How often have you listened to a sports radio talk show and thought to yourself, "How hard can that be?" Anyone can sit around and talk sports, right?
Well, it's not as easy as it might seem, but that didn't stop Lisle's Jonathan Platek and Downers Grove's Rich Kraetsch from creating their own sports talk show. The show is called 643 Sports, the name coming from the baseball scorebook shorthand for a classic 6-4-3 double play.
The Downers Grove North graduates began broadcasting their sports analysis and opinions back in October 2007 over BlogTalkRadio.
BlogTalkRadio is the social radio network that allows users to connect quickly and directly with their audience. Hosts can create free, live, call-in talk shows using an ordinary telephone and computer with unlimited participants. The shows are then automatically archived and made available as podcasts.
For Platek and Kraetsch that network has allowed them to continue a passion for sports that sparked the friendship they developed in high school. They both were sports enthusiasts and listened religiously to sports talk shows.
When the opportunity presented itself to start a show of their own they jumped in head first.
"It's really neat, and Rich and I got into it because for a while we had been listening to sports radio," Platek said. "We have a favorite show that we listen to on 670-AM (The Score) and we just always talk about it. We are big (Terry) Boers and (Dan) Bernstein fans. Rich found the Web site that lets you do pretty much a radio show, but on the Internet, and that's how we got our start."
Today Platek, 21, is a senior political science major at the University of Illinois. Kraetsch, 21, is a senior majoring in Communications Art, with an emphasis in sports communications, at Benedictine University in Lisle.
The two of them are able to do their show every Monday at 7 p.m. from the comfort of their own rooms, despite being 150 miles apart. The 90-minute live show, or the archived shows, can be accessed by going to blogtalkradio.com/643Sports.
Neither host has any plans of abandoning the weekly sports talk show any time soon, but Platek would like to go to law school. Kraetsch, on the other hand, sees sports broadcasting as a career choice.
"That's mainly one of the reasons I wanted to start the show," Kraetsch said. "I said we were just chitchatting about sports all the time anyway with out friends. Why not do it on a level where I can record it and introduce it to the point where if I ever need to do it on a job, I can do it?"
The talk team has put together an impressive archive of weekly shows, and celebrated their first anniversary last October. Kraetsch sees benefits from the experience even if he never gets into sports talk professionally.
"It's made me a better public speaker," he said. "Definitely from listening to early shows I've become more comfortable with my voice. When we first started, if you listen to our original shows, we were doing a lot of mumbling and we were kind of scared. Now if you listen to our show it's smooth."
The 643 Sports hosts openly admit they pattern their broadcast style after their radio heroes, Boers and Bernstein. They strive to be funny, knowledgeable, topical and professional. As college students they realize they appeal more to a younger audience, but aim to please sports fans in general.
"We appeal more to the 18-24 group, but that's not really who we're going for," Platek said. "We just want everybody."
Their show is no fly-by-night operation, although it is just the two of them serving as both production and support staff. Sound effects, quotes and highlights are regularly interjected to keep the conversation moving, as well as entertaining, but always sports related.
With no FCC oversight on Internet talk, an occasional curse word might slip into the mix, but they have made a conscious effort to limit such language to maintain a professional standard.
With a marketing budget of zero, there are also no advertising revenues or ratings to be concerned with, although Platek and Kraetsch always know the size of their audience.
"BlogTalk keeps control of that pretty well," Platek said. "So after the show Rich and I always look at our listener numbers. They keep track of everybody that tuned in, or clicked on the link and went to our page during show time. They also keep track of people that listened to some of our archived shows when we weren't on the air."
They spread word of their program to their friends, and in their classrooms, in hopes of building up a larger listener base.
"We would like it to be better," Platek said. "But in the end it's just Rich and I doing it because we love to do it."