'Never Made Varsity' is a new podcast made by four Marching Tar Heels
What happens when a saxophonist, baritonist, trumpeter and a drum major from the marching band clash together? Perhaps the next hit sports podcast.
“Never Made Varsity”, which is now on its ninth episode, came together when bandmates Aaron Friedman, David Rivero, Maverick Hart and Colby Waddell decided to publicize their routine conversations about sports.
The podcast started off simple with the purpose of entertaining the producers themselves. But the four friends soon realized their own uniqueness.
“We bring a different perspective," Rivero said. "We’ve never made varsity but we are in the marching band, so technically we are required to be at all of these sporting events and watch them. We bring the kind of in-between experience of an athlete and a fan.”
The season of the Marching Tar Heels is only as long as the football team's. The band’s schedule is closely related with the performance of teams. When the football team wins, the band wins.
“We have a stake in it, too,” Rivero said.
As the podcast progressed, it soon veered away from just levity and banter. The group began to discuss the sports world in a larger scope. Waddell has enjoyed the transition to more substantial topics.
“We started talking about slightly more serious topics like the NFL protests that have been going on, Cam Newton’s comments, CTE, concussion and bigger issues,” Waddell said. "We need to start watching what we say because we have an audience and people listen to us.”
Social commentary regarding pop culture naturally follows from sports. What Maverick Hart enjoys is the ability of the podcast medium to facilitate respectful exchange of opinions. He recalls a bus ride when a fellow member of the marching band cited his opinion from the podcast.
“I love to hear what other people have to say about stuff, and people having the same conversations,” Hart said.
Through the podcast, the four friends engage more than just the listeners — they also discover unexpected things about themselves. Although the topics of a given day’s podcast are pre-arranged, the friends have no clue about what the other might say during the dialogue. The spontaneity makes the content attention grabbing and the experience rewarding.
“We brought up things that we thought we agreed on but actually thought completely differently about,” Rivero said.
Three of the four producers, however, are seniors. When thinking about why the podcast didn’t start earlier, confidence and technical difficulties originally derailed them. The seniors are therefore especially grateful for Aaron’s help, since he provides the technical skills to give the opinions their vocal life.
“I don’t know if I was comfortable to get on a mic and spout opinions until senior year. But now, I’m in that senior mode,” Rivero said.
The four friends are excited about the people who have reached out to offer help with theme music, editing and other tasks. As they have dinner together every Sunday night, just before recording, they dream of one day doing a live podcast at a bowl game, or continuing this weekly convening through Skype far off into the future.
As the graduation of three of its four members looms, the friends placed faith in their friendship and common passion. Aaron Friedman, the only non-senior, said he wouldn't change a thing about the group he's joined.
“I could find three different people but it wouldn’t be the same chemistry," Friedman said. "Even if the podcast doesn’t continue past this year, I know I’ll have three close friends forever.”
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