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Chapter 4. Formats > Build a Great Sports Podcast

Hack 28. Build a Great Sports Podcast

Create a show that brings a unique view on the passion of the sports world to your podcast listeners.

The NBA Finals, the World Series, and the Super Bowl are the three most widely covered sports events on American mass media. But what about the Snocross Worldwide Championship? For that you'll need Sledhead Radio, the podcast dedicated to snowmobiling.

When I launched the first sports podcast in October 2004, there were less than 50 podcasts to speak of worldwide. Now, in addition to The Sports Pod (http://thesportspod.com/), sports junkies worldwide have access to hundreds of sports podcasts on just about every sport known to man. When you consider that only a few years ago, listeners had access to only one or two local sports radio programs, it's no wonder why listeners describe podcasting with a sense of liberation. The geographical nature of sports provides the prime example for how podcasting thumps traditional radio. Great sports podcasts require consistence, quality, content, and distribution, and with the ammo that follows, you will be on your way to All-Star status.

4.10.1. Podcast Your Passion

Sports stirs up the emotions like nothing else, to the point that blatantly biased arguments are celebrated under the guise of "talking smack." Loyalty and passion are of the highest priority, and the experiences of our youth programmatically bind us to our favorite sporting events. Your job is to exploit that passion within yourself. Capture it, organize it, and publish it, for the world to experience along with you.

Gill Alexander is a Washington, D.C. native and radio veteran now living in San Francisco. As a kid, he dreamed of the day when Washington would have a hometown baseball team. When the Washington Nationals were born, Gill's excitement led him to launch The Nationals Play-By-Play podcast, where he podcasts the team's games, play by play, from his living room. "My friends and I always wished we could broadcast the games and tell it like it really is," he says. Podcast your passion, and you'll enjoy the process and increase your chances for success.

4.10.2. Segment Ideas

Here are some ideas for segments that you can use in your show:


This is the most common of segments. Be human, be yourself, and be opinionated.

News and Updates

People mistakenly claim that sportscasting doesn't lend itself to podcasting. Nonsense. In this increasingly global society, transplants are a significant part of your prospective audience, especially if you are focused on events or a team from a specific geographic region. Obviously, the podcasts with news and updates segments are more time sensitive, and they work better in a daily format.


When a new book is released, it's promoted heavily. Watch the new releases in Amazon.com's sports section. Find a subject who would be a good fit for your audience, contact the publishing company, and get the interview. Jesse Knight from Basketball Babble says, "I heard that playground legend Demetrius 'Hook' Mitchell was promoting his new DVD. So, I Googled him, found the production company, and called them up, and two days later I was interviewing Hook on a Skype-Out call."


Count down the best teams or athletes of all time, in your particular genre.


Ask a trivia question, and give away a small Amazon gift certificate for the winner. Ask listeners to post their answers in your Comments section to preserve integrity.

Watchin' You

Some athletes are so fascinating that they deserve their own segments. Pick your athlete, and give an update on him during each show.


Bring on a friend, a blogger, or another podcaster, and debate a hot issue in your genre.


Encourage audio feedback through one of the free voice mail services out there, and through email. For example, the Quick Takes podcast consists of listeners calling in and responding to each other, through a K7 (http://k7.net) voice mail line.

Crystal Ball Player

Let's look into the future. Do you hate listening to TV sportscasters or just wish they would say what they were really thinking? Well, play-by-play podcasting could change the way we take in sporting events. While the podcaster watches games on TV, she podcasts her commentary.

4.10.3. Sports News Resources

Here is a list of key resources for integrating relevant content into your podcasts:

Google Alerts (http://google.com/alerts)

Google Alerts keeps you current on news and web items, as they happen. Just surf to the site, and enter the keywords relevant to your podcast. If you have a weekly podcast, it's best to set up a daily notice for this system so that you are up-to-date when you do your podcast.

For example: The Lakers Podcast with Jesse Knight and Steve Carbone.

Keywords: lakers, kobe nba, "kobe bryant", "phil jackson" lakers, jerry west lakers, "lake show", "magic johnson"…

The advanced search tool makes it simple to produce ideal search scenarios, so you aren't overloaded with stories.

ESPN (http://espn.com/)

If you're in the sports podcast game, chances are you already watch ESPN Sports Center regularly. Keep the TV on ESPN News, or listen to the live 24/7 feed on podcast production day. Most importantly, check ESPN for news stories relevant to your podcast.

Amazon.com New Releases in Sports (http://www.amazon.com/)

If you do interviews, check Amazon's list of new releases in the sports section and see who has released books and videos recently. Contact their publisher and publicist and request interviews.

4.10.4. Directories

You should register your sports podcasts with these directories:

ipodder.org Sports Directory (http://ipodder.org/directory/4/podcasts/categories/sports)

The iPodder directory of sports podcasts.

My Sports Radio Directory (http://mysportsradio.com/)

A directory that is specific to sports podcasts.

Podcast Alley–Sports (http://podcastalley.com/podcast_genres.php?pod_genre_id=2)

Podcast Alley's list of sports podcasts. It's always up-to-date because this is where people vote for their favorite podcast.

4.10.5. Great Sports Podcasts

I had the opportunity to talk with a few sports podcasters about what makes their podcasts great. Triathlete's Garage.

Brett Blankner uses his Triathlete's Garage podcast (http://triathlon.blankner.com/) to bring a personal perspective on training for and competing in triathlons. And that view starts literally in his own garage, where he uses Audacity, a Lansing boom microphone, and his HP computer to bring you into his world.

Triathlons are grueling events. They comprise three stages: biking, swimming, and running, any of which is enough sport for the average person. But triathlons blend all three into a single event. The training for this sport is equally intense. To keep his triathlete listeners going, Brett creates shows that contain upbeat music, interviews, and segments of his perspectives, based on his experiences. He even blends in soundseeing tours [Hack #72] from the races he competes in using a MuVo MP3 player [Hack #69] with a voice recorder.

He records the podcast on the one day a week he takes off from his intense training. He uses his garage/studio to do the recording. Starting with some experiences from the week, he adds any interesting sounds he has recorded as well as any news or tips the audience would appreciate. When he's done, he uses Audacity [Hack #50] for the final mix to MP3 before uploading to the site, and then modifies his hand-written RSS 2.0 feed [Hack #37] to point to the latest show.

His audience is a blend of athletes, people interested in the sport, and his own family. The feedback he gets from the show is mostly positive. Sometimes he even gets some technical advice from his listeners that he uses to improve the show's sound quality.

But it's not all about sound quality, he warns. He thinks the show works because of his enthusiasm for the sport and the fun that he has creating the show. The show completes an emotional circle with the audience: he trains, competes, and then shares his personal victory with the podcast world. Southern Sports Week.

If you are more of a fan than a participant, you should check out Kit Baty's Southern Sports Week (http://kitbaty.com/ssw). Kit's 20 to 30-minute podcast covers the sports news from the Southern states as well as items he considers "off the radar" of the mainstream sports press.

Show notes are Kit's first step when building a show episode. These include the headlines he wants to talk about, stories he has researched, and any emails he wants to talk about. Then he uses Audacity [Hack #50] and his Plantronics headset [Hack #12] to record the show. It takes about 45 minutes to put together a show. It can take around an hour if it's an interview show.

He's pretty harsh on his voice, saying that he sounds like "an NPR host who hasn't yet hit puberty." But his production value and confidence increase with every podcast, as does his listener base. In the long run, he wants to have a listener base large enough to get him into coaches' press conferences and Southern sports events, with full press credentials. For now, he is satisfied with providing an alternative to what he sees as fresher and more free-form than what is on commercial sports radio today. Fantasy Focus.

In case you missed it, Fantasy Baseball has become a multi-million-dollar industry over the last decade. Bill Powers' Fantasy Focus (http://podsumer.com/fantasyfocus/) is the first podcast to cover Fantasy Baseball. Bill and his co-host, Chris, create one podcast a week. The show's format evolves as the season progresses. Before the season starts, they cover the fantasy drafts. And once the season starts, they cover the hot fantasy players and the match-ups that are coming up.

To produce the show, they use Cool Edit [Hack #50], which is now called Audition and is sold by Adobe. It takes between five and seven hours to produce a single show, from drawing up the show notes to recording and through to editing and uploading. They get highlights of recent games by purchasing them from the Major League Baseball site (http://mlb.com/).

Most of the feedback so far has been from men who share their passion for fantasy sports. Once the season gets started, they use the email they get to suggest team strategies and trade proposals with their audience.

4.10.6. See Also

Sam Coutin

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