College Students Launch Sports Podcast

PHOTO/Michael Kelly – Tom Liesse and Jack PHOTO: Michael Kelly – Tom Liesse and Jack Fiddes prepare for the recording of The Fact With Waffles Kelly.

Dane Parkhurst – ICC Harbinger

Peoria, IL – Three college students have started a podcast covering a wide array of sports topics, which is available on the streaming website, SoundCloud.

Bradley student Michael “Waffles” Kelly is who the podcast is named after. ICC student Tom Liesse and former ICC student Jack Fiddes are the two other collaborators. Kelly’s nickname has been a joke amongst friends since grade school.

“When I was in eighth grade, I was running late for school. So, I just toasted a bunch of frozen waffles and stuffed them into the inside pocket of my coat, which I still don’t think was very weird no matter what Jack tries to argue. I was kind of just munching on them throughout the morning, but everybody in the class knew what I was doing and one of my teachers just started calling me Waffles. The nickname stuck and now I’m Waffles to pretty much everyone,” Kelly said.

The idea for a sports podcast was sparked by Liesse, who had previous experience doing a show for a class at ICC.

“Tommy had talked about his previous experience doing a podcast but wanted to be able to reach a broader audience with a sports centric podcast and co-host with people he had better chemistry with. He tweeted that he was looking to start a podcast and I had the idea for me and Waffles to come on and be the co-hosts,” Fiddes said.

The trio have been friends since high school at Notre Dame, which has made their new venture in podcasting come naturally.

“I’ve known Mike my entire life since we have mutual family members, and I’ve had interaction with Tommy since junior high although we did not become close until high school. Both of those guys are like brothers to me, which makes hosting the show with them super easy since so much of our content is improvised,” Fiddes said.

There is no shortage of sports talk in the vast stream of podcasts in today’s technologically driven world. This crew has aspirations to provide something unique.

“I believe that people should have a sports news outlet that focuses on the sports and the athletes rather than the politics and side stories which we see taking precedence at the major national sport news companies,” Liesse said.

The podcast is off to a buzzing start, racking up over 700 listens on the first ten episodes. They made the switch from one podcast a week to two, which allowed them to shorten the podcast and make it more listener-friendly.

“The goal in moving to two episodes a week was to make it more convenient for the listeners. Our first few podcasts were each around an hour long, which is kind of a common run-time for a lot of pods. We wanted to do something different to give our listeners an easier experience,” said Kelly.

“Also, it gives us the opportunity to have one podcast recapping events that happened over the weekend and one podcast previewing what will be happening the next weekend. It allows our content to be more relevant and we get to cover things a little more in depth. It also gives us leeway with time which we get to fill with some fun, entertaining bits that show our personalities more,” said Liesse.

The Facts podcast gained a sponsorship after their second week, which has added a whole new aspect to the show. Local business Iron Athlete Gym contacted the three to talk about supporting the show. The two entities brainstormed and came up with a segment, The Iron Athlete Prep Player of The Week.

This segment allows fans of the podcast to vote on the best area high school athlete from the past week via Twitter polls. The winning student athlete receives a free week membership at the Iron Athlete Gym, which trains local athletes to perform at their highest potential.

“Our buddy Adam Wasson owns the gym and he hit us up about the sponsorship. We were stoked about it because we already discussed wanting to cover prep sports in the area and it was just a great opportunity to start building connections,” Kelly said.

Moving forward, the crew hopes to gain more listeners in the Peoria area. Expanding not only their listener base, but their content as well.

“Our future is very bright as we are looking to expand the content we are creating to videos and articles. I really think that there is no ceiling for what we were doing since we have already gained so much traction so early on,” Fiddes says.

“Long-term, I guess it would be cool to possibly expand into things beyond sports, like music and movies. I have a lot to say about the first two Shrek movies; I think Peoria wants to hear it,” Kelly said.

The podcast also has social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, which allows fans to interact with photos, videos, and voting polls.

The podcast’s Twitter can be found at @TFSports309, and the Facebook can be found by searching TFSports309.

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