking forward to having my life back. These projects are a lot of fun, but they are very draining and time consuming. And I wanted to work on projects like that, but also work towards other goals. I thought the special events and promotions would lend itself well to the next phase of this special events job. Its similar concepts and skill sets being utilized, but on smaller scales and in different ways.”

Up next for Julis is the planning and creating of a GBTV fan experience at the Restoring Love event at Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium on Saturday, July 28, which she promises will be a lot of fun. “I don’t want to give anything away, but it will be outside the stadium. GBTV will be doing a pre-show and have a broadcast presence. Everything will be available on GBTV. You can watch the entire show there.”

It looks like Julis is continuing to make the most of what comes her way, which is probably for the best seeing as history shows Glenn’s ideas just keep getting bigger and you never know what his next idea might entail - a rally on the moon perhaps? I wouldn’t rule it out.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.