GG discusses podcasting with Dave Meltzer for Wrestling Observer Radio and gives a bit of an origin story of how it happened.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of what I want to do with these posts, I’m going to go into a long background story. And I mean long.
I started doing podcasts with Dave Meltzer for F4WOnline/Wrestling Observer some time in 2018. I had just moved back to San Jose after living in Gilroy (about 20 miles south) for 14 years. I had one kid in college and another kid who was a junior in high school. All of a sudden, I had so much time on my hands that I didn’t know what to do with.
Bryan Alvarez was in town for the New Japan G1 Special in the summer of 2018. To me, he’s the most influential person in wrestling podcasting history. I’m sure there were others who were doing shows before him. But I don’t remember wrestling websites looking at podcasting or “radio shows” as they used to call them, in the same way they do today before Bryan went 100% in on the audio. He created a studio in his home, studied sound engineering, and was near obsessive about his audio quality.
Around the same time, my podcasting partner and friend John LaRocca and I had started to get more into our show, the Fight Game Podcast, which I had just re-branded from the old FGB Radio.
(As a quick aside, I started doing actual podcasts as far back as the mid-2000s, but because it was just a fun hobby, and distribution wasn’t all that easy, I would just post them here on this website and that was it. Folks like Jason Hagholm and Big D were partners who I really learned the craft with. Both guys are still doing well with the medium. Jason does announcing including MMA and Big D created a hugely successful YouTube channel called Geekdom 101 which has 665,000 subscribers. But, I just did those old shows for the repetitions. They weren’t ready for primetime and outside of a few that are still out there, they’re all gone.)
Back to Bryan. I told him that I was getting the itch to do more podcasting, and now, I had the time to really study it and put forth the effort. Distribution was also much easier. I have a Radio/TV broadcasting degree from San Jose State University and worked at the biggest sports station in the Bay Area, KNBR 680, while in college and for a short time after I graduated. I’ve always loved the medium.
His warning was that if you go in head first, you’re going to get sucked in. And he was right. There’s so much equipment out there from microphones (dynamic or condenser) to mixers to audio interfaces like the Scarlett 2i2 from Focusrite, to new ways to record audio with people through VOIP, though with a subscription fee. It’s expensive.
But he also meant that you’re going to get the bug. And John and I have the bug. I’m constantly planning our show. Even though we’re still in the early stages of our podcast, we’re now on the Blue Wire Network. We’re fine with being the low people on the totem pole too. There’s only one way to go from there.
Bryan knew that I could help him out by doing shows with Dave. It would give him some of his time back and since I was already close geographically to Dave and had a lot of newly free time myself, Dave’s crazy night schedule wouldn’t be an issue. I looked at it as a paid internship where I could not only learn so much more from Dave, but also learn more about the audio side of things from Bryan.
I don’t know how many shows I did with Dave over the last year and a half, but to me, the key to the shows that I thought were the best was preparation. You’re never going to out-knowledge or out-study Dave. Hell, his Observer newsletter was where I learned most about wrestling and MMA. But I could still be as up to speed as possible, getting him to think about a certain topic in a slightly different way, maybe using an analogy outside of the MMA or pro wrestling world to change the discussion.
And from a technological end, I could help connect him with people he wanted to do shows with, but couldn’t unless Bryan was also available. We talked to Chris Jericho a couple of times, Kazuchika Okada at the AXS studio at LA Live, Hiroshi Tanahashi, flew to Las Vegas to interview Kenny Omega and Tony Khan, did shows with such smart and savvy people like Mike Tenay and Jerry Jarrett, and many, many others. Sometimes, I was just a producer. But Dave wanted me to ask questions too.
Those shows were fun, but if I had to pick my favorite shows, they are the shows where I just get to pick Dave’s brain about the business. That’s what I’m most interested about. While I still love watching wrestling and MMA, what fascinates me most are the business aspects about both sports.
So after that long intro, we’re back to the audio portion of the show that we did last week, which I embedded at the top of this page. The segment that was chosen for the YouTube video at the F4WOnline YouTube channel wasn’t my favorite segment of the show, which you can listen to in full if you have a subscription, but it’s the type of discussion I love having with Dave.
He had just finished writing the newsletter the night before so the topic was fresh on his mind. I had just finished reading that portion of the newsletter and had written out some topics/questions that I would try to fit in, but really, no matter how you script it, you let it go where it takes you. I may not get to all the things I want to ask him about, or I might get through them all quickly and then have to think of more on the fly.
I generally create what you would call a show rundown. Dave and I discuss key points to hit whether it’s about news, or something he’s written that he wants to flesh out on audio. This just gives me direction so that we have a specific order to the show. Dave always wants to talk the most important news first, so I make sure to keep those topics at the top based on what I think are most important. And then we just go.
In the clip above, we’re mostly talking about things that stood out to him on the earnings call from the day prior and WWE’s prospects as a company. We also talked about XFL and their ability to land a TV deal to continue the league after three years. The new TV/streaming model makes it feasible and it’s also why AEW Dynamite exists today.
If this was interesting to anyone, I may do more where I take the YouTube segments and write small “behind the scenes” pieces about old #WOR podcasts that I’ve done with Dave. It’s been a fun ride so far.