There was a time where hearing the word "podcast" just made you think someone was about to get their body snatched. Nowadays we know it as the, relatively free, alternative to radio that covers specific topics of your interest that you can listen to anytime you'd like. In the next week we will be saying farewell to one of the Triangle's preeminent shows, the Riddick & Reynolds Podcast hosted by James Curle. Now before I go further, let me say I have never met James Curle and that our fearless leader Steven Muma probably has much more personal insight as a former host and recent guest on the program. Me, I am writing this strictly as a loyal listener and huge fan over the years.
If you rummage your way through the various podcasts on college football and basketball, statewide or nationally, you find a familiar tone. Radio ready voices, full of snark and a laser-like focus on the top programs/coaches of the day. Bottom dwelling teams' fans need not apply. The middle, where NC State most often resides, faces mostly soundbites, mocking, and hosts with just a peripheral knowledge of the teams' history & personnel. The podcast era has allowed teams' fans to get greater access to insight on their favorite squads. Most often run by fellow fans, the insight has a bias but also a highly respected, knowledgeable honesty on the state of one's program. This is ultimately what the Riddick & Reynolds Podcast did for us.
With a good laugh from the guys at Shutdown Fullcast or a lively discussion on CBS College Basketball Podcast, there was nothing I looked forward to more on my Tuesday commute than listening to James Curle and guests on the Riddick & Reynolds Podcast. Sometimes awkward in its delivery but always real in its content, the podcast would take a plain view of how our various programs were performing with that rare sense of optimism but also recognizing that NC State S*** lurked right around the corner. Each guest had a different tone and tenor regarding State but the passion was always there. It made you feel good to be a State fan knowing that there were those out there sharing your excitement and frustrations to the world.
After a big win, the joy in the discussion and in the audience at Amedeo's could be felt through your speakers. Every TOB (sniff) win over Carolina or with each of the trips to the Sweet Sixteen, there was so much fun in the recap of what happened and the hope of what was to come. When things went south, an NCAA loss in basketball/baseball or a tough showing in a bowl game you could recognize the empathy on the show. They felt what you were feeling. And when NC State S*** did show its ugly head you knew you weren't alone with your fist to the sky cursing that phenomena.
Not only was this podcasting gem simpatico with its fan-base but it brought guests and gathered insight you may not get from a mainstream source. Along with local sportswriters, guys like Steve Logan, Ernie Myers, Chris Corchiani & Jake Vermiglio were frequent, entertaining hosts, while Elliott Avent, Bobby Lutz and even Debbie Yow made appearances that proved to be memorable by virtue of how the interviews were handled.
You see, it always felt like more of a conversation than an interview. Often you'd have James breaking the ice early by asking guests to highlight their favorite Amedo's dish, allowing them to relax and feel more real in their discussions about NC State and the ACC. Notably, the guests seemed to genuinely enjoy being there and were given the comfort that allowed them to tell personal stories as well as analyze results of the latest games.
All this being said, without Riddick & Reynolds there will be a hole in the world, at least the world of NC State athletics. Backing the Pack often seemed to go hand in hand with R&R as both were critical of State yet also maintained a healthy optimism including the important quality of being able to laugh at yourself as a staple of their coverage. With the finale recording next Monday, if you haven't had a chance please take the time to search through the catalog on iTunes and find out what a void we will be left with. Just as we've seen the closing of Riddick Stadium & as we've said goodbye to the original Reynolds, we bid adieu to the Riddick & Reynolds Podcast for making us embrace the joy, the frustrations and the laughter that is being a fan of NC State University. Thank you.