The internet radio world could do a lot worse than Scott Bass and Sam George. Each Wednesday, beginning November 2, 2005, Scott, Sam, and their guests have been on the Surfer Radio Show discussing surfing in the way that it’s been privately communicated for decades: by “talking story.” The difference now is that anyone with an Internet connection and/or an iPod can listen and even participate.
In the world where many podcasts are created in bedrooms by 14-year-old girls armed with a microphone and a couple obscure MP3s, the Surfer Radio show is surprisingly professional. It has intro music over-layed with dialog clips from movies like North Shore; “Hi, haole to you, too”; This is Spinal Tap’s classic, “If we need that extra little push over the cliff you know what we do?. . . eleven, exactly”; and the show-launching “I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn’t even know it” from Apocalypse Now. It’s got sponsors: they broadcast from “the H20Audio.com studios.” There’s a top five news stories feature. Scott even checks in every 10 to 15 minutes with a “you’re listening to In The Lineup”. Sure, some of it is cliche talk radio, but it puts listeners in the right place for a real insider’s discussion of surfing.
And discuss they do: listeners of the live show have three ways to participate. By Phone at (877) 792-7873, AIM: Surferradio, or email email@example.com. And each week (when they’re not broadcasting live from Jaime O’Brien’s front porch on the North Shore) Bass takes a handful of calls, emails, and instant messages from listeners. And that takes some pretty solid juggling skills. But, Scott Bass is good. He’s refreshingly honest with his opinions and repeatedly seems to ask the right questions, steering his guests into giving insightful answers. And in the month of December 2005 he’d had some pretty heavy guests: Bill Bahne, Robert August, Gary Linden, Pancho Sullivan, Jeff Divine, Jaime O’Brien, Braden Dias, Mark Healey, and Bernie Baker.
Hearing Jeff Devine joke that he has “notified immigration officials” on all the foreign photographers working on the North Shore, or catching Robert August brushing off stand-up paddle surfing as just another thing people can be into are moments the average surfer never gets to hear.
Sports talk radio has done this for years, but we’ve never had something like this in action sports. While some may argue that this (along with live contest Internet feeds) is just one more example of the arm-chairification of surfing, you know what? It’s fun to listen to and participate in.
Listening to Scott Bass and the crew reminds me of everything that was right about talk radio before it became over-the-top sensational politics and craziness: when it was people sharing thoughts with an audience a little bigger than their circle of friends. Surfer Radio is an hour and a half of “talking story” on a global level and it’s something that has been missing from Surf media for quite some time.
If you haven’t listened yet, do it this week. You can listen live on the Surfer Magazine website Wednesday’s at noon PST, or click here to download recent podcasts from the Apple iTunes store.