Welcome to Should I Listen To This?, where we deep-dive into a podcast to find out what it’s about, what works, what doesn’t, and whether or not you need to make the all-important decision to hit subscribe and add it to your rotation.
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What Is It?: It gives a behind-the-scenes look at a rarely examined portion of NBA life, the road trip. A podcast about the life and lifestyle of NBA players, it’s not necessarily a podcast about the NBA.
Who’s The Host?: Fox Sports Ohio’s Allie Clifton hosts the podcast, attempting to keep structure alongside NBA journeymen Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson. Clifton has a professional rapport with the players, so she does not sound at all intimidated working alongside them. Cavs Spanish radio voice Rafael Hernández Brito also pops in from time to time.
What’s A Normal Episode Like?: Don’t let the host description confuse you: this is a journey into the world of Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson. There’s even a segment devoted to Snapchat, Jefferson’s social media platform of choice.
Jefferson and Frye interview one of their teammates, but they do it casually. These are friends talking to each other and the microphones just happen to be on. This is a look into the players as people, something too many in sports media forget. Whether it is 20 minutes of LeBron James shooting the shit with his teammates on a flight or Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love showing off their fun sides, episodes are both lighthearted and funny.
Clifton tries to reign everyone in, but she usually fails in this regard. When Frye and Jefferson joked about the “trash” Kevin Love/Carmelo Anthony trade rumors with Love himself, they started discussing the type of bun her hair was in. A couple minutes later, the three talked about their Pac-10 pasts, malls, and Frye answering a solicitor. Then came an aside about girl scout cookies. While plenty will argue the show could be more focused, I think it is all over the place in a good way.
Who Is It For?: While, yes, this show is hosted by two Cleveland Cavaliers players and the team’s sideline reporter, and, yes, the guests thus far have been Cavs teammates, this show is for more than just Cleveland fans. It’s a show for NBA fans who want to hear from players unfiltered and uncensored. No canned quotes or “talk about” questions here.
Who Is It Not For?: It’s not for people who think of players as NBA 2K robots without a personality, or for people who only care about statistics and metrics. Also, if you’re not familiar with Cleveland, both as a city and a culture, some of the references might go over your head. It isn’t many, though I am sure I would notice if Boban Marjanovic and Beno Udrih had a show and talked a bunch about Auburn Hills locales.
Can I Jump Right In?: While episodes four and five are two halves of a conversation with Kevin Love, the first three (and episode six) are complete packages. Other than that, you can jump right in. I would even argue shows have a long tail because they focus on the guests more than the road trips themselves. Sure, a few minutes on the Super Bowl will get dated quickly, but most of the show isn’t based around recapping/previewing a game or event.
What’s Not Great?: In a couple of episodes, the show’s audio quality has been horrendous. The first episode was almost unlistenable based on sound quality alone, while another episode, which was recorded from the team plane during the flight, didn’t sound much better. That said, when Clifton and co. can find a hotel room (I’m assuming) to record in, the audio quality is not an issue.
Also, as I mentioned before, the jumpiness of the show is not for everyone. Jefferson and Frye even told listeners to replay the show because they might miss things, but not everyone has time to listen to a podcast once, let alone multiple times.
So, Should I Listen To This?: When it comes to NBA player podcasts, I am not sure if Road Trippin’ is better than The Vertical Podcast with JJ Redick. But only one of these shows is releasing new episodes, so that might give Frye and Jefferson a slight lead (sorry, JJ!). These shows are both high-quality efforts from NBA players who could definitely have second careers as broadcasters, if they so choose.
I am glad the audio issues seem to be fixed, because that was my only personal issue with the show. I have a dog/squirrel mind, so the topic jumps don’t bother me.
If you, like me, are a fan of the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers (did someone say 3-1?), this show is a must-listen. It’s like The Players’ Tribune without the ghostwriting or a conversational and long-form equivalent of Uninterrupted.
If you’re not a Cavs fan, you should still give the show a chance because Jefferson and Frye are fun dudes who tell a bunch of stories about their NBA careers.
Bottom Line – TL;DR: Two NBA journeymen dick around with the mics on and it’s a semi-chaotic laugh factory.