This is huge news in the world of podcasting. The long-time soccer-related podcast Football Weekly is losing its host James Richardson and its producer Ben Green, both of whom have been with the show since its inception. They are starting a new podcast called the Totally Football Show. Football Weekly is the gold standard in soccer podcasts and is one of the most listened-to sports podcasts in the world. While the loss of its lead presenter will not kill the show, it is a massive blow to the show and to its parent the Guardian.
The Guardian website launched Football Weekly in 2006 when podcasts were still downloaded onto your hard drive and then copied to an IRiver or other mp3 player, or perhaps burned to a CD-RW. The show was done with great production values and took full advantage of the podcast format, which was then still a raw and experimental medium. At its heart, like most good podcasts, it featured several intelligent, articulate, and humorous people talking about a topic that they loved and that listeners loved. Though well paced and smartly sequenced, the content was unscripted and felt very authentic.
Most great podcasts are driven by personalities. The Guardian's choice of English presenter James Richardson, known previously for hosting shows related to Italian football, proved to be a brilliantly successful choice. Known by fans as AC Jimbo, he was a bona fide expert as well as funny and an excellent presenter and he added many puns to keep it just a little light-hearted. Like many successful podcasts, Football Weekly established itself as a cosmopolitan show, which fits the potential worldwide audience of podcasts. Richardson's expertise on Italian soccer gave it a continental touch, and the show featured many international guests and which touched on soccer all over the world, despite a focus on the English Premier League. Regular contributors included Sid Lowe, and Spain-based expert of La Liga and Rafael Honigstein, an German football expert. Regular contributors also added coverage of Argentinian, Brazilian, Dutch, French, Scottish, and Russian football.
I have listened to every episode of Football Weekly and have often looked forward to them more than an actual match. Football Weekly is one of the podcasts that drew me into the medium. Now I listen to podcasts daily on a variety of subjects.
I will almost certainly follow Richardson to his new show, and continue to listen to the Football Weekly as well. I feel for the Guardian though. It's going to be tough to keep the show going. James Richardson was Football Weekly, and many of its listeners will simply migrate to the new show. The Guardian is a struggling old media company that is one of the most influential sources of independent journalism in the world. They supported podcasting when it was still a unproven medium and made it a great listen. Despite the Guardian's recent financial struggles, Football Weekly was a shining light of success. I hope they can continue it but it will depend a lot on finding an equally charismatic successor.