Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Jan. 19, 2023

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January 19th, 2023

A good Thursday morning to you all! This past Sunday was the seven-year anniversary of the first episode of my podcast. Back then, we were with BetAmerica, where the show lived until 2019, when we switched over here to TwinSpires.

We’ve done about 1,700 episodes in all since that first one (you can listen to the first one HERE), and it’s been a real blast. So in reflecting on the anniversary, I thought I’d write about seven things I’ve learned from doing this show.

Lesson One

People in racing are very generous with their time. Of those 1,700 shows I mentioned above, well over 1,000 have featured a guest from the world of racing. Now granted, some of them have been multiple-time guests, but I’d say we’ve had at least 700 or 800 unique guests on the show.

I’m always a little nervous reaching out to ask someone to do an interview because I know they’re busy and some people don’t want to do interviews. That said, I’d say about 99% of the people I reach out to about an interview say yes, and that always astounds me. We’ve had everyone, from world-class jockeys and trainers to the best horseplayers in the country on the show. And all have been extremely generous with their time and sharing their stories. I can’t begin to convey my appreciation.

Lesson Two

Our audience craves good betting content. Without fail, when we have a well-respected bettor or handicapper on the show, our downloads go up. Our top two shows ever for downloads are the two-part episodes I did with Inside the Pylons in 2018. If you take away our Kentucky Derby preview episodes over the years, then nine of the top 10 “guest” episodes are with bettors.

I think a lot of racing content focuses on handicapping, and we’ve found a niche discussing and analyzing the psychology, math, and thought processes of good bettors. And I believe from the feedback I get that our audience overwhelmingly appreciates those dialogues, so we will continue to make that a primary focus.

Lesson Three

Creativity makes me a more fulfilled person. When I shifted my focus in life to pointing more toward fulfillment than happiness, I noticed, in general, I was a happier person. I think having a chance to create a podcast episode multiple times a week has been good for me as a creative person.

Since we mostly follow the same format each week, sometimes I do find myself feeling in a little bit of a rut creatively with the show. In those moments, I try to do something different, shake it up a bit, find a new angle or topic, and go from there. I suppose if you do something daily or near-daily like this, you ultimately have to keep tinkering with it or it will get stale for either you as a host or the audience.

Lesson Four

TwinSpires has been extremely supportive. Counting the BetAmerica years, I think I’ve had four different people that I’ve reported to as my supervisors in this position. And in those seven years, I can count on one hand the number of times I was given guidance or told something to do, and even those times they were reasonable and, honestly, correct requests.

In the early days, I was a little more wild with song parodies and game shows and bits. A few of those song parodies even had us getting legal threats because we pissed off some jockeys. Oops. But even then, my supervisors stood by me and the content, and that’s continued. I feel very strong in my abilities to govern what to talk about and what lines not to cross, but it makes me happy to know my employers trust me with that governing.

Lesson Five

Everyone has a story. Talking about the number of guests we have, getting to hear people’s stories and talk to them about their stories is very, very cool. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have some struggles or adversity in their life, and it’s always great to hear from people who have overcome those and found success in some way. I think it helps inspire us to hear from other people, particularly those who might be somewhere in life that we ultimately want to get to. I’ve never understood being jealous of people who have had success. Instead I want to be happy for them and hopefully learn from them on how to find success in my own life in whatever form that means to me.

Lesson Six

Audiences connect to you most when you’re open and honest. I’ve always tried to be as forthright and honest about my life when it comes to the show. If I’m having a rough patch or riding a high in life, I want to bring the audience with me.

I really think that a listening audience can spot a phony pretty easily. They might still tune in, but they aren’t going to really connect with that person, which to me is ultimately the best part of doing the show (more on that in No. 7). I just think that people are very smart and perceptive, and if you’re lying to them or blowing smoke into the microphone, they are going to notice, and they are eventually going to tune out.

Lesson Seven

Horseplayers and racing fans are amazing. I said just a few sentences above that connecting with people is the best part of doing this show. Whether it’s getting emails or tweets or meeting in person, hearing and talking to racing fans has been really great.

I’m not the best person when it comes to being social, and I’m terrible at initiating conversation with strangers. So when people come up to me at a racetrack and tell me they listen to the show, I can’t tell you how cool that is for me. When I do the show, it’s literally me talking into a microphone and staring into a computer or a wall. I see the download numbers everyday, but when you actually get to meet the real people who listen, it’s just a joy and a blessing. So if you see me at a track, please do say hello.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks to everyone who has listened to the podcast over the years. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.