Student-produced sports podcast gains popularity

Parker Hendricks (left) and Ben Stevenson (right) work on their own sports podcast, which has gained popularity among coaches and fans.

Talking sports has always been a beloved pastime for UNA students Ben Stevenson and Parker Hendricks, who use social media sites, like Twitter, to express their opinions. The pair often found themselves chatting back and forth about sports on the Internet, until they decided to take the discussion a step further with their own digital podcast.

After exploring different sports podcasts online and looking into how to create one of their own, Stevenson and Hendricks made the decision to test it out last October.

The podcast they now run 1-2 times each week is called Shoals Sports Talk, and it has already grabbed the attention of a number of prominent athletics officials in the area.

Hendricks and Stevenson discuss a variety of sports topics with each podcast they record and produce, but always try to include opinions concerning UNA athletics. Hendricks said the podcast exists because they love sports and sharing their insights with other athletics fans.

“This is one of those things that we enjoy doing regardless of whether or not people listen to (the podcast),” he said. “We do it because it’s something fun to do and because we like sports.”

Hendricks, an Alabama fan, and Stevenson, a Tennessee fan, enjoy sharing conflicting opinions on sports, and often have fans act as guests on each episode. They also feature call-in segments from Shoals Sports Talk listeners.

Stevenson and Hendricks record the podcast from a spare bedroom in Hendricks’ home using two headsets, two computers, a microphone and recording software. They said the podcast is a “no-thrills” production, but they are looking to websites like UStream, which would allow them to record live video at athletics events in order to be more interactive with their audience.

“With the podcast, if you want to get involved, you can,” Stevenson said. “If you send us a message, you’re going to get a shout out. It’s cool to know people in this community are listening because we like to keep (the podcast) close to home.

“We’re talking national sports, but also UNA sports. Very few other things like this in the area have full segments on UNA.”

So far, Shoals Sports Talk has gotten positive feedback from both UNA and Shoals communities. Stevenson said UNA assistant baseball coach Matt Hancock and head basketball coaches Terry Fowler and Bobby Champagne have praised the student-run podcast. Other fans who have expressed interest in the podcast come from areas such as Florence, Auburn, Washington and Florida.

Stevenson is a secondary education and social science double major and graduate of Sparkman High School. His aspiration after college is to become a teacher and baseball coach.

Hendricks is a sports management major and graduate of Brooks High School. He plans to finish at UNA in July and attend graduate school next fall in order to someday work in a collegiate athletic department.

Hendricks, who works for the Department of Athletics at UNA, and Stevenson, who was manager for the UNA baseball team for four years, have connections to UNA sports officials. They said several UNA coaches are hoping to make guest appearances on the podcast in the future.

Listeners can interact with Hendricks and Stevenson through Facebook, where they post questions and ask for opinions on a number of sports topics. To listen to past episodes of Shoals Sports Talk, visit