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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Two really good, very different podcast hosts

I spend almost as much time listening to football podcasts as I do listening to proper radio. There are two I never miss. Football Weekly from The Guardian and The Game from The Times. Essentially they both cover the same things: what just happened at the weekend and what might happen over the next weekend. Football has the ideal rhythm for podcasting.

I'm interested in the contrasting styles of the two hosts. Football Weekly is anchored by James Richardson. He supplies geniality and warmth, qualities which might otherwise be in short supply. With the honourable exception of Barry Glendenning, the Guardian's pundits are a bit short on common man breeziness, as you'd expect from people who spend so much time working out the number of "assists" players have provided and give the impression that since England is, when all's said and done, a bit of a disappointment they would really rather be watching football in Italy.

The Game, on the other hand, is anchored by Gabriele Marcotti, who is anything but genial. In fact he might well be the most argumentative man in audio. Presumably the producers had to give him the presenter's job because otherwise he would overwhelm the others by dint of his great erudition and deep-seated desire to have the last word. So determined is he to prevail that in each podcast he lapses into a voice which is supposed to represent the man on the Clapham omnibus. He does this purely so that he can dismantle the man's arguments with a few savage strokes of his football intellect. It's like something out of Samuel Beckett.

They both work really well in their different ways because they both understand that the thing that matters most in podcasting, as in radio, is energy. If these presenters weren't there in their playmaking role the rest of the contributors would probably just sit there looking at each other.