My name is Alex Goldstick and I host/produce the Spring Forward podcast. Spring Forward focuses on the stories of the people (mostly players) involved in The Spring League, an elite developmental league and scouting event for professional football talent (or sometimes more well known as that league Johnny Manziel played in).
There is no effective minor league or developmental system for professional football in the United States and The Spring League is now in its second year of attempting to fill that void. As a sport as dangerous as football with extremely low job security (relative to other sports) for its players, those trying to achieve their professional football dreams are often motivated by their personal stories and past athletic achievements. In Spring Forward, I seek to bring those stories to light to uncover where that drive comes from.
On a personal level, I have always wanted to start my own podcast but never had a compelling subject that I thought people might be interested in. I had been involved in sports journalism throughout high school and college and then once I started my full time career at Foot Locker, found myself interviewing some of the most famous athletes in sports on camera as the face of the brand's YouTube channel . When I left the company and began managing social media for The Spring League, the idea of a podcast emerged as a new medium for the League to explore in order to tell the stories of and gain more exposure for our players, as well as other compelling individuals involved with the organization. The first episode of Spring Forward was released in March 2018 and I'll be publishing our 16th episode on the final day of May.
The frequency with which I release episodes depends on what is happening on The Spring League calendar which tends to be shaped around the NFL calendar. When I launched the pod, we were about a month away from the beginning of our season so we focused 2-3 times a week on players that would be playing in the League. Once I was on the ground (in Austin) during the season, I published about three episodes per week and those interviews were all recorded in person. Now that we are in our offseason, I'm focusing on the success stories that have come from The Spring League and have been creating episodes a little less than once per week on average but intend to ramp the frequency back up once we get closer to our Summer Showcase in July.
I've always tried to keep episodes between 20-30 minutes so to set up an interview, research the subject, record, edit, review, and publish usually takes 3-4 hours over the course of a day or two from start to finish. Because I have had some job fluctuation over the past couple months, I have had the unexpected time to devote to researching how and then ultimately getting a podcast up and running. It is to the point now that I can continue producing it no matter what my full time schedule looks like.
Podcast costs are very low. The only thing we invested in was a professional quality microphone and hosting site. Because this is mine and the League's first attempt at podcasting, we didn't want to take sponsors on to start but that will likely change in the future. We weren't sure if the podcast could be an additional revenue stream for the League but, to date, we really like the content that has come out of it.
As someone who has always wanted to try out podcasting, I'm extremely satisfied and proud of the work I've put out. While I initially set out just to be the host, the podcast has become my baby. In addition to hosting, I'm also a one man research department, publisher, and graphic designer for the logo. Doing a podcast focused on athletes has also given me an outlet to continue to work in sports no matter where my full-time career takes me. Though I formed personal friendships with numerous players during the League's season, the podcast allows me to keep in touch with many of them and hopefully further their careers and chances at success, as well.
I record the podcast out of my apartment in Brooklyn using only Garage Band, a Yeti Blue USB Microphone, and a JBL Clip 2 speaker. Though it's a bit of a primitive set up, I'm really happy with the quality I've been able to achieve with just a few simple tools. Spring Forward is hosted on Libsyn and published on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, and YouTube.
My guests are lined up anywhere from a few days to a week in advance and are selected from a pool of individuals close to The Spring League - usually players (there have been two episodes out of 16 that do not feature players). Now that we have so many episodes published, I prep my guests by having them listen to a couple of recent episodes and then I research them usually by exploring their social media accounts, sports websites, my own interactions with them, and more recently Listen Notes. The majority of episodes to date have been conducted over the phone although there are a fair amount that have been done in-person when I'm in the same city as the subject. I find the in-person conversations to be a much more intimate interview experience.
All of the marketing behind Spring Forward is done through The Spring League's social media and website. Spring Forward does not have unique accounts dedicated just to the podcast at the moment. Also, because the guests are typically athletes with above average and loyal social media followings, I try to encourage them to post about their episodes. Each athlete will appeal to a different set of fans depending on where they went to school and how far their professional careers have gone. The more loyal the fan base, the better analytics we'll see on the back end.
For the interview focused podcast that I produce, the key is to let the guest be the star of the show. I am the host on every episode and must do the research on every guest to make sure I am asking compelling well thought out questions but because Spring Forward is focused on the guest's story, they must be featured. I listen to a lot of podcasts of this genre, especially ones in sports, and the best piece of podcasting advice I could give which I learned before I did my first episode is never interrupt the guest. It makes for a very uncomfortable and awkward listening experience. If a guest is rambling or not getting to the point, find a way to edit it later but it's better to let them finish a complete though than to talk over them. I find a good interview always seems conversational to the listener but remember that podcasts are not necessarily live and can be cleaned up before publishing.