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5 Podcasts in 5 Days: The Vertical with Woj

We’ve reached the end of the line for our “5 Podcasts in 5 Days” series. It’s been fun binge listening to multiple shows this week, and from a professional standpoint, it’s been beneficial for my own knowledge and understanding. There are many different approaches to creating quality podcasts, and I’ve discovered elements during this exercise that have my brain racing with a million different questions.

The ones that fill my head the most are, is this the type of programming that audiences will seek more of in the future? Can money be made in the space when commercial opportunities are minimal? How will they be marketed to expand the audience? Will they be measured properly? And aside from less commercials, are they any different than what’s being provided on local sports radio stations?

As I went through this project, I wanted to listen to shows that were very different from one another. I also sought out programs that were produced by different companies so I could see how each group approached the audio space. I listened to Bill Simmons, the Men in Blazers, Clay Travis, and Jonah Keri, and learned that there are qualities in each that I enjoy, and opportunities for growth. Unlike terrestrial radio which lives and dies by a faulty ratings system, but operates under it none the less, the podcasting platform is still evolving, and the blueprint to success is undergoing modifications.

For today’s final episode, I reviewed “The Vertical Podcast with Woj”. The program is hosted by nationally recognized NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, whose written work is featured on Yahoo Sports, and whose podcast is produced by DGital Media. He’s also one of the most important, and influential sports media people on Twitter. His following currently sits at 1.3 million.

As you digest the information from today’s review, let me remind you that my assessments aren’t the gospel. These are my own professional opinions, and others who consume the content may feel differently about it. That’s no different than what a broadcaster deals with every time they hit the airwaves and talk to an audience. Some will like it, others will not. Either way, the show goes on.

My goal in doing this has been to deliver an honest and objective perspective, and give listeners an idea of what they can expect when they listen to a show. My praise isn’t paid for, and my criticisms aren’t personal. I realize that other podcasts that have been created by the host(s) may be different from the one I’m reviewing, but each show I’ve listened to is recent, and a fair reflection of each show’s work. Whatever exists on other episodes, has no relevance to the one I’ve spent time listening to.

If you’d like to listen to the episode I’ve reviewed and follow along, click here. Now without further delay, let’s get down to business.

  • TITLE: The Vertical
  • DATE: June 1, 2016
  • LENGTH: 42 Minutes
  • CAST: Host = Adrian Wojnarowski
  • SPONSORS: Seat Geek
  • PRODUCTION: Excellent open which includes a quick tease by Woj, a short sponsor plug, music and quality imaging. A short liner mid-show to return the program back into content after a live read, and a production close to wrap up the program.

SHOW BREAKDOWN:

0:32-2:53 = Woj opens up the show, introduces Golden State Warriors General Manager Bob Myers, and then dives right into discussing the Warriors Game 7 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Myers explains how a Game 7 tests everyone’s emotions, and shares what went thru his mind on the drive home after the game was over.

2:54-5:14 = After being down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, Bob tells Woj what he learned about his team when their backs were against the wall.

5:15-9:15 = Bob shares some insight on Steph Curry’s confidence and leadership and how it rubs off on others. He gives some insight into conversations the two of them have had and how he helps him with understanding his role of being a leader.

9:16-12:07 = Woj talks about how Steph kept Klay Thompson feeling important when the national headlines started to shy away from the Splash Brothers and focus on Curry’s rise to stardom.

12:08-16:25 = Bob tells Woj how much respect and trust he has for Curry. He tells a story of when he updated Curry on the negotiations that were taking place with Draymond Green. He brought him in the loop and told him not to worry because they were working towards getting a deal done to keep Draymond in the Bay Area. Steph asked how much was on the table, and when Myers told him, he joked that Green should sign the deal immediately. Rather than get caught up in worrying about Green making more than himself, Steph was happy for his teammate, and never once turned it into a selfish situation. That type of approach makes it easier for Myers to go to bat for his superstar anytime he needs him to.

16:26-18:55 = Bob tells Woj about the nervousness and uncertainty that existed after Steph hurt his knee in the first round. The situation saddened him because he appreciates how hard Steph works, and he didn’t want to see him miss out on enjoying the benefits of everything he had worked so hard to produce throughout the season. He explains how Curry’s enthusiasm and positive outlook kept him feeling optimistic when it would have been easy to think negatively.

18:55-20:35 = Adrian smoothly transitions into a live read for SeatGeek, and starts it off by including the guest in the conversation – this was really well done (Bob, I know everyone is going to be coming to you and looking for tickets to the Finals, and I have a solution for you, send them to SeatGeek – here’s how it works)

20:36-20:40 = Production piece resets the show

20:41-23:12 = Woj asks Bob if the Warriors kept an eye on the Cavaliers during their record breaking season. He says they were so focused on their own business and the Western Conference that they didn’t have time to worry about the East. He adds insight on what impresses him about LeBron James.

23:13-28:59 = Was there added pressure on the Warriors to break the regular season wins record? Is it a successful season if they break the record but come up short in the playoffs? Bob explains how he approached the situation and why he has no concerns about the way the team followed the path that they did.

29:00-33:54 = His strong relationship with Kerr.

33:55- = Woj brings up Joe Lacob’s comments about the franchise being “light-years” ahead of the rest of the NBA. Myers explains how before he went to work for Lacob, he considered the Warriors owner brash, and thought he was crazy for thinking the team would win a championship in 5 years. Once he was hired by him, and got to know him, and how much winning mattered to him, he loved it, and appreciated having someone above him who sets the bar high. Bob admits he took some heat for Lacob’s comments, and although he himself would have said things in a more reserved manner, he loves Lacob’s passion, and his confidence and willingness to do whatever it takes to win, is a big reason why the franchise has become the best in the NBA.

SHOW ANALYSIS:

As I listened to this podcast, I was blown away for a few reasons. First, Woj is in command. He presents himself in an authoritative manner, and appears well prepared and confident. His game plan going into the interview is sound, and his ability to recall specific news and events, allows certain parts of the conversation to expand and become more interesting.

One thing you’ll notice quickly is the level of respect Bob Myers has for Woj. When the host of a show can put a guest at ease, it allows a discussion to evolve. Great material is offered consistently throughout this interview because of the trust, respect, and comfortability that exists between Bob and Woj.

Another reason the conversation was exceptional is because Woj is extremely skilled as an interviewer. He asks excellent questions, listens to the answers, follows up when necessary, and let’s the content develop organically. He also keeps his questions relatively short which is a very effective practice.

The other part of this podcast that deserves recognition is the production and structure. Of the five podcasts I reviewed this week, this one had the best presentation. You can tell that it’s being produced by people who have an ear for audio, and an understanding of creating good radio. The production to start the show is crisp, the liner incorporated after the live read sounds nice and helps the show return to content, and the end of the program closes with a nice touch as well.

Speaking of presentation, the way Woj works in the sponsor read for SeatGeek nineteen minutes into the show was very well done. They didn’t toss it out at the start of the show and make the listener wait four minutes to hear the content. It didn’t get buried at the end of the program when the audience has mentally checked out. And when it was executed in the middle of content, it was done so seamlessly and in a way that sounded connected to the conversation. If I was running SeatGeek and looking for an example to share with other podcasters who I was considering buying live spots from, this would be one that I highlight.

If there’s an area of the podcast that’s missing, it’s not hearing any commentary from Woj. This is strictly an interview podcast, and fortunately it’s a really good one. However, given Woj’s contacts in the basketball world, and the sports fan’s trust and interest in his work, I think it’d serve him well to come out of the gate for a few minutes sharing some stories and news items he’s hearing about, and then shift into the conversation with his guest.

If someone loves basketball and downloads this podcast, they’re going to learn some things from the guest that Woj chats with. But many of these fans see Woj the same way he sees his guests. If he can give them a little bit of himself, and create the demand for his information as he does on Twitter, this podcast could ascend to an even higher level.

CLOSING COMMENTS:

Bob Myers is a fantastic guest who I previously hired to do a weekly appearance on my former radio station in San Francisco. I knew he’d be great on this podcast because he’s one of the best guests in the NBA. I was curious to hear how similar or different he’d be with Woj compared to how he conducts himself on local Bay Area radio, and the conclusion I came away with is that he’s very engaged when talking to the media, and he understands why it’s important to give good answers and insight. When he talks to Woj, you get even more of that. That’s due to Bob recognizing Adrian’s power and influence.

If you love basketball, and conversations with notable NBA people, this podcast will excite you. If you appreciate smart and informed opinion, analysis, and in depth discussions on the NBA, this podcast will excite you. If you dislike the NBA, interview shows, or hosts who focus on information and seldom go on passionate diatribes, then you might want to consider other options.

In a nutshell, this is extremely well done. It has quality production, a great guest, a talented host/interviewer, and a format that keeps the focus on content while still satisfying the client. It could use more storytelling and opinion from the host, but that’s the only thing I felt was missing. I even thought the length of the podcast was perfect.

Woj has built a brand as the best reporter in NBA circles. That reputation helps him get people like Bob Myers to appear on the show, and that will give fans a reason to listen. If Woj can continue to deliver dynamite guests and information, and take the sports fan behind the curtain to learn additional details on stories he’s broken or is presently sourcing, this will become a podcast that attracts an even larger audience. I’m likely to be part of that group.

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