Believe me when I say I try to listen. I really do. But, invariably I tune out sports stories on public radio. They’re like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Of course, it doesn’t help that I couldn’t care less about professional sports. But, putting that aside, most public radio sports stories lack depth. They’re thin. As Bradley Campbell puts it, “(Public radio doesn’t) treat sports with the same amount of rigor that they treat, say, investigations, elements of politics, environment reporting . . . I see it lacking rigor, lacking reporting, and lacking story.”
And then, of course, there are the quotes. So frequently, quotes from athletes are embarrassingly simple and predictable. “Most athletes suck at giving interviews,” Bradley says. “They give such generic answers.”
Bradley knows. He’s a sports nerd and he’s filed a lot of sports stories over the years. Most recently, he was a reporter and producer for Gamebreaker, a new sports podcast from Audible.
Bradley’s really good at talking about the craft of audio storytelling. He’s been on HowSound before explaining story structure and how to produce quick turn-around pieces. So, he seemed like the exact right person to invite back to discuss producing rigorous, narrative-driven sports stories especially since — and I find myself surprised to say this — the stories on Gamebreaker are really quite good.
On this episode, Bradley dissects what works in a compelling story he produced about a high school football playoff where the underdog team employs an offensive move that nobody — repeat — nobody likes.
As an added bonus, here’s what Bradley has to say about interviewing taciturn athletes.