In our second podcast of 2015, we’re back to exploring the journey that female sports writers and broadcasters have to face on Twitter. Coming off the controversy a couple months back in Chicago when two radio personalities publicly discussed a TV sports reporter’s body, we’re talking to Kavitha Davidson, sports columnist for Bloomberg who writes plenty of controversial stories that lead to plenty of unwanted responses on Twitter. During our chat, we talk about whether she questions why she continues to write despite a backlash she knows she’ll face on just about everything she writes, what she believes rape culture to be, and how exhausting it is to cover the never-ending domestic violence issues in sports.
We also talk about whether, because of Mo’ne Davis and Ronda Rousey, we’re entering the era of badass female athletes and whether that could help change the culture.
For the first time in MTTS history, we’ve got a romance novelist on the line. And what an interesting interview with Kaye, whose website is available for perusal. In our chat, we talk about how she generates so much damn content (22 completed books since 2011 with a goal of 3,000 written words a day), how a traumatic brain injury gave her a strong creative urge and changed her entire career path, and how an independent author has to worry about being seen by her original fans as “selling out.”
Plus, we talk about why the romance novel industry continues to sell plenty of hard copies of its books, and (perhaps most importantly) we talk about how she approaches writing a sex scene (no “purple-headed warriors” or “throbbing members” stuff here).
For the second-straight week, the MTTS welcomes a multi-time Pulitzer Prize winner. This time, we have ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta, who’s won three (!) of those awards. In our chat, we talk about how Van Natta could take notes in the midst of a 165-mph hurricane and then churn out a 1,400-word story that helped his newspaper win the Pulitzer, why he turned to sports writing after so many years as an investigative newshound at the NY Times, how over-reporting can help and hurt his stories, and how an investigative reporter spends his days.
Plus, we recount our experiences trying to report and write separate biographies of Sid Gillman at about the same time, and we talk about how tough the book-writing world can be.
My favorite quote from the podcast on how Van Natta operates: “You have to report with insecurity, and you have to write with overconfidence.”
The first Pulitzer Prize winner joins the MTTS, and it’s an honor to have him — particularly since I grew up looking at his fantastic editorial cartoons. In our discussion, we talk about how Luckovich’s brilliance is, in some ways, inspired by fear and procrastination; his daily work schedule (hint: he doesn’t get in to the office until noon (!)); and how long it takes him to get from the genesis of his idea until the last cartoon is colored.
Plus, we discuss why Luckovich likes the image of the pearly gates when he’s drawing a cartoon on a celebrity who’s just died; why people feel comfortable asking him for free drawings; how he deals with cartooning controversy; and how he came up with a cartoon the day of 9/11.
Luckovich’s quote on his job: “I friggin’ still love it.”
In Episode 17, I talked to Mack Williams, one of the original animators on FX’s Archer. Like my conversation with Luckovich, Williams and I talked about the inspiration that was Mad magazine and we discussed the problems of plagiarism in the cartooning world.
I must say that I love conducting these Our Favorite Stories, and version No. 3 — featuring Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins, MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince and USA Today NFL writer Lindsay Jones — might be the best one so far.
A quick reminder: I asked the three guests the same five questions.
1) Who is your favorite player/coach to have covered?
2) Who is your least favorite?
3) What’s your favorite story/moment from the road/from the beat?
4) Who’s your favorite current writer, sports or otherwise?
5) Who’s your all-time favorite writer, sports or otherwise?
You’ve got to hear Calkins’ immense problems covering legendary basketball coach John Calipari (awesome stories contained within), you get to hear about my legendary night in Pittsburgh with Anthony Castrovince in the mid-2000s (and why Castrovince once got the evil eye from Roger Clemens), and why Lindsay Jones draws inspiration from reading the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins and ESPN.com’s Liz Merrill.
Dana Jacobson is a star broadcaster. She worked for ESPN for a decade, anchoring SportsCenter and helping transition Cold Pizza into First Take, before leaving a contract on the table and moving over to the CBS property. During our chat, we talk about the CBS Sports Network’s new all-female sports talk show “We Need To Talk” and how she thinks it’ll play to a national audience, how much Jacobson has to fight the perception from some that women don’t know sports, and why anchoring SportsCenter was such a huge deal (“Wow,” Jacobson remembers saying. “I got here.”).
Plus, we talk about how she survived on making $15,000 per year earlier in her career, and what it’s like for her to be a woman on Twitter on a daily basis.
My former colleague at the Red & Black student newspaper, Amber Roessner is now a professor of media history at the University of Tennessee, and she’s written a fascinating book, “Inventing Baseball Heroes: Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, and the Sporting Press in America”. In our chat, we talk about the future of our industry and how she as a teacher is optimistic about what’s to come, how newspapers played a role in the making of baseball heroes in the early 20th century, and why the relationship between ballplayers and sports writers back then was so chummy.
Plus, we talk about why I’m annoyed by the attitude of long-ago sports writers about protecting the athletes they covered, and we listen to Roessner squirm when I ask her whether those writers were actually any good.
Interviewed on 8-27-14
Here’s something similar:
My first-ever podcast was with Cincinnati Enquirer Reds writer C. Trent Rosecrans. We talked plenty of baseball that day.
After an interesting chat with Cheryl Haggard last week, we check in with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep co-founder and photographer Sandy Puc. We get her perspective on why the duo started the foundation, what it was like photographing Cheryl’s son before and after he died, how the thousands of NILMDTS photographers approach each session, and how they proceed through their workn. It’s yet another emotional chat, but it’s also a fantastic talk.
Plus, on a lighter note, we talk about why Sandy decided to get married via an Elvis impersonator and how and why she travels eight months a year, much of the time with her children.
We’re taking a different tone the next two weeks as we talk to the two co-founders of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an organization that provides the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby. The first guest this week is Cheryl Haggard, who wrote this beautiful piece after her son, Maddux, died. During our chat, we talk about how the loss of her child spurred her to help start this organization, how those photos have brought hope to her future and honor to her child, and the perception problem the organization faces in regards to postmortem photography.
Plus, we talk about how a photographer approaches a session with a family who’s suffering a loss and if society is becoming more accepting of this kind of photography.
For the second time on the MTTS podcast, we’re presenting our “How’d You Write That?” segment. The first time was with ESPN The Magazine’s Kevin Van Valkenburg on Episode 40, and it should be fairly obvious what this is all about. Before you listen to my interview with Tommy Tomlinson, make sure to read the this ESPN The Mag feature on former Kentucky star/NFL backup quarterback Jared Lorenzen, “You Can’t Quit Cold Turkey.”
In our chat, Tomlinson and I talk about how he crafted his lede and why he circled back to it a few times later in the feature, how Tomlinson established his tone for the story and why he wanted to write simply, and how he structured the entire article (this last portion really fascinated me, by the way). Plus, Tomlinson talks in detail about how he reported the piece and how he handled all the interviews around it.