One of our favourite things at Pod Bible is getting to talk to new podcasters about their shows and the topics that drive them to the medium. We had the chance to talk to Justin Salhani who, along with his co-host Hani Jaber, bring a whole new vibe to the football podcasting world. The Streets Will Remember is a conversation full of passion, disagreement, wonder, statistical info, and pure love, all of which is focused on the greatest players, managers figures ever to leave a lasting impact on the game. If you’re not a football fan when you start episode 1, you will be by the time you’re done; and you’ll definitely be a fan of the show’s charismatic hosts. Check out our chat with Justin:
POD BIBLE: So, how did you and Hani meet?
JUSTIN SALHANI: We met in college. I was captain of our university’s club soccer team (George Mason University). Hani had just moved to the U.S. from Dubai and was really innocent. I think we ruined him.
PB: Where does your passionate for football come from?
JS: For me, football is a vessel to better understand the world. It gives us a view into sociology, psychology, anthropology, morality, philosophy and so much more. I think Camus said it best: “After many years in which the world has afforded me many experiences, what I know most surely in the long run about morality and obligations, I owe to football.”
PB: How did you come up with the concept for The Streets Will Remember, and have you previously pursued a project similar to this in the past?
JS: During confinement Hani and I had more time to catch up. With the time difference, we don’t get to chat as much as we’d like. We were talking about projects we’d like to work on and I pitched Hani on the idea of doing a football podcast that was a bit different. It would let us ask the questions and dive into the stories I’ve always wanted to explore. I also think we could deconstruct a lot of the common talking points around football in general and certain personalities specifically.
PB: Why was a podcast the right medium for The Streets Will Remember?
JS: Is it? I don’t know. I know that by releasing our own podcast we can basically go as in-depth or in the weeds as we want. There’s also a rawness to our conversations that may not happen if we wanted to write these pieces.
PB: Do you produce and edit all of your own episodes, and if so, did either of you have audience experience previous to the project or did you learn as you went?
JS: I do all the producing and editing. I’ve used Audacity before so I had a little bit of audio editing experience. But as for the rest, we’re learning on the fly how to improve. Hani researched how to release the podcast and has handled the distribution and social media side.
PB: Why is now the right time for a project like The Streets Will Remember?
JS: It’s nice that you think it’s the right time! Our following is still very modest but I think if it does hit a chord with some people it’s because we’re expressing ideas that have been shared and discussed for years in certain sectors. People have been talking about inequality and structural societal forces for decades, but it’s rarely discussed in the mainstream of football. I think if anything, we’re just standing on the shoulders of those who have done hard work on those issues before us. And many of those are journalists who are women and especially journalists who are women of color who have already been speaking about these issues for a long time.
PB: The four episodes you’ve released so far seem very intentional. There is a racial and gender diversity amongst these four individuals that sets a tone for your audience; how do you decide who to speak about and is there a rationale behind the order of episode subjects?
JS: Football is very Euro-centric and while it seems it’s inevitable that our podcast won’t somewhat reflect that, we wanted to at least try to hit a wider range of figures. But we should also say that there are so many fascinating figures in football, if we were only focusing on the upper echelons of men’s European football it would be boring for us. Ultimately, we’re trying to do a project for our friends. Who would be fun for us to talk about and who would be fun for our friends to listen to?
PB: Do you listen to other sport-related podcasts?JS:
JS: I do. I have friends who run Stadio, Across the Pond and the Shirtless Plantain Show. Also The Sneak season 2 is sports-related and looks like it’ll be incredible. I listen into the Burn It All Down podcast when there is soccer/football related segments, though they’re great on all sports (I just don’t follow other sports!) I was also recently on Cas Mudde’s Radikaal which is a cool podcast if you’re into politics and how they connect to football. I’ll also suggest FTC United and I’ll tune into Tifo’s podcasts sometimes.
PB: Did you take inspiration from other podcasts, or other media in general, when creating The Streets Will Remember?
JS: Yeah, I mean, Chris Bowerbank from Across the Pond gave me some guidance and I’ve also just listened to him over the last two years that we’ve been friends talk about podcasting because he has so much knowledge. Chris’ charisma as a host and analyst is so rare.
Listening to their show over the last couple years provided me with a lot of knowledge. I’m also a big fan of Stadio, because it felt like the first podcast where they went deeper on certain issues. It felt like the kind of discussions I had with friends and I often had to remind myself that they wouldn’t pause to let me add my $.02.
There’s a lot of others too. Shireen on Burn It All Down speaks with such power and tells unabashed truths in a way I really respect and try to emulate.
I also listen to a lot of storytelling podcasts, news and interview podcasts on politics, race, music, pop culture and more + a handful of fictions ones. We wanted to take the best of both of these that we could create without doing a whole other level of sound engineering.
PB: Who did your artwork and what was the creative process for that?
JS: My partner, Carine, made this. Her and I discussed the direction we wanted to go for this podcast. I suggested something similar to street posters, something you might see plastered on a wall in a big city, but we already did that for a different project. The one thing we wanted was for it to not be too ‘soccer-y’. She knows I’m a fan of Jean-Michel Basquiat so she looked at his style of work as inspiration and created what we have now. She’s a very talented artist and designer.
PB: Finally, what is it that you love about football that makes you such passionate speakers on the topic?
JS: This is not an easy question for me to answer. I guess football is familiar and comfortable. It’s something I’ve always come back to no matter how many times I’ve tried to break. I have a complex relationship with football, but it’s ultimately a loving one. I think what I love about it carries so much complexity. It makes us question ourselves and we can face, if we chose to, a number of internal contradictions. How can I support a team while their shirt sports-washes a human rights-violating regime? How can I love a game where one of the most, if not the most, prominent figure is very likely a rapist? It’s a game that is constantly challenging and making me think. And there’s so much room for depth that is rarely explored. I think football can be as deep as you want it to be. Many people don’t want to explore those depths and that is a beautiful thing. But if you want to explore how society, race or personal ego is reflected by some of these athletes or figures, you absolutely can.