When MTV’s hit show Baskets debuted in 2003, the sports world was awash with sports talk radio stations.
Basketts host Rick Harris had just been hired by ESPN, and he was trying to figure out how to turn his show into a new kind of sports news show.
The station needed to fill its audience with new listeners.
But the idea of a sports talk show wasn’t new.
When it debuted in 2004, The Sports Show with Dan Patrick and Mike & Molly, a talk show from NBC, was the best-selling show on the network.
And the best selling show on radio was a talk radio show from a local station.
But that wasn’t enough for Harris, who thought BaskETS needed to be a different kind of show.
“The idea of the sports talk shows was just really, really appealing,” he says.
“It was like, ‘Why don’t we take a different approach to sports and do a different thing?'”
After a few years, Harris started producing podcasts.
Bayshow became the network’s first sports talk podcast.
It lasted from 2004 to 2006.
But when Harris and his crew realized BaskETs audience wasn’t ready for sports talk, they tried to get rid of it.
“We were just really tired of the fact that people were just listening to sports on ESPN every day,” he recalls.
So he went to his boss and pitched the idea that he was going to bring the sports content back to the show.
Harris was convinced that the sports audience didn’t want sports talk anymore, but he also knew it was a niche audience that was ready for more.
And he was convinced it could be a new source of revenue for the station.
So Harris hired a bunch of sports journalists from around the country.
His idea was to put them together to produce a sports content show that would appeal to the sports fan base.
But, he admits, it wasn’t exactly easy.
“I remember being like, you know, it’s not going to be easy,” Harris says.
He remembers having to fight with the stations and with advertisers about whether they would be willing to pay for his sports content.
He says he was worried about his career.
“This is what we have now, and I don’t want to be here,” he told the stations.
But he says he didn’t think he was a bad fit.
“When I think about how much money the networks make, and how they are going to make money, I’m thinking, ‘How are we going to get them to buy our content?’
I just thought that this is a great way to build that,” Harris said.
“That’s when I knew, ‘This is the future of sports talk,'” he says, and the show was born.
It wasn’t long before the stations were listening to Harris’ show and asking, “Hey, why don’t you come back and do this for us?”
After a couple of years of success, Harris was ready to return to his passion, producing more sports content on the station, and Baskett was born in January of 2008.
And while it’s easy to forget that Basket started as a podcast, Harris remembers the time it took to build the show and launch it.
His first day on the job, he says there was a line at the door, and everyone was like “This was supposed to be your show.”
Harris says he went in, but it wasn