250 the untold story

Five years ago a couple friends and I had an idea of starting an MMA show with the audacious goal of getting it on the radio - which seemed insane at the time. I love podcasts, but felt that this was a sport and a product that deserved to get out via a mass medium along with the passionate fan-base that comes along with podcasting to create an MMA community that we wanted to hangout with and talk fighting.

At that time, it was a much different show with around 6 people (bad idea) trying to fill the 45 minutes we were given out of the gate, we started after UFC 100 and really had only a "nugget" of an idea of what to do. Guys like C Bryan, Brad Dennis, Paul Cicchini, Mike Allen, + Joe Teague, were all part of that first launch and in that first year some of those shows were just terrible, but to quote Hemingway, "the first version of anything is shit." So, we pressed on through the first year doing shows we wanted to do, mistakenly talking to local fighters and promoters which was something we would decide never to do again after the first year and stuck to it. That decision ultimately was mine, it came from an event I did at a bar in town where they held an event on a summer night and to get people to come, sponsored the show - but as the sun faded and it got cooler, the cage floor got wet and the main event ended when one of the fighters broke his own arm walking to meet his opponent, we fired the client and never took another one.

As the second year started we found our way into some of the larger events and even started talking to some of the undercard fighters in the UFC. After six months we had made an impression on a guy named Ryan Simms who let us talk to Dana White. Heading into that interview I am not sure I had ever been that nervous, nor have ever been since. Dana was brilliant and after that the floodgates opened for us as the show began to change. A couple guys got busy or just faded out and as luck would have it one of my dearest friends Ken Evans was coming back to GR from Kalamazoo.

What you wouldn't know at that time is that I had always had Ken in mind for the show because of how perfect he would be for what I wanted to make, but contracts have a way of keeping great ideas apart, so I had to wait. But that wait was absolutely worth it.

As the show went on we kept getting fighters on the show and at one point in year three we had talked to everyone on the UFC roster who spoke English, which was a milestone for us. As the UFC was growing, the show was growing. We had been picked up in Detroit and picked up a fan in Daryl Parks. At the time, Daryl was the head of talk at Clear Channel (now iHeart Media) and took time to help craft this show into what you hear today.

We had been told by "talk luminaries" to do 7 min segments because shorter "was the only way radio would let you grow," advice we gave the big middle finger to, he agreed and instead told us to do two longer segments and see if Premiere Radio Networks wanted to pick us up - a tryout was scheduled.

The thing about being able to do something only once is that there are a lot of things that could work against you, that night they did. The tryout wasn't terrible, but I was hardly shocked we didn't even get a phone call to tell us they didn't want us. The side-effect was we got picked up by two other stations and got some amazing advice from Daryl that planted the seed of what would be the show you hear today.  

The next time the universe would intervene I would be training at 3rd Law BJJ one Sunday morning when I was paired up with a guy from San Diego who came in with Budd Wright. I had trained with Budd and while I had no idea what a Sean Dizay was, I was alway up for training. About 6 seconds into our sparring (in BJJ they call it rolling) Sean submitted me from his guard by planting his knee into my jaw/eye socket. I tapped immediately and I think he thought I would be mad because he had a pause about him, instead I asked, "what was that? and can you show me again" and just like that we became fast friends. It wasn't long after I met him that I had called some Muay Thai fights for him that I thought he would be a great edition to the show. 

In those 4 years we had picked up some amazing fans, lots of whom I talk to nearly every week. One of them was Joe who out of the blue asked if he could help with the facebook page, I am not sure I even thought about it for a second before I responded, yes. I am not sure why I was not more protective of the page, but he just seemed like the guy for the job. Once he was comfortable he asked if he could come into the show and of course we said yes - as with most of this history fate entered and one day Sean didn't show so Ken and I asked Joe if he wanted to jump on the mic and the final piece of the modern WOW Show was formed. 

I tell this history as I am watching UFC 180 for a couple of reasons, one because I wanted to give a peek behind the industry stuffs and two, because none of this happens without an amazing understanding wife + lot of luck - which we have been very fortunate to have. Luck, amazing friends, and fans who have supported us at every turn and for that I am eternally thankful. I am especially thankful for my wife because Angie has been a fan of the show since the original idea, it took me two years to figure out she really just wanted to talk to GSP (which she got to do) but the support was vital and I trust she knows that.

Finishing the show this week was bittersweet, it was an amazing feeling to have done 250 of them ALL OF THEM with dear friends. But, I very much would have liked to have had Sean and Ken on that one. The good news, I plan on doing another 250 so I am sure we can fix that by episode 500. 

So if you have listened to one minute of one episode or memorized Dr. T's insane explanation of the plot lines of TUF episodes - THANK YOU. From the bottom of our hearts Ken, Sean, Joe and I thank you.

Eric HultgrenComment