Podcast highlights: Howie Games starts 2020 with remarkable story

• Howie talks about his podcasting career

As Australia’s #1 sports podcast, PodcastOne’s The Howie Games is again ranked in the top 20 on the Podcast Ranker Chart for December.

Hosted by sports broadcaster Mark Howard, the series has started 2020 with a two-part interview with Fawad Ahmed.

Howard calls Fawad a wonderful man with a remarkable story:

Born in Pakistan, he always dreamed of playing cricket for his country of birth. That story was never to be, with Fawad leaving his homeland fearing for his life. Arriving in Australia, Fawad had his cricket dream…but precious little else. Seeking asylum, Fawad went through all manner of highs and lows, including a 10-month period where he went from playing cricket for Hoppers Crossing, a suburban team in Melbourne’s west, to playing for Australia! This is a story that defies belief.

Here is a feature first published at the end of 2018 where Mediaweek’s James Manning talks to Howie about his podcasting career:

Sports broadcaster Mark Howard got into podcasting several years ago after he secured an interview with F1 driver Lewis Hamilton for Network 10 during the Melbourne Grand Prix.

“The interview ran for over 20 minutes, but because of the time constraints on modern sports television we were only able to screen about five minutes of it,” Howard recalled to Mediaweek.

“I was very frustrated and told a mate there is close to 20 minutes of Lewis Hamilton that no one will ever see. He told me I should do podcasts with the people I get to chat with. Can you believe just two years ago I actually said to him, ‘What’s a podcast?’ ”

Howard knows all about a podcast these days.

Howard with Lewis Hamilton

The Howie Games has extended his relationship with PodcastOne in a new long-term agreement after more than 9.5 million downloads in his first year on the platform.

The very first podcast Howard ever did was with AFL commentator Dennis Cometti before a game of Friday night football. “I remember deciding on the podcast name in a rush. I was surfing in the morning and was worried about what I would call the podcast when I interviewed Dennis. I had to come up with a name and that was it. I maybe should have given it a bit more time.” [Laughs]

The first podcast he released however was an interview with Adam Gilchrist. Signing with PodcastOne makes sense for Howard as he’s been part of the wider SCA family for some time, working on sport at Triple M for close to eight years.

“I was working with a guy called Michael James who was also working at Triple M and we did the podcast by ourselves for a year which was a fantastic learning experience. We initially had no idea what we were doing and we had to produce it, publish it and then market it.

“A year ago PodcastOne came to us and asked if we’d be interested in joining their platform. Hopefully it’s been beneficial to both parties.”

Howard had to think hard about naming his favourite interview so far. “The one that probably made the biggest impression on me was an interview with Ricky Ponting before a Big Bash game last year. [Ponting and Howard were both working on 10’s coverage of the sport. Ponting now works for Seven while Howard is a key member of the Fox Cricket team.]

“He recounted the story of one of his children being pretty crook and he started crying. I grew up thinking Ricky Ponting was the toughest man in the world and to see him shed a tear as an emotional father sat with me a fair bit.

“The podcast out of the 50+ so far I most recommend to people is Jack Jones. He is now a 90+ former football who played for Essendon and helped them win premierships in the VFL. Before that he fought in Papua New Guinea and his recounting of the war is fascinating. He’s someone the average sports fan would have never heard of.”

Like many podcasters, Howie doesn’t over prep and write questions down. “I would rather react to what people are telling me rather than be thinking about the next question.”

One of his longer interviews was with Aussie F1 driver Mark Webber which went for two hours and was published as two parts. “There’s also an upcoming one with [Aussie NFL star] Ben Graham which is also two hours and we will publish as two parts.

“The best part of the process is chatting to these people and when you are speaking with Mark Webber and he’s happy to keep going I don’t want to stop him.”

Howard is one of the busiest people in sports media with AFL commitments with Triple M and a new cricket deal with Fox Cricket. However he noted recording podcasts is the favourite of all his media work. “The world of the long form conversation has started to disappear in my world.”

When Howard finished talking to Mediaweek he was off to speak to new Australian cricket coach Justin Langer.

Listen to The Howie Games here.

Top photo: Howard at work at Fox Cricket

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