Category Archives: Podcast

Clark Judge, Talk of Fame Sports Network/former CBSSports.com NFL writer

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Clark Judge’s new project is fascinating to me, mostly because he, along with the Boston Herald’s Ron Borges and the Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin, have started a radio show that deals strictly with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the history of the game. Which I love. In our discussion, Judge and I talk about the niche the Talk of Fame Sports Network will fill, why baseball’s history is so idyllic while football’s history is less discussed, whether the Baseball HOF is better than the Pro Football HOF, and how difficult a landscape it is out there for writers who are looking for work.

Plus, we talk about the role and impact of the local sports columnist (as first discussed in Episode 43 with the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Geoff Calkins). And whenever I get together with Judge, we can’t help but talk about prog rock and prog metal and why that genre of music gets a bad rap. This chat was no different.


Interviewed on 8-18-14

Here’s something similar:

We talked prog rock with Judge. And I talked heavy metal with CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora. And ska with Pietasters lead singer Stephen Jackson.

A correction:

During the podcast, I accidently said that the Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Akron, Ohio. Since I’ve actually been there, I, of course, know it’s actually in Canton.

Jessica Luther, freelance writer/feminist activist

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The impetus for my chat with Jessica Luther was her blog post on sportsgrid.com’s response to the demise of Sports on Earth, and she has a fascinating story to tell about how she marries her activism for feminist issues to writing about sports. In our chat, we discuss sportsgrid.com’s thought process on the use of click-bait, why it makes Luther sad and angry at the same time, and why she believes those kinds of websites contribute to what Luther calls the “rape culture.”

Plus, she talks about the process of writing a book on the intersection of college football and sexual assault, and Luther describes why she remains optimistic.

A quick FYI: In this episode, we talk a little about the Vanderbilt football sexual assault case. I wasn’t that familiar with it, but if you’d like a little background, here’s one of Luther’s pieces. Also, here’s her piece on her internal conflict on rooting for Florida State with Jameis Winston as quarterback.

Interviewed on 8-11-14

Here’s something similar:

I haven’t delved too often into women-in-sports-journalism issues on the podcast, but I still love Episode 22 with Claire Smith, a journalistic trailblazer and a current ESPN.com editor. We talk about her struggle to enter MLB clubhouses in the 1970s. Check it out.

Our Favorite Stories, part 2

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The first time we unleashed Our Favorite Stories, it was a rousing success. So, we’re back for more.

A quick reminder: I talked to three guests and asked them the same five questions.

1) Who is your favorite player/coach to have covered?

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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?

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5) Who’s your all-time favorite writer, sports or otherwise?

I gathered some buddies — the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Dehner, Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel and the Indianapolis Star’s Candace Buckner — and basically, we just told stories.

You’ve got to hear Dehner’s tales about covering Wally Backman as a minor league manager in Albany, Georgia; Wetzel’s reasons why Dan Jenkins is one of all his-time favorite writers; and Buckner’s sadness that Sports Illustrated’s Gary Smith has retired.

Geoff Calkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal sports columnist

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Geoff Calkins is a Harvard-trained lawyer who clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge and worked for a 500-man firm in D.C. He took all that training and became … well … a sports writer. A very good one, in fact, who was an influence on me when I interned at the Memphis Commercial Appeal in the summer of 2000. In our chat, we talk about how tough it is for a sports writer to maintain a daily radio show and the energy time suck that it becomes, why Harvard Law produces U.S. presidents and Memphis sports writers, and why Calkins has stayed as a columnist in mid-sized city despite opportunities to leave.

He also discusses why he’s OK hosting a daily radio show in Memphis while his former colleague John Robert is the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Interviewed on 7-3-14

Alexis Stevens, Atlanta Journal-Constitution breaking news reporter

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One recent story that has captured the city of Atlanta and for much of the entire country is the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris and whether his father intentionally killed him by leaving him in his broiling car all day long. The first reporter on the scene that day was Alexis Stevens, a breaking news reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In our chat, we talk about how she worked the story that day and in the days following, her stance on using anonymous sources in this specific case, and how she deals with the human emotions that surround her while she works a story.

Also, Stevens discusses her approach to interviewing families who have just suffered the death of a loved one and how she thinks this tragedy perhaps can help somebody moving forward.

Interviewed on 7-2-14

Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports NFL insider

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The national NFL reporters have one of the toughest jobs in all of sports writing. It’s a grind that never seems to end with the pressures to ABB(N) (Always Be Breaking (News)). But CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora — one of the most successful NFL beat writers out there — says that it’s actually a tremendous way to earn a living.

In our chat, we talk about the 24/7/365 nature of the beat he covers and how he handles the balance between work and family when he’s not really working (but kind of is), how he structures his schedule (and prays like hell) so that he can break news on the Sunday morning NFL shows even if he learns of the news earlier in the week, and how he defends breaking news on Twitter while the NFL draft is ongoing.

Also, we talk about heavy metal, because that’s kind of what we do whenever we see each other. I detail my meeting with Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess, and La Canfora talks about his conversation with Slayer’s Kerry King and how much the thrash metal guitar god loves his Oakland Raiders.

Interviewed on 5-28-14

How’d You Write That? ESPN The Magazine’s Kevin Van Valkenburg

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On the MTTS podcast, we’re debuting a brand-new segment, called “How’d You Write That?” and it should be fairly obvious what it’s all about. Our first guest happens to be an excellent one, ESPN the Magazine’s Kevin Van Valkenburg. Before you listen, make sure to read last month’s feature on Adam Muema, “Hiding in Plain Sight.” In our chat, we discuss how Van Valkenburg got in touch with the elusive Muema in the first place, why he structured the story the way he did, whether he ever felt Muema was manipulating him, and how he handled a competing outlet trying to write the same story.



Interviewed on 6-6-14

Here’s something newsworthy:

Before we get to Van Valkenburg’s interview, we remember the career of longtime LA Times columnist T.J. Simers, who announced his retirement from the Orange County Register (and from sports writing as a whole) this past week. One of my favorite portions of Episode 15 is Simers talking about how he created his own little world in the columns he wrote, and I’ve included a snippet of it in this week’s episode.

Mark Sheldon, MLB.com, Cincinnati Reds reporter

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Last week, Mark Sheldon was the most famous sports writer in the land. Mostly because San Francisco Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval’s foul ball destroyed Sheldon’s computer (the photo above was screen-shot about 20 seconds after the destruction) while local TV produced a video on Sheldon’s reaction that quickly went viral.

You can see the video right here.

And here.

But Sheldon, who I’ve known since last decade, is a good sport, and he agreed to talk about some of the most infamous moments of his career. In our chat, we discuss what the hell happened in that moment and why it came at such a bad time, how he still managed to write and send in his final game story of the night, and what kind of reaction he received in the aftermath.

Plus, we talk about what he thought about two-time MTTS guest C. Trent Rosecrans jubilantly taking photos of the destruction in the seconds after the ball entered the press box and if Sheldon ever talked with Sandoval about the incident. Also, whatever happened to that foul ball of destiny.

Interviewed on 6-6-14

Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly’s BBQ editor, @BBQsnob

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Many people who I meet think sports writers have the coolest job in the world, and while it’s hard to disagree at times, I think I’ve found a job that’s even more fanastic. Meet Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ editor for Texas Monthly magazine. As far as we know, he’s the only BBQ editor in the country, and yes, he gets to eat a half-ton of BBQ and then write about it. In our chat, we explore the ideas that he forever might have ruined his palate for mediocre BBQ, why you should be the first enchilada expert rather than the next BBQ expert, and if this massive interest in BBQ — call it a BBQ bubble — will decline at some point.

Plus, we talk about his journalistic ethics in a field where it’d be real easy to eat a ton-and-a-half of free meals, and how Vaughn stays healthy despite eating so much smoked meat.

Interviewed on 5-28-14

(Photo via bookpeople.com)

Here’s something similar:

In Episode 9, we talked to my favorite Australian BBQ writer, Jess Pryles. My first live #MTTS interview and one of my favorites. You can listen to that here.

Chris Snow, Calgary Flames director of statistical analysis/former Boston Globe Red Sox writer

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For the first time in podcast history, we touch on the subject of hockey. And we welcome Chris Snow, a former young stud in the sports writing industry who transitioned into working in the front office of a pro sports team. In our chat, we talk about why Snow would leave a top-notch beat (the Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Globe) and join the Minnesota Wild organization, how long it will take for data-driven information to permeate into the NHL like it does in MLB and the NFL, and what the status is of media coverage of hockey in Canada.

We also discuss whether Snow would like, at some point in his career, to take over an organization’s general manager role.

Interviewed on 5-22-14