Why am I a journalism podcaster?
Why is a baseball guy doing a journalism podcast? (yes, I know I repeated the headline)
Chances are you’ve either glossed over or not seen the frequent Twitter and Facebook posts I’ve made on social media. First it was the daily #journalismsalute hashtag
Then it was the advertisements for different episodes of my podcast, The Journalism Salute, which are the most frequent things I’ve posted the last few months.
I know from experience that it’s hard to get clicks on social media, especially for something that requires the time commitment of a podcast. So if you’re not interested, no worries.
But I’ve actually been surprised that I haven’t had many conversations about why I wanted to do something like this. Maybe people aren’t curious, but in case you are, here are a few answers
I wanted to do something that wasn’t sports (especially baseball)
I’ve operated on one track for a long time.
Baseball, baseball, baseball, baseball.
People have been telling me for years “You need to find something else. You can’t just watch baseball all the time.”
I haven’t been very good at that. But a few years ago I got at least a little better. I started venturing to stand-up comedy and magic shows at the suggestion of family. I’ve been all over New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and even integrated those entertainment options in trips to Los Angeles and Orlando.
I also noticed that the last two years in particular that I’ve had a hard time making it through the baseball season and the postseason. The games are too long and my attention span is too short. Brief digression: I probably should have trusted my instinct and not joined Twitter.
The pandemic created a lot more available time. I gained time lost to commuting. And I gained the time that I lost from my broadcasting gigs being wiped out (play-by-play for Muhlenberg and DeSales) .
I wanted to do something important
I’ve thrived in the sports world for my entire adult life and I’ve done reasonably well. I’ve had continuous employment for 27 years. I worked at the top sports network in the world and thrived for a large portion of my time there. I’ve written a book.
But there are a lot of ways to make a mark beyond the sports world. And I was trying to think of something that fit.
Participating in the political process was one option and I’ve done a little of that, text banking and writing letters and postcards to help get out the vote. I don’t have the patience or desire to deal with people voice-to-voice or face-to-face about their political beliefs (or delusions), so there’s only so far I can take it.
I’ve been an avid reader for more than 40 years. Just look at the intensity on my face when I was a little tyke being read to by my mom. When I was 6, my parents had to stop me from reading the main section of the newspaper because I'd get too upset by the stories.
I've been an avid writer for just as long (I used to throw tantrums as a toddler if my parents didn’t “write it down” for me ... I'm glad there's no video of this). The things I’ve read most are newspapers and magazines and it’s been continuously depressing to watch one after another fold or become a shell of what it was.
I was a journalism major at Trenton State College and I loved every class I took, from intros to journalism and to professional writing, to advanced reporting (known as “beats and deadlines) to editing and production to press history, press law, and the four-person sportswriting seminar that got tacked on as an independent study.
So in looking for something that fit for me, something hooked to journalism seemed like a good option. The tweets were good to do, but it became rote after a while. I wasn’t learning so much as I was copy-and-pasting. Taking it to the next level with a podcast would change my approach in a positive way.
A podcast would be new but it would have familiarity, since I’ve hosted or co-hosted them at my last two jobs. I could put some skills to use that I’ve spent most of my adult life building, like the challenge of writing a thoughtful interview question that gets a “hmm…” response or going to the 12th page on a Google search to find interesting things about different groups or people.
I like starting from zero
I remember when I interviewed to be sports director of my Trenton State’s radio station (WTSR), I came with a written plan that was multiple pages long.
I did the same thing 27 years later with this podcast. I created a philosophy. I had a guest list. I had action steps. I executed them. I encountered roadblocks. I adjusted. There’s definitely a satisfaction in that.
There’s also part of me that likes the idea that I don’t know anybody. So every subject and every encounter is fresh.
I’m well established in the baseball stats and baseball history communities. It’s cool to try to become part of a new community in which there is minimal intersection with the baseball world. And you never know when those relationships will come in handy. Plus, I’ve applied some of the lessons I’ve gotten from talking to journalists to my sportswriting work.
I also like that I’m in a field in which there isn’t a lot of competition. The closest thing to what I’m doing is a well-established podcast called It’s All Journalism. When I told the host, Michael O’ Connell, that I started a podcast similar to his, he immediately invited me onto his show to (talk about sports media and) promote it. He wants mine to do well. That’s a lot different than the competition I know in sportswriting.
It’s All Journalism is a good podcast. Mine is too. There’s some intersection of guests, but he’s got his likes and I’ve got mine, so there is plenty of room for people to listen to both. I’m 16 episodes in and I’m enjoying it. I hope others are too.
Of course, the reason that there’s not a lot of competition is because right now, journalism podcasts are underappreciated and undervalued.
YOU can help me change that. Please consider giving The Journalism Salute a listen. Rate-and-review us if you like or dislike it. And please … please, please, please if you do listen: Let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading!