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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Solid

This is one part open letter, one part hat tip, and perhaps a bit more fanboying that I'm typically comfortable with. But as the Solid Verbal commemorates the start of their 10th season (and did so with an origin story retrospective) I feel inclined to give them their due.

The Solid Verbal Podcast came into being right around the same time 80 Minutes of Regulation did, though I didn't know of their existence until a few years later. Hosts Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt are also around my age (slightly younger and older than me, respectively), so the show has always felt right in my wheelhouse. The two hosts met - only virtually for the beginning of their relationship - as both were in different facets of Sports Illustrated's college football media. From there, they created, cultivated, and grew a podcast that is a source of enjoyment, news, and humor for many of us.

I remember my exact point of entry: The guest was Mark Ennis, then of SB Nation's Big East Coast Bias. I looked up the Solid Verbal to check out Mark, a Louisville guy who was the citizen-commissioner of Big East Twitter (#weallwegot). I loaded the show up on my clickwheel iPod prior to a trip up to Ocean City to visit family. What I recall is being immediately impressed with the quality of both the audio and the hosting. I don't remember exactly where my familiarity with podcasts was at the time - they may have been my first indie podcast - but for two self-described random guys from the internet, they had it. I listened to the podcast and a few more, and despite heavy leaning on an Animal Plant show called Whale Wars I had never heard of (in their defense, it was the offseason) they became part of the rotation.

Years later, they aren't just part of the rotation, they start it. Despite subscribing to more podcasts than my weekly commute has time for, a new Solid Verbal episode gets the immediate bump to the top of the stack. Dan and Ty's knowledge is formidable, their guests are excellent, and they're just damn enjoyable to listen to. What I once considered non sequitur diversions like Whale Wars I now recognize as part of the show's charm, and there are far more hits than misses with me in terms of familiarity. They digress into and back out of pop culture seamlessly as one might when chatting with friends about football and whatever else. And while it's weird to say "I've watched them grow up" of a couple of guys my age, it's been cool to see a few key life changes - Dan's move to the East Coast and employment with SB Nation, the show taking on sponsors, distribution, and strategic partnerships, increasingly bigger guests and events, and both hosts getting married - the last of which has manifested in a "window of opportunity" report for us married folk who can't post up in front of football all Saturday, much as we would like to.

We operate in different media, and do things differently - one a helluva lot more successfully than the other - so I wouldn't first be inclined to say they inspire me or keep me going. But they definitely add a lot of enjoyment, which is to say nothing of the wealth of information they bring with a delivery method I favor over some other folks in the space. I listen to quite a few of their competitors - and to be clear, as Dan and Ty are, while other podcasts are in the same space doing the same thing, they're brothers in arms more than anything else. Their grind is absolutely admirable, at a clip of one to two shows a week for over nine years, and Dan spoke of a love for creating things no matter how many people are listening. It is from there I draw my inspiration, and it was a pleasure hearing them talk through the process of creating and sustaining what is, as far as I'm concerned, an institution. Thanks guys, stay solid.
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