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Sportsmanlike Conduct

Will Podcasts Kill the Sports Radio Star?

Going Deep With the Brand

For existing media, podcasting offers the opportunity to create content that reaches new ears, thus increasing the potential audience for the existing publications. Such is the case for Baseball Prospectus Radio.

BaseballProspectus.com offers a mix of free and subscriber-only content focusing on the statistical analysis of baseball. Some pieces crunch the numbers and create useful stats you won't find on the normal FOX television broadcast, while others examine the intricacies of team and roster-development as teams struggle with the best way to field a World Series winner.

It's all the segments and interviews, without the commercials for male impotency drugs.

ESPN's BS Report, hosted by Bill Simmons, averages about 300,000 downloads per week.


That wide range extends off the screen and into the realm of audio. Will Carroll, in addition to focusing his bylines on baseball health issues, helps create the mix of player, coach, media and executive interviews that make up the podcasts.

"We get guests that the mainstream media doesn't and then give them a chance to talk for as long as it's interesting and substantive," he says. "Since we don't go daily, we're free to follow stories as they occur."

Carroll admits that the site still struggles with what works in podcast format, but says it helps add a level of content that separates BP from other online media. "I've done features where hearing someone makes all the difference," says Caroll. "I mean, where else will you hear Alyssa Milano, former commissioner Fay Vincent and Pulitzer Prize winner Buzz Bissinger?"

The Hybrid

Though podcasters might position themselves as a refuge from the ills of sports talk radio, the big boys still keep the pulse of most sports fans.

ESPN's first foray into podcasting brought the media giant's radio shows to the iPod and that source hasn't dried up. In addition to nationally syndicated shows, cable heavy-hitter also has used its affiliates in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles to create similar daily "best of" features—meaning displaced fans can join in the sorrow of an unsuccessful Chicago Cubs season without catching flak from the office IT guy for streaming shows online.

And ESPN's competitors haven't backed down in this new battleground, either. Competing radio stations like The Score (670 AM) in Chicago beefed up their online presence and set up shop through iTunes too.

The most interesting development on this front might be what happens each weekday in Los Angeles. Radio veteran Dave Dameshek went from co-hosting an on-air show for ESPN 710 to serving as online emcee for a daily podcast. Dave Dameshek on Demand allows for the humorous segments and interviews one would expect from the radio veteran, but without the time constraints usually necessitated by squeezing in commercials for male impotency drugs and guaranteed gambling tips. The show has nestled itself into both the ESPN 710 Web site and ESPN's offbeat offshoot, where columnists sometimes make the leap from the page to the pod on Dameshek's show.

The show separates itself with professional production values and catchy jingles most beginning podcasters would kill for. And as podcasts reach more and more casual technology users, that envy figures to grow. To wit: a search for "fantasy football" on iTunes brings up mainstays like ESPN's Fantasy Focus, as well as dozens of other prospective podcast hosts all hoping to offer a little bit of something you can't hear anywhere else.


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Going Deep With the Brand



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