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.
Know a podcast you’d like us to consider? Send an e-mail and we’ll add it to the audio pile.
Podcast: Know Them From Adam
Network: ESPN Audio
What Is It?: Adam Schefter, ESPN’s most active football insider, takes a few minutes away from his phone to have an in-depth conversation with an NFL guest.
Who’s The Host?: The NFL’s most noteworthy newsbreaker takes a column he used to write for the Denver Post and turns it into a podcastable conversation. Somehow, Schefter is able to get through these shows without mentioning “sources” or reporting any news.
What’s A Normal Episode Like?: There have only been four episodes (Note: a fifth episode was released on Jan. 31, but it was not included in this review) thus far, and they have all been longer-format interviews between Schefter and a guest. He opened up with Jerry Jones in an episode that felt more like PR than journalism. He talked a lot about Jones’ life and successes as an owner, and it sounded like he painted a “great man” narrative, treating his accomplishments as singularly achieved. That’s definitely not true, and while it doesn’t make the interview completely unlistenable, it does make it feel biased.
In the second episode, Schefter did a better job talking to Steve Smith Sr. about all of his accomplishments and his off-field work. It was refreshing hearing about Smith as a person instead of only his on-field accomplishments.
Episode three, with fellow ESPNer Chris Mortensen, was stronger, partly because of Schefter’s rapport with his guest but also due to Mort’s openness and willingness to share his story.
The fourth episode, a surprise Super Bowl special, was the best one yet. It was with Mike Lodish, a man who I have never heard of. Turns out, Lodish used to be a trivia answer as the only man to play in six Super Bowls. That record, of course, has been broken by Tom Brady. It was a shorter episode – not even half an hour – and it felt compact and brief. Despite Lodish repeatedly promoting his work for Next Link Communications and likely overstating his notoriety, Schefter stayed the course and got his guest to talk about other topics.
Future episodes will be released on Tuesdays.
Who Is It For?: While the show’s first three episodes have been football-related, I think the show is going to branch out to other sports. Aside from Schefter’s passion for the NBA, the show sounds like it will be comprised of guests who interest the host, which means they might not even stick to sports! So, yes, while, thus far, Know Them From Adam has been a football podcast, I consider it more of a human interest sports podcast, focused on telling the whole story about people we only watch on TV or in stadiums.
Who Is It Not For?: If you like Schefter for his constant news-breaking tweets, you won’t care for this show. He won’t give you any insights about the NFL, or sports in general, but Schefter’s guests will offer some fascinating anecdotes about their lives as people. While I appreciate that sentiment, I am sure some people do not care unless a player fights a kicking net or gets a DUI.
Can I Jump Right In?: While most sports shows have episodes with clear expiration dates, this show does not. Since it is about the people and not the games, episodes can be listened to well into the future. None of the first three episodes are going to be outdated anytime soon, though the Lodish one will probably go out of style soon after the Super Bowl.
What’s Not Great?: Not to compare Schefter to his NBA counterpart, Adrian Wojnarowski, but Woj had Adam Silver on his first episode. Sure feels like ESPN and Schefty wanted to counter with a big name of their own. Since Roger Goodell is such a disliked commissioner, they had to go with someone else. My guess is that ESPN pivoted to Jones, the biggest name and personality among the 32 NFL owners, though I would argue that episode disappointed overall. It did not sound like the other episodes, so I am going to throw it away as an outlier.
I think Schefter’s interview style is good, but flawed. It does not feel extremely conversational, which can cause some weird pauses and left turns during shows. Sometimes, the host gets too hung up on something that happens, like how he is going to orchestrate a meeting between Smith Sr. and CNBC’s Jim Cramer. I feel like talking so much about it on-air was unnecessary. While I am sure Schefter was not bragging about his impressive network, it came across like bragging because he actually started planning a dinner between he, Smith, and Cramer during the show! If I’m Schefter, I would mention knowing Cramer and say I’ll talk about details after the show before moving onto another topic.
With Mort, he jumped right into the cancer diagnosis, which I appreciate, but I also think that setup would be problematic for other potential guests with checkered pasts. They might get defensive and become less conversational on follow-up questions. In the Lodish episode, it was the guest that wasn’t great, with his constant repetition of Next Link Communications feeling like a “today is about honoring and supporting Qualcomm” moment.
So, Should I Listen To This?: After four episodes, I am still grappling with this question. Honestly, I would like this show more if Schefter’s guests weren’t all NFL or even sports-related. I think it’s good he’s not breaking news and I think his style would be good for getting listeners to buy in and meet someone they have never heard anything about. The closest to this hypothetical is Lodish’s episode, which, coincidentally, is the podcast’s best thus far.
Maybe I don’t like Jerry Jones because I’ve heard his voice too many times over the years, but I highly recommend skipping that episode. It left a bad taste in my mouth the other episodes could not get rid of. But, by themselves, the three newest episodes make for a solid start to a new podcast, a show that dives into the human interest side of NFL-related personnel.
If you know what you’re getting into, which is a different side of both Schefter and his guests, you will probably enjoy Know Them From Adam.
Bottom Line – TL;DR: He won’t be breaking any news, but Adam Schefter has himself a solid weekly podcast.