Brandon Shiffman’s and Spencer Stein’s Sports Podcast


Tune in to Pickup Sports Talk to listen to high school juniors Brandon Shiffman and Spencer Stein, who will entertain you and keep you hyper-current about everything sports. These two buddies spent years arguing about sports with each other, but they have recently turned those arguments into a popular podcast. Rather than let a good disagreement go to waste, Spencer and Brandon found a positive way to deal with their constant sports banter. Their arguments are so entertaining that they decided to record and broadcast them to the public. They now plan their sports arguments to coincide with what is now a bi-weekly podcast that has earned top reviews, is constantly growing its audience, and is keeping the two high schoolers even busier than your average stress-ridden Latin junior.

The show must go on, even if they are juggling a heavy course load, SAT prep, clubs, their own high school sports, and social lives. But they are fitting it in! The two friends of 15 years are now co- producers, co-anchors and co-writers of Pickup Sports Talk. Both lifers at Latin, they remember that they started playfully arguing about sports as far back as first or second grade. About a year ago, after a heated debate over who is the better all-time basketball great, Michael Jordan or LeBron James, they decided to record their opinions for what Spencer described as “bragging rights.”

Both Brandon and Spencer acknowledge that their biggest obstacle was actually starting the podcast—just sitting down and making themselves record it. But once they flipped the switch and turned on the mic, it was magic. In just over a year, they have recorded over 50 episodes. They have moved from strictly audio, to audio and video from Spencer’s living room, to a pretty real studio in Spencer’s basement. They added visuals with tons of sports memorabilia and presto! What used to be just an after-school teenage hangout is now a professional studio. Most significantly, they have shifted platforms from Spotify and Apple Podcast to YouTube.

Spencer explained that moving to YouTube was critical because the platform is better for a newer broadcast and to pick up new viewers. The good news is that the podcast is being received extremely well. “We were both somewhat nervous about showing it to our friends and family, but all of the feedback and ratings have been extremely positive,” Brandon said.

Junior Cameron Woan, impressed by his classmates, said, “Pickup Sports Talk gives me insightful analysis on my fantasy football queries.”

Luca Tricoci, another junior, said, “Pickup Sports Talk leaves me speechless. Great podcast, great editing, everyone should take a listen.”

“I love Spencer and Brandon’s sports talk,” said junior Alice Mihas, “I think it is a fun way to hear about sports, and I love how lively the podcasts are.”

Pickup Sports Talk has consistently expanded beyond their original listener base of just friends and family. “[Our] podcast is starting to grow rapidly, and we are gaining new listeners that we do not know personally with every episode,” Spencer said.

After getting past the initial launch, the next challenge was to focus on developing the audience and growing viewership. Brandon and Spencer are working everyday to grow their audience. “We don’t just gain listeners from YouTube or the podcast store,” said Brandon, “We both tweet frequently, and often, someone will find us on Twitter and then find our podcast. We are also hoping to begin advertising very soon.”

In deepening their repertoire in broadcasting, the two have learned that shorter, more bite-sized content can be just as effective as an actual podcast release. While they have been consistently reaping around 40 views per episode, the audience fluctuates between platforms. One way to increase this audience is to put shorter clips out to entice new audiences. Spencer said, “Our shorts or clips get anywhere from 10 to 75 views.”

Before the marketing and audience-building happens, first and foremost is the creative process. They have matured and adapted creatively over this past year. “Our process has evolved over time,” Spencer said. “During our first few episodes, we fully scripted our intro and outro and would even do a full run-through or two to prevent making a mistake on camera. However, as we have gotten more and more comfortable behind the microphone, the amount of scripted sections of the podcasts have gone down. We have been using the same Google doc since the beginning, and it’s super encouraging to see our progress over time.”

Both podcasters are willing to take risks, and they have tried out different approaches to content and format. “My favorite episode would have to be our recent NBA Predictions special,” said Brandon, who also shared that his favorite thing to do on the podcast is make predictions. “We recorded this only a day prior to the start of the NBA season, so all of our content was fresh. It was nice to only focus on one sport for an episode so we could stay on topic.”

Recently, Brandon and Spencer have started to bring on their classmates and friends to the broadcast to spice things up and allow their friends to share in the experience. They included some friends “to make quick predictions at the end, which added more perspectives and some comedic relief,” Brandon said, adding that they would continue to do so.

Junior Eli Goodman is a big fan of Pickup Sports Talk. Eli, who is a two-time special guest on the podcast, said, “Their fantasy football segment is very engaging to the listener. They are very welcoming to special guests.”

Junior Dylan Flohr, another special guest, has learned a lot about sports from the podcast. He said the podcast “helps me understand many different concepts having to do with many different sports.”

Again, developing content and planning out format and delivery takes time and discipline. “It takes a lot of time to edit the videos and post them, something we fully do ourselves,” Brandon said. “We also rewatch the videos and look for short clips, or as we call them pickups, to post on YouTube,.”

Now that the two have found their footing in content, format, and delivery, they have time to focus on the business end of their broadcast. While they do not yet have any advertisers, they are evaluating small partnerships with brands. Brandon said, “[We] are definitely looking forward to advertising other brands to our audience.”

When asked if they would ever consider selling the podcast, Spencer said, “Although we have not discussed selling our podcast yet, we agree it would be cool to be monetized, and as long as we can still be ourselves, use our same creative process, and have final say over decisions.”

While this tag-team has been together for as long as they can remember, high school is more than half way over, and listeners wonder if Pickup Sports Talk will survive the graduation of its hosts. It isn’t yet clear what will happen to the show when that happens. Spencer said, “We have definitely talked about taking this past high school. It is currently a matter of where we both end up for college. If we go to college together we would love to continue it for as long as possible.”

For now, this five-star duo is together and going strong. Pick them up at Pickup Sports Talk—they are a lot of fun and a great listen.