Shortly after arriving on campus in August, Reagan Griffin Jr. and Eddie Sun partnered with Julio Martinez to kick off “Hoop & Holler,” a weekly student-run podcast bridging the gap between sports, pop culture and social issues.
“The idea was in our archives for a good year,” said Sun, a freshman majoring in journalism. “When we both got in and got to campus, it was like, let’s get started.”
A continuation of informal basketball debates that began at a USC sports media summer program where the trio met as high school students, the “Hoop & Holler” group has held shows ranging from their “All-Decade” NBA lineups, debating the concept of “load management” — where healthy players sit out games to rest their bodies — and most recently more serious discussions on the tragedy involving NBA star Kobe Bryant.
“We have these conversations all the time. The only difference is we’re putting a microphone in our faces now,” said Griffin Jr., a freshman majoring in journalism.
The podcast is just one component of a sports media outlet — or “pseudo-blog,” as Griffin Jr. calls it — known as “SquareOne Media,” which the group uses to freely publish their own sports-related content.
The podcast itself consists of three co-hosts: Martinez, a sophomore majoring in communication, Griffin Jr. and Sun. Each episode, the trio takes on the hottest storylines in sports entertainment with discussion and analysis while attempting to maintain a healthy balance between the two.
“I think a lot of NBA content now is kind of clip-driven or drama-driven, and it’s not super substantive,” Sun said. “I think there can be a happy medium between hard-hitting analysis and entertainment commentary and I think [that’s] what we try to strive for.”
Miki Turner, an assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has worked with each of the show’s three hosts during the summer camp. In their time as students at USC, she said she saw their passion and knowledge on the topic during the summer camp successfully transition into their podcast.
“They give well-balanced, thoughtful, insightful commentary on what’s going on in the world of sports and I love to just see that continuing to grow,” Turner said.
She said the trio was able to maintain the quality of conversation throughout each subject they discussed.
“I’m just mad they’ve never had me on,” Turner said. “They’re very diligent in their research and they know what they’re talking about.”
The friendship that has developed between Griffin Jr., Sun and Martinez makes conversation flow smoothly while allowing room for thoughtful, more serious commentary when appropriate.
“We’re all friends — good friends,” Griffin Jr. said. “It’s pretty lax, but at the same time we like to put out good thoughts, ideas and things that people can actually take away and learn from.”
Sun poked fun at Griffin Jr. for his excessive note-taking in preparation for recording shows, as the pair explained each host has their own personal routine for show preparation.
“I’m a little more tedious with my notes and stuff,” Griffin Jr. said. “Eddie … already has his thoughts lined up already. And Julio is kind of somewhere in the middle.”
Not to be lost in the show’s light hearted nature is the diverse makeup of the production team, which, according to Turner, keeps conversations interesting and perspectives fresh.
“You’ve got a Black guy, a Latino and an Asian talking about sports,” Turner said. “Where else in America do you have that?”
As for the hosts themselves, they try to keep things as natural as possible.
“It’s just … something that we do on Fridays — it’s something that we enjoy doing,” Griffin Jr. said. “Something I like to say all the time is that we have these [basketball] conversations all the time.”
Sun said he believes fellow students should be proactive and get involved at USC, especially in Annenberg, which offers tools to create podcasts and live broadcasts.
“With the resources we have, it’s pretty simple to start it up,” Sun said. “If it’s something that people are interested in, there’s not a lot of hurdles to jump through. It’s just more about commitment than anything else.”
Turner said she believes the show’s ability to toe the line between professionalism and friendly banter makes the podcast unique and capable of reaching a much larger audience.
“They are having the time of their life,” Turner said. “This can go beyond their USC years … I think they have something that could become quite iconic.”