I distinctly remember skipping out of class to sit in my car with the radio on in the high school parking lot listening to sports radio out of Chicago. I was born in raised just outside of Milwaukee, and if the weather was just right, through the static I could hear WSCR talking about the Bears and the Bulls and the White Sox.
I was not a Chicago sports fan – I hated those teams – but I was a huge sports fan in general and was coming of age during the dawn of sports talk radio. This was 1992 and 1993, and most big cities didn’t even have one sports talk radio station, let alone two or three, let alone any on the FM dial, like all do now.
I began listening because I was such a big sports fan, but increasingly kept listening to understand how these guys who were talking on the radio could make an hour go by like it was 15 minutes. What were they doing to make that time fly so fast?
That question led me to a career in talk radio that continues to this day.
One of the first things I did when arriving at Auburn University was stop by the campus radio station. I learned that after a brief introductory seminar, I could be on the radio.
The station had a sports show once a week that I began hosting and coordinating my first quarter on campus through graduation. Being able to experiment with my voice and practice without many people listening was a tremendous benefit to my career.
Also throughout college, as my girlfriend would testify to, I listened to as much sports radio as I could. First thing in the morning until right before bed. Good and bad, national and local. I wasn’t simply listening to find out who won the game, I was listening critically. Trying to understand what was good, what was bad, and why. Examining the tactics used by the best hosts and stations to create a more compelling, engaging, entertaining product. I dissected everything I heard. I learned from doing and from listening.
After graduation I spent more time hosting talk shows in Auburn, cohosting an FM morning show, constantly listening to everything I could nationwide, building an internal database in my mind. Listening with as critical an ear as possible.
Not long after graduating, I moved to Birmingham where again I was hosting not only sports talk shows now, but news talk shows. Solo-hosted news talk shows. This was different as most sports radio content at that time was co-hosted.
I learned more. I kept listening to everything everywhere, analyzing what was good, what was bad, and understanding why.
My first foray into national talk radio came as producer of the Michael Savage show. That show was the fourth most-listened-to talk show in the country at the time. From Michael Savage I learned the power of going all out. Of what it really means to give everything of yourself on the air. Michael Savage hosted a talk show the way Metallica performs a concert or Vincent van Gogh painted – no holding back.
From there I went back into sports radio in Atlanta, a top-10 market, producing the afternoon drive show at 790 the Zone, then one of the best sports talk radio stations in the country.
From Atlanta it was back to network radio at ESPN. I lived in Bristol, CT for four years, working first to transition Tony Kornheiser out of his longtime ESPN Radio show and then to launch and grow Colin Cowherd‘s show. From Tony Kornheiser, I learned the power of storytelling. From Colin Cowherd, the power of being light – the power of positivity, the power of being happy, the power of funny.
Sports talk radio was making a tremendous transition at this point as an industry, breaking from its “angry white guy” past, moving away from yelling and screaming and constant negativity, and finding a new audience that preferred a kinder and gentler product. Preferred to have a good time. As sports talk radio matured and moved increasingly to the FM dial thanks to greater revenues and respectability, a wider audience was found, and audience that didn’t want 24 hours a day of kick you in the shins, hard-core, sports talk radio. It wanted more Colin Cowherd: real people, funny people, personalities, quirkiness, stories.
After ESPN, I returned to Atlanta, producing and hosting more shows, continually listening to everything I could, continually training my ear, evolving my perspectives and establishing myself as an unquestioned leader in the field of talk radio.
For the last six years I have worked at 1010 XL in Jacksonville as the program director. I also leading the station’s digital efforts, which included our recent launch of a podcast network featuring original podcasts published every day.
Podcasts are the new talk shows, and what makes them great is you don’t need a radio station to put them on. As websites displaced newspapers and magazines, podcasts are lessening the importance of radio stations and TV stations. Entry to the marketplace of spoken word content is so much more accessible now than it’s ever been and that’s a great thing.
I continue to work every day with my station’s hosts and producers to make sure their talk shows and podcasts are the best they can be. Now I’m offering you the same opportunity.
Having hosted and produced talk shows and podcasts all over the country for the past 25 years, I’m certain I can use what I’ve learned to make you the best podcast host you can be and to make your podcast the best it can be. This isn’t magic. It’s not purely about having natural talent. Like any other profession, there’s training, there’s tips, tools and techniques that can make you better. And also like any other profession, there are people within that industry who know these secrets. I am one of them. I want to share them with you.