Tom Carroll can talk about almost anything— from March Madness to hot dogs, he’s creating conversation and casting it onto the interwebs in his new podcast series Tom Talks.
Carroll, a former Beacon correspondent who graduated in 2014, said that his show is a step in the direction of realizing his dream to have his own radio show. With the tagline “A podcast worth listening,” the ESPN producer is audibly exploring sports culture episode by episode through this rising form of media.
Carroll invites a new guest every week to discuss a topic of their choice. Although only four episodes have been recorded so far, Carroll has welcomed everyone from friends and family to ESPN commentators and fellow journalists to participate.
Carroll said his radio career began while studying at Emerson where he co-hosted a sports talk show called Man Cave. As a print and multimedia journalism major—which is no longer offered—Carroll said he learned the building blocks of the industry.
“Being at Emerson definitely allowed me to get awesome experience working in talk radio,” Carroll said. “I worked on a talk show for three years that is very similar to the show I’m doing now.”
Carroll began his podcast earlier this month after he grew bored from working behind the scenes at radio jobs as a producer in Connecticut, he said—he wanted his voice to be heard on the radio.
“I’m not on the air much as [at] ESPN, and I just felt like I was getting stale,” Carroll said. “I didn’t want to lose that knack I had for talking on the mic, so I figured I need to start doing some stuff on my own here.”
Drawing inspiration from This American Life and Serial because of their rich storytelling, his main motivation came from conversations with friends and family. Carroll took these ideas into ESPN’s podcast studio on his off hours and began to create content.
“I think the best type of radio is the one where the host isn’t forcing themselves to talk about a topic,” Carroll said. “I think that makes for the best type of conversation, and I think organic conversation is the best type to listen to when you’re listening to radio or podcast.”
Between the dynamic topics and guests every episode, Carroll has the ability to be candid about whatever he chooses. Carroll said he enjoys watching how the public receives his podcast.
“My favorite part of doing the podcast is having the final product and putting it out there and having people react to it,” Carroll said. “Just hearing people’s reactions to them when they’re posted is my favorite part. But obviously the reporting part is fun, and I love to talk.”
John Brickley, an ESPN radio personality and commentator, was a guest on Carroll’s second show. Carroll said that he asked his colleague to be on the episode about March Madness brackets because he valued Brickley’s sports expertise and his relaxed and candid personality on the microphone. The two are great friends and play off one another well, Brickley said.
“A lot of times with talk radio you can’t try to force it,” Brickley said. “You just have to have a natural kind of chemistry.”
Brickley said that he was amazed by both Carroll’s ability to come up with something new and interesting every week and his capacity to have his projects gain traction virtually overnight. Carroll’s first episode, titled “What should this podcast be about?” has 233 plays on SoundCloud.
“That was the thing: he did one show and garnered so much attention,” Brickley said. “It’s one of those things that you listen to, and it’s an easy listen.”