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Volume 26 No. 5
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Scott Van Pelt, Ryen Russillo Dish On New ESPN Podcast

ESPN last night debuted its latest podcast -- a new offering from former radio partners Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo. “SVP & Russillo” will post monthly editions through August before it becomes bi-weekly, and episodes will be around an hour long. It is a reunion of sorts for the duo, who previously partnered on ESPN Radio for six years before Van Pelt left for the midnight “SportsCenter” edition. Below are excerpts of a Q&A with Van Pelt & Russillo, some of which have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Why reunite now?
Van Pelt: I bugged Ryen more than anything. He and I still talk on the phone so much. It’s not like it’s a daily thing, but we both have this longing to talk to the other because we’re really good friends. Then we’d do it, get to venting on a topic that was almost always sports-related. Then one time at the end Ryen laughed and said, "There’s a segment. Put it on tape and send it in." I never lost a desire to continue to do that in some capacity. We just realized we should do it if we could and the appetite was there from the powers that be.

Russillo: I would always call him to talk about a game and (Scott) would be like, "I’m dealing with two kids right now. I’ll have to call you back to hear your Milwaukee Bucks’ bench theory." The coolest thing about this has been management being so excited. I always emphasize with management when you have so much talent pitching ideas. Let’s not kid ourselves. A good majority of our ideas are not that great. They have to be nice and turn us down in the nicest way possible. But Scott and I had this great track record with the radio show. Then as soon as we brought it up, everyone in management basically said "Please, will you do this?" 

Van Pelt: Ryen and I are both colossal grudge-holders. We always knew what we had was something special. We knew we connected to an audience. The fact that it’s been a few years since we were doing this on a daily basis and the fans are still there … that’s really validating. But we don’t need to be assholes about it. We can just be happy that we get to do it again.

How will content differ from the radio show?
Russillo: The best thing about podcasts is you don’t have to worry about any of the technical stuff anymore. It’s never been easier to be on-air, because no one cares about the format. It’ll probably be less opportunity for Scott to rightfully get annoyed with me.

Van Pelt: When I do that terrible thing when the guest has already left but I’m still doing an eight-minute goodbye, we can just edit that out. We’ll reprise some of the stuff we did -- just because us bs-ing about stupidity always kind of worked. Because it’s less formulaic, we’ll just talk. That’s a boring answer maybe but it seems to be the content people are looking for. Hopefully it’s just a nice, tidy half-hour or 45 minutes that people want to listen to.