10 Questions with ... Paul Major Bradley and Paul Eide
October 11, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Paul Major Bradley, aka Major Bradley, grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. He graduated from Tulane University in 2003. He attained a liberal arts degree, which put him back at square one. Naturally, he bartended and picked up a gig writing local sports for a community newspaper. He moved to Arlington, Virginia for no reason, in 2005. He eventually went to law school in New York City ~ for no reason, as well. Feeling he had gained the full scope of U.S. law after just one semester, he retreated back to Arlington and an editing gig at The Discovery Channel. He somehow found himself in Texas during 2010, hosting a daily sports talk show on ESPN 1230, with producer Michael Turley. Now, he is back in Phoenix, writing sports for several outlets and producing the Major Paul & Paul Show, three times a week.
Paul Eide is a freelance sportswriter and radio host out of Omaha, Nebraska. With 10 full years under his belt, he has tremendous contacts with sports agents and athletes. When he receives a text message, he cannot be sure whether it will have derived from one of the countless women of questionable repute with whom he consorts, or the starting left tackle for [insert NFL team]. He is a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and season ticket holder for the Omaha Nighthawks, a team which is a figment of his wild imagination. He attended the university of Nebraska-Omaha and another school in Chicago, but nobody is sure if he graduated fro any legal U.S. institution of higher learning.
The Major Paul & Paul Show show is sponsored by Joe Horn's Bayou 87 Barbecue Sauce and Joe is a regular guest, as are numerous other past and present NFL players.
1. Why did you launch your podcast - what gave you the impetus to go from broadcast radio to podcasting?
Major: For me, the real key was getting fired.
Then, we were each separately hitting tons of road blocks in getting back on the air. So, we just decided to get together and start making a show and publishing it through our own means, then contact those who can help us and present them with the product. We were confident in our ability and we wanted to take the distribution of our voices out of the hands of others; podcasting gave us that ability. Well, podcasting, a couple good microphones and my copy of Garage Band '11.
Paul: Major and I were both tired of the "know it all" tone that pervades sports talk radio, particularly in the NFL/fantasy area. And, unfortunately, broadcast radio seems to prefer that. Neither of us like to be talked down to, and neither did many of our friends who ingest sports radio for hours in a given day, so we started a podcast that provides solid analysis/interviews, but with an undercurrent of silliness. Also, Major and I have never met in person -- he hired me as a freelance writer when he was Managing Editor for another site. We'd get into sending each other these excessively long emails that were pure silliness. The first time we spoke on the phone we talked for three hours about all four major sports, the 90's era of grunge rock and about the failure of our personal lives on so many levels. And we thought "Hey, this is great."
2. Sort of related to that, what are the advantages and disadvantages of doing a show via podcast as opposed to broadcasting on "regular" radio? Have you found it a challenge to keep to a regular schedule of production?
Major: Keeping a schedule is somewhat tough, especially given that I have to produce the show, myself. Neither of us had production experience, we were merely talent in the past ~ and I use that term loosely (especially with Paul). I have had to learn through trial-by-fire and am constantly attempting to improve audio quality/editing.
Paul: First of all, how dare you, Major???
Secondly, I think without a doubt the main challenge of a podcast is production in general. Having a producer is such an important piece for objectivity and for overall show quality. The regular schedule of production has not been too difficult to maintain, but editing it is very time consuming.
Major: We often find ourselves at the mercy of our guests when it comes to scheduling. On one hand, we do not have to fight their schedules the way a terrestrial show does, given that a traditional show is on at a specific time. On the other, we deal with scenarios like that of last Friday, when we woke quite early to do a 6:30am show at the behest of Jeff Blake and he no-showed. We run a social media consultancy and had several meetings related to it, that day. I also had to drive three hours to make my mother's surprise birthday party by 5pm, so time was at a premium and Blake really jobbed us. However, the show that came out of it was either our greatest work, or our worst failure.
Paul: Yeah, it is subject to interpretation. Please do not judge our ability based on that show. It was funny, but not ... technically ... sound.
Major: Yeah, let's leave it at that. Getting back to the advantages of the Internet vs. traditional radio, we love doing long-form interviews. Neither of us had experience with it, having come from traditional radio backgrounds. Our first show was a scintillating 80-minute interview with the great Sam Wyche, who took us on a crazy, meandering journey through his fascinating life -- that's not promotional shtick, either. I truly feel that way about his comments. The guy who invented the no-huddle was days away from attending medical school after playing at Furman. Paul asked him to be his Dad.
Paul: That's true. Haven't heard back on that one, yet.
3. How are you going about spreading the word about your show? What kind of marketing can and will you do to stand out among the many podcasts on sports?
Major: Through trial and error, I developed a Twitter system that targets and adds large amounts of followers to any account, based on interest and location -- without Tweeting. We obviously handle our Tweeting, but our clients like that we do not need to Tweet to grow their accounts. It also weeds out bad Followers for corporate clients, but we take all comers with @MajorAndPaul. I am starting to sound like a gratuitous self-promoter ... which I am.
Paul: Twitter has been a great aid in spreading the word of our show as our number of Followers would lead you to believe. Building partnerships with people of note in the community is also key, particularly by having great guests. Our sponsorship with Joe Horn gives us an angle that other podcasts with similar content don't have. Our access to coaches and players makes the show stand out. But we're always looking for more sponsors and more ways to market the show.
4. You concentrate on fantasy football -- do you see the future of sports talk as more about fantasy and individual players' performance and potential than it will be about the local teams, as it has been in the past? Do you think local loyalties will ever be diminished as the interest in fantasy sports increases?
Paul: Great question. I think the focus on individual players will continue to grow, in part because that's how fantasy is played and because fantasy grows every year, and because that's how the NFL markets itself now. Local loyalties are definitely diminished -- especially if you're in the Finals of your league and you, as a Bears fan, need Greg Jennings to notch 100 yards and a TD!
Major: Loyalties are still what drive sports. 61,500 people do not show up to freeze their faces off at Soldier Field to see Matt Forte get a rushing bonus. I just had this conversation with some friends yesterday, after my hapless Cardinals gave up four touchdowns in the first quarter. One of them said, "Well, there's still fantasy."
That is the point, in my opinion. Fantasy allows people to love a sport that much more. It broadens interest in entire leagues, especially the NFL. I run a 14-team fantasy league that is insanely cut-throat. The owners are ruthless and highly knowledgeable. We do not let just anybody play... yet we have two women, one of whom won the 2009 title, the other lost in the 2010 championship game. Not to be misogynistic, but that should tell you what fantasy has done for the NFL.
We focus on fantasy because we hate fantasy radio shows. Guys call in to ask who they should start and some banal nerd who has never played any sport runs through his nonsensical analysis, then solves the terrifying conundrum for some other joker. That's the worst.
Paul: THE WORST!
5. Where do you see podcasting in ten years? How about yourself- ideally, what do you want to be doing in five and ten years?
Major: I see Internet radio, in general, as the future of the industry. In 10 years, I think people's car radios will be 100 times better computers than the Macbook I currently use to produce our show. Stations will be web channels and listeners will be able to easily choose from any content, world-wide.
I already frequently listen to 1310 The Ticket, out of Dallas, in my car. I just use an app on my phone and it connects me to nearly every even somewhat popular station in the country and it plays via bluetooth on my car speakers. It also functions as a radio DVR, which speaks to why I think live reads, product integration and remote broadcasts will eventually eliminate traditional ads on traditional radio.
We want the Major Paul & Paul Show to be traditionally popular, regardless of where people find sports talk. We want that five and 10 minutes from now, let alone years. We went to the Internet simply to get our content available for consumption, not because we prefer it to landing a traditional radio gig. Our hope is that someone thinks, "These guys are this good with just a couple of laptops? Let's hire them and see what they can do in a studio, with a producer" -- on Internet, radio, or wherever.
Paul: I want to be hosting this show on a network (radio or tv) and broadcast live from a different NFL game each week. Actually, I just want to have 10 sponsors that love the show and can't wait to pay us that month. And I want that to be in the next six months. And then in six months we'll go from there. Sure you want the stability of having some concept of what will be happening five or ten years from now, but that isn't realistic in this industry. That's why it isn't for everyone.
Major: Wow, ambitious, Paulie E...
6. Who are your inspirations and mentors, if any, in the business?
Major: Easy for me: "The Hardline" on the aforementioned 1310 The Ticket, out of Dallas. I got in to sports talk because of simply listening to their take on organizing a show. ESPN 1230 (in Wichita Falls) took me on based on some airchecks I put together on my iPhone and I have been obsessed with the craft since that day. I listen to a tremendous amount of sports talk and those guys are head and shoulders above what I generally hear. Their ability to intersperse pop culture, banter, news and music in to an insightful sports show makes The Hardline A) hilarious; B) informative; and C) enjoyably stupid. Those three things are my goals with our show -- you hear that, Mom? All that cash on my education and my career goal at 30 years old is to be enjoyably stupid.
Paul: Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange. On the serious tip, Tom McManus, who hosts "Tom McManus Uncensored" during the morning drive Monday-Friday on 930 The Fox in Jacksonville has become both an inspiration and a mentor.
Major: Word -- McManus is the man.
7. Of what are you most proud?
Major: The fact that we have managed to plug along with the ramshackle setup we have. Plain and simple.
Paul: Show-wise, the guests we've been able to get and how well executed the interviews have been. Sam Wyche being my personal favorite. Just a great interview, not because we did it, but because I am an NFL history nerd and talking to him was like leaving my body for an hour and a half, drifting through past events up to the present day, then waking up and realizing it was all recorded.
8. About your podcast partnership -- what do you each bring to the table? What are each of your roles on the show -- are you complimentary, conflicting, generally in agreement... what do each of you offer?
Paul: We are complimentary mostly, but we both have our own opinions. He hates my segment "Emails From Paul's Mom," which is BY FAR them most requested segment on the show, but he "tolerates" it as a joke. We bring a ton of knowledge about a lot of things, sports and culture-wise, and we love to laugh. We don't spend time cutting people down, because we aren't perfect -- we make light of my divorce all the time on the show, because it's funny.
Major: He makes me better. I was not great in Texas, nor was I as the voice of The Fansite Network. I was raw. Paul's combination of absurd sports knowledge, general absurdity as a human and light-hearted delivery allow me to make points more effectively, while ensuring that I remember when to make with the funny. He is my Goose. I keep things on track, he takes them off in a delightful way and I bring us back to Earth ... as much as our show can possibly be near Earth and its goings-on.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ______________.
Paul: Talking to Major Bradley via text or phone call or email 10+ times a day. It's the closest to loving another man as I have ever been.
Major: Wow. I was gonna say club soda.
10. What's the most valuable lesson you've learned in your career so far?
Paul: This is paraphrased from something I read the other day -- that anyone who gets into creative work gets into it because they have good taste and wants to contribute. But there is a gap from when you first start making something, to that point in the future when when you are finally happy with it (though never 100%).
But you have to keep putting in the work, grinding away, because at some point your potential is realized and things will generally line up -- if you are willing to work long enough, hard enough, for an unknown period of time.
Basically, the most valuable thing I've learned is that you have to be willing to work harder than anyone and throw yourself into some situations that aren't comfortable.
Major: I have learned that Paul isn't nearly as funny in email interviews as he is on the air.
Seriously, though, what I have learned is that one must look out for oneself. Keep efforts diversified, because there are only so many gigs and a great host can lose his for saying one thing that hits the news.
This medium is a passion, but I respect guys who set up side ventures to cover their backs. And that speaks back to the value of the Internet -- it isn't going anywhere and we can go back to that well regardless of what else happens in our careers.