To say this has been an unprecedented year for the team behind Football Ramble Daily would be an understatement. As listenership has continued to increase through the football season, the Stakhanov production has implemented a number of successful initiatives to cement themselves at the forefront of the sports podcasting landscape worldwide.
With four hosts and two extra collaborators filling out last season’s roster of three weekly shows, June 2019 saw a monumental change to the show’s output. The Football Ramble became Football Ramble Daily, with a whole new roster of shows and hosts for listeners to enjoy. Three shows a week became six – with bonus episodes being continually rolled out throughout the season – and their group of hosts expanded, as established broadcasters Jules Breach and Jonathan Wilson joined the fold alongside frequent collaborator Andy Brassell.
This presented a unique opportunity to adapt their shows, honing in on their unique strengths. The irreverent and light-hearted Ramble shows remain, as does their European sister show On The Continent. The team also added interview shows, with ‘Ramble Meets…’ and ‘Fantasy Five-a-side’ rounding out the Wednesday releases and ‘The Blizzard’, where expert guests relive a classic match of their choosing, filling the Saturday slot.
One show that has enjoyed real success as it continually hones its output is ‘Jules & Andy’, where Jules Breach and Andy Brassell present a magazine-style, considered look at the week’s overarching football stories. It offers a broader look at stories beyond the regular ninety minutes on the pitch, drawing on the unique expertise of both hosts.
As September 2019 arrived, attention soon turned to writing and preparing Ramble Live 2019, the live show tour featuring the four original Football Ramble hosts. The 19-date tour took them all over England and across the east coast of North America. The hosts advertised the tour on Football Ramble Daily episodes, as well as during guest appearances on a variety of other radio networks, while a tailored mix of organic and paid social media advertising encouraged listeners to buy tickets.
The crowd was in fine voice throughout and made the hosts feel as if they’d never been away. Jim Campbell remembers even the tiny nuances getting cheers of appreciation:
“Things would get laughs, or get a cheer of recognition, that we just say among ourselves. They’re just phrases we use that aren’t even supposed to be jokes, but they see what the audience what our listenership has picked up on. You feel like they really know us well.”
The North American shows proved the most humbling of all, with fans traveling thousands of miles or rearranging international trips to be there. Listeners came with gifts from their hometowns, or with pieces of Football Ramble memorabilia from years gone by. This momentous run of American shows was a first for a UK-based football podcast.
As 2020 came, the network continued to put out the varied range of shows their listeners continued to enjoy. From ‘At The Match’ specials full of on-location audio from some of the biggest matches in German football to interviews with British radio royalty like Mark Pougatch and Dotun Adebayo, the network enjoyed immersing itself in a wealth of football stories.
That was until the middle of March where, as the media landscape and the entire nation enters unprecedented territory amidst the impacts of Covid-19, a change of approach was needed. The entire Stakhanov office switched to remote working to remain in line with government advice and to establish remote recording facilities. The move has proved largely seamless, as shows are still being released to their regular schedules and remote recording equipment has been sent to hosts across all of Stakhanov’s shows. Naturally, the suspension of world football was an alarming development, but Football Ramble Daily still has ample to discuss. The time-sensitive shows have taken on a slightly different feel, as updates of the volatile situation within the game are mixed with less time-sensitive, often nostalgic content.
This has allowed the show to serve a purpose beyond updating its listeners of the current climate; the network’s shows have become a place for people to escape the worrying times for forty-five minutes or so and enjoy irreverent discussion about something else. To that end, the recently expanded Patreon offering has proved a huge hit. As well as allowing listeners to financially contribute to Football Ramble Daily in these trying times, it has fostered an even deeper connection with the listeners. The platform lets listeners sign up for a wide range of bonus content exclusive to the platform, from extra weekly podcast episodes to behind-the-scenes vlogs from the various hosts.
Clearly, continuing a successful football podcast network in a time of cancelled sport and no public gatherings is not an ideal situation, though Football Ramble Daily have adapted their output to suit the times and it remains an enjoyable, irreverent and often heartfelt listen. Click here to listen to the show, or search ‘Football Ramble Daily’ in your podcast provider.