When it comes to gambling, there is a ton of sports content out there. Just think about the boom in podcasts and traditional media that cover the betting industry today. If you wager on football or March Madness, there is a good chance you consume some of that content. You might even have some media personalities that are your go-tos for pods or shows. However, behind the big media talent, you have the producers behind the scenes performing literal magic to make sure the show runs without a hitch.
Everyone in this business knows they are only as good as those they work with. But, like many others out there, I didn’t understand the full value of good production until I got into the industry. Once I started my own podcast and gambling show, I realized just how much work goes into what they do. Long story short, producers are important to the game, so make sure you appreciate them!
It was with this in mind that I decided to catch up with two of the best producers in the sports gambling space to talk about their experiences. Matt Mitchell and Sean Reynolds.
Matt Mitchell (MM) is the sole producer for all of Action Network’s podcasts, which right now are the Action Network Podcast and The Favorites Podcast.
Sean Reynolds (SR) currently produces Gaming Today’s Cash Considerations podcast. His past work includes producing the popular VSiN gambling show, Follow The Money with Mitch Moss & Paul Howard.
I asked the backbones of some of the best gambling shows and podcasts out there a few questions about their jobs and everything that comes along with it.
How much input do you have on the pod/ show topics as a whole before recording?
MM: Depends on the episode, but I provide a lot of input generally. My primary role is to be a surrogate for our audience. Like most of our listeners, I’m a prodigious sports gambler. I’ve bet on games about 360 days a year for the last decade. And our listeners are busy people, so I want to always be respectful of their time. I work to keep our content pointed towards “actionable” and away from “indulgent,” and I want to keep episodes from being any longer than they need to be.
SR: This can vary. I was way more active at the start in organizing the topics the guys sent over. Sometimes I would suggest something that may fit, like talking about Uncut Gems because of the gambling angle & Alan (Berg) being a big movie guy. Now, I pretty much look over what gets sent in and only correct if something is way off.
The biggest thing I try to maintain now is the timing. A podcast really shouldn’t be over 90 minutes for people to be willing to give it a shot when they scroll over it on a search.
When we first started the guys were running 3-4 hours at a time and I was telling them that was a detriment to getting a casual audience to check in.
Approximately how long does it take you to produce then later edit a show from start to finish?
MM: In total, we do 6 total episodes, resulting in about 6 total hours of produced content, released each week. Most of our episodes have pretty established templates now, so there are fewer hours of outlining on my end, especially while football season is in mid-swing. Those hours shift to our stable of hosts, who need to exhaustively research and prep for each episode as new slates of games are introduced.
In terms of the editing process, generally it takes about 2 to 2.5 minutes per 1 min of raw recording. So if our hosts record for 75 minutes, I know I’ll spend about 2.5 to 3 hours editing it. I would consider our shows highly edited, which includes things like audio clips and other drops to liven up the show, but also the removal of 90% of the “ums” and “uhs” to create a final version that’s as easy a listening experience as possible.
Turning one piece of content (a podcast episode) into as many other pieces of freestanding content as possible is an essential part of my job. It’s also a crucial promotional tool we need to maximize as we expand our audience at the rate of sports gambling’s legalization across the country.
SR: The editing process is the most arduous part of the show particularly because we added the video element when moving to Zoom. The export times for video are ridiculously longer than audio especially with the limited resources we have. The editing process can take anywhere from 2.5-3.5 hours post recording. The key to minimizing that is to take good notes during the show so you can time mark what needs to be cut as quickly as possible. If you’re attentive during the show, you make your editing process exponentially smoother.
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while recording or editing a show?
MM: We had a host who was feeling a little lightheaded during an episode he was recording in Colorado. As it turns out, he had gotten a case of elevation sickness and ended up throwing up in the middle of the show and almost passing out entirely. But he revived himself and finished the show like a true professional… and thanks to the joys of editing our listeners got to miss the entire ordeal!
SR: Probably the worst situation I’ve dealt with is a full on system crash. A router crashed at my home studio just as we were about to record the show with a big named guest and the delay in getting things back to operations threw off the timing so we lost the guest. That was the podcasting equivalent of Steve Carrell getting his chest waxed in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The next day Dave had his stroke. Were they connected? We may never know.
Name one thing that producers do that listeners of pods or viewers of shows have no clue about.
MM: One of the most important parts of my job is to make our hosts sound as good and as smart as possible, and for their conversations to sound natural. And, the beauty of audio is that you only take it in with your ears, not your eyes. So editing a conversation (rearranging sentences, removing portions, editing out a phone ringing or a dog barking, etc) can be done better and in fewer steps than editing in a visual format.
If I’ve done my job properly, the final edited conversation a listener hears should sound as if they’re listening to the raw recording. If you spend enough hours on a show it should sound like you spent zero hours on a show.
SR: I’d probably say all the prep work that goes into a show. Whether it is setting up the equipment and doing checks before the recording ever starts or doing site checks if a show was going on the road (Back when that happened). People take for granted that you just turn the mics on and it all works fluidly. That only happens because someone is making sure it’s all functional before you begin. I test my equipment that day of each show to make sure everything is operational and if it’s not, then I have time to run through a couple of remedies. At worst, I come up with a plan for what to do in the event something goes awry mid show, which can still happen even with the best prep work. The name of the game as a producer is to be Scar from the Lion King & Be Prepared. That’s probably the stuff that is most overlooked when people think about the podcasting or broadcasting industry.
What was your first job in the gambling industry?
MM: This is it! I worked the first 10 years working for marketing and ad agencies. Then I went back to school to get my masters and learn audio production. Even though they were a tiny start-up back in early 2018, I was dying to work at the Action Network. As someone who is passionate about sports betting and podcasts, I couldn’t imagine a better job existing anywhere in the world.
SR: First gig that was gambling specific was producing for The Las Vegas Sportsline on ESPN 1100 in Las Vegas. I had been producing for a little bit before then, but that was my first full time gig that was specific to gambling. I got to create a lot of fun imaging for Bad Beats and Bad Bets along the way on that one. Plus working with guys like Matt Youmans and Dave Cokin was like getting a college education in the industry. Some good times on that show.