Amber Roessner, author of Inventing Baseball Heroes/media history professor

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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.

Sandy Puc, co-founder/photographer of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

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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.

Interviewed on 8-14-14

Cheryl Haggard, co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

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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.


Interviewed on 8-6-14

How’d You Write That? Tommy Tomlinson

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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.

Interviewed on 8-24-14

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.