By Steve Mavin
Season 1 2019
We are Rabbitohs Radio!
Grant ‘Chaps’ Chappell had said to me ‘we should start a Rabbitohs podcast’ on more than one occasion in the smoko room at work & although I liked the idea I wasn’t quite sure if we could actually do it.
The banter at our workplace on the Port Botany waterfront is always interesting & the conversation often turns to rugby league & in particular the South Sydney Rabbitohs. This is because Botany is deep in the heart of Rabbitohs territory & a lot of us are local diehard Bunnies fans that bleed red & green & we love to talk about our team & defend all comers who attempt to promote the virtues of their own clubs & compare them to our lofty standing as the greatest club in Australian sporting history.
A lot of this lively discussion revolves around our rivalry with the Sydney Roosters who were formerly known as Eastern Suburbs. The divide between us is as wide as Bass Straight & their supporters at work are also numerous & usually don’t hold back when footy discussions are held. To put it simply we see our side as ‘the force’ & the ‘Chooks’ as the ‘dark side’ & we defend that position with a passion that is always vigorous & lots of fun.
The reality is that both the Rabbitohs & the Roosters are foundation clubs that began in 1908 & are steeped in a rich history of Rugby League glory in Sydney. They competed in the 1st grand final (won by Souths 14-12) & have battled each other for supremacy ever since with the Rabbitohs 21 premierships to the Roosters 15 allowing Souths fans to coin the phrase ‘forever in our shadow’.
Podcasting has exploded in popularity & I know this from my own experience. In the last year or two I went from listening to none to devouring a lot. I now subscribe to some of my favourite podcasts & look forward to each episode that I can listen to anywhere & anytime that suits me. I usually go for a walk or jog with the headphones in or play an episode via Bluetooth in my car. I also let the podcast narrator read me a bedtime story on the odd occasion as well. Chaps was a podcast convert before me & he also can attest to being a huge fan of this new digital entertainment.
A point that Chaps told me early on in our podcast plans has stuck with me, he listens to an NFL podcast & the hosts of that show will often talk about their own lives & what they’ve been up to or any topic that may be in the headlines of the day. This means that the listener forms a bond with these guys & enjoys hearing about them & their stories & not just what’s happening in the Gridiron world.
Chaps is a 43yo Maroubra local with a lifelong passion for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Grant is married to Carola & they have 3 kids Dekotah 11, Havana 8 & Samara 6.
Chaps went to Coogee South Public School and attended high school at Marcellin College Randwick & played rugby league for the Maroubra Lions. Chaps has 20 years experience in beach commentary of surfing competitions and is the president of the North Maroubra Surf Riders & he is also a member of the Bra Boys brotherhood.
What finally made us decide to take the plunge was that we believe that eventually every rugby league club will have their own podcast & we didn’t want to be saying ‘we should’ve done it before someone beat us to it!’ The digital age is upon us & each new generation will expect this type of medium for their information & entertainment. As 5G arrives & streaming services & data use become commonplace instead of a luxury, more & more content of this type will be available to the masses.
So at first it was Chaps & me Steve Mavin the former Rabbitohs player but then one day Chaps told me that instead of us being a duo we were now a trio with our workmate & another former Rabbitoh Darren Brown joining our team. I must to admit I was taken slightly taken aback by this new addition & wondered whether it would work. I asked myself if our close mate Browny was has worked as an auctioneer was suited to this type of thing? Could we blend into a team that can produce a show that sounds ok & people will like? I soon found out that each of us bring something different to the table but that what we offer is of equal importance.
Darren Brown is a 50 year old from Redfern who has always loved the Bunnies. He is a family man, his partners name is Belinda and their 3 kids are Jaiden 22, Tyler 21 & Charli 13.
Browny played 208 first grade games with Souths, Wests, Penrith & also in England with Salford, scoring 45 tries in total.
Browny went to primary school at Mt Carmel Waterloo and his secondary school was Hurstville Boys High. He played for Zetland, Mascot and the Waterloo Waratahs & represented South Sydney in the Harold Mathews Cup, SG Ball Cup (premiers 1986) and Jersey Flegg.
Browny previously worked for NG Farah Real Estate & gained experience on the microphone as an auctioneer.
I am a 51 year old from Botany & I went to South Sydney High School. I too have red & green blood in my veins. I’m a father of 2 daughters Jasmin 24 & Demi 22 & I’ve been married to my wife Samantha for 25 years. We love to travel & we’re always planning our next getaway.
I also played in all the Souths junior rep teams & played a total of 104 first grade games with Souths & the Bulldogs.
A decent portion of my spare time these days is spent on the the golf course & I shoot videos & narrate them for my Mavos Golf Blog Instagram & YouTube channel.
How do we start?
In the beginning our knowledge of podcasting was limited to the very basic definition-
a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.
Although we knew very little we were determined to find out so with the help of Google & a few friends I kicked us off by downloading a podcast app called Anchor.
Anchor describes itself as – an audio streaming and publishing platform that lets you listen to and publish audio broadcasts. You can use Anchor to essentially create your own radio station, populated with audio tidbits, music, transitions between sections, phone calls and interviews. In October 2019 music streaming giant Spotify paid over $200 million to acquire Anchor which is further proof that podcasting is on the rise.
So we had an app & a name – Rabbitohs Radio which was suggested to us by our friends at Roosters Radio who have been a huge help getting us started.
Roosters Radio is an established podcast hosted by Silky & Bush (Cooper Silk & Craig ‘Bush’ Markham). They are owned & financed by the Sydney Roosters & they in turn sponsor Roosters star & former Rabbitoh Luke Keary. Roosters Radio operates out of the Radio Hub studios in Alexandria, Sydney & they have achieved a level of professionalism that we still aspire to. Silky is a former workmate of ours having worked as a wharfie for 20 years at Port Botany before making the big move first into the internet radio world & then podcasting. Silkys advice & encouragement has been invaluable to us & Bush too has shared his wisdom & experience to help us improve. They started out making their show with no support but persevered until they had broken through in the media & had a story from an interview in their show mentioned in the newspaper. This made the Roosters take notice & they faced a choice to either turn their back on the show or support it. In the end the Roosters went all in & Roosters Radio became the official podcast of the Sydney Roosters.
(We would later go on to make a joint Episode 8 with the Roosters Radio team which is a first for rugby league podcasting in Australia.)
With that story fresh in our minds we made plans to follow in their footsteps with the same model – make a great show that the Rabbitohs will want to be a part of.
We had a few friends that gave us a helping hand but we probably went ahead & made our first show before we were ready. Our lack of patience can be excused by the fact that we were just keen to get into it & have a go & this has been our moto ever since, we’ll make the show & then work on making it better.
On the 20th of July 2019 Rabbitohs Radio was born sitting around Browny’s kitchen table in his Botany home talking into my iPhone that was recording a voice memo! The result is an enthusiastic start but fell well short of the sound quality that can be achieved with the right equipment & know how.
Our first mistake was not knowing what is needed to produce a decent sound. The environment where a recording takes place ideally has soft surfaces in a controlled environment, not the hard table & floors of Browny’s open plan kitchen & dining room.
Mistake two was that although podcasting can be & is done speaking into a phone it doesn’t quite match the quality that can be heard when using proper audio microphones that are connected to appropriate equipment deigned to process the sound. Speaking directly into the phone or connecting a special microphone to the handset can work but it’s not ideal.
We sat around my iPhone & talked footy & it worked so I uploaded the file into the Anchor app & I went to work getting it out there.
I have always been into computers & gadgets so I accepted the challenge to master this audio editing caper. Luckily for me the Anchor app is extremely user friendly so my task was somewhat less daunting than I had envisioned. I just added the file & the app allowed me to cut out any bits that I didn’t want & then once I had separated all the pieces I could just arrange them together again, give it a title & publish the episode. Episode 1 Rabbitohs Radio – 3 Bunnies talking footy made its debut without much fanfare but it was a start & although it wasn’t close to being a polished product there was still some glimpses that we could be onto something. It wasn’t complete rubbish, Browny told his Ivan Milat story & we all spoke freely & chimed in with our thoughts.
Our costs at this stage were zero but so was our budget, we really did start at the bottom & the only way to go was up.
No advertising budget meant that we turned to the easiest way to promote anything these days, social media. We started with Instagram & then quickly opened Facebook & Twitter accounts. Initially we were Rabbitohs Radio Podcast but we soon found that podcast didn’t really need to be in the title & that Rabbitohs Radio was a more catchy name. We dropped the third word & after a bit of stopping, starting & mucking around we finally managed to have all our social media under the same name Rabbitohs Radio. We also embraced the hashtag #rabbitosradio right from the start as a way of branding our name & allowing people to find our posts & tag us with theirs. To date the hashtag hasn’t really taken off but we still believe that it’s a great way to bring everything we have produced under one banner for people to discover.
Right from the start we found that our friends, family & followers of our own social media accounts were happy to follow Rabbitohs Radio, even those that weren’t Rabbitohs supporters. This instantly created a following that has helped us steadily grow along with another brilliant asset – word of mouth. People telling other people about us is an endorsement that we value & cherish.
Our first big break was to make it onto Apple Podcasts ‘the worlds largest platform for podcast discovery & listening’. iPhones are the most popular mobile phone on the planet & each one comes with an Apple Podcast app already installed. This little purple branded app with the white i & circles is home to millions of shows & episodes from a multitude of topics that can be downloaded for free & if you subscribe to a show then each new episode downloads automatically. All that is needed is an internet connection & once shows are downloaded they can be listened to even if the phone is out of range with no signal or in flight mode. This is particularly great for entertainment on flights, just download the shows you want to hear, put in your headphones & you’re all set with hours of entertainment to fill the time until your destination is reached.
I’m telling you this because like I said before I loved Podcasts before we started making one. There’s some beauties out there, besides ours of course!
We Needed Guests
We set our sights on episode 2 knowing that we wanted to make the show better & to do it we needed to speak to special guests. Chaps has a mate that has a small recording studio at home & he lent us his hand held recording device (an Olympus Linear PCM Recorder to be precise). This recorder is like the ones you’ll often see reporters holding in peoples faces when trying to record them speaking. With this new piece of equipment we moved a step forward from using a mobile phone to something a little more professional & now all we needed was some people to talk into it.
Luckily for us we work with quite a few ex first grade footballers on the wharves. There’s Tigers big man Keith Galloway & Bulldogs legends David ‘Cement’ Gillespie & Corey Hughes just to name a few.
We are not short of ex Rabbitohs either & the most famous of those is Les ‘Bundy’ Davidson & he agreed to sit down with us for a chat in the training room at work.
Les is such a gentleman, the nicest bloke you’ll ever meet & nothing like the ferocious hard man that would hammer the opposition into submission on the football field. Les is from the bush, he grew up in Dubbo NSW & credits ‘having to aim up a few times against my older brothers’ as one of the reasons why he is regarded as among the toughest men to ever play the game. Les grew up watching rugby league in an era where brutality was part of the sport & so during his career he would never take a backward step. If Les wasn’t punishing a player with his deadly shoulders in defence he would on the odd occasion be landing blows with his furious fists. Les can handle himself, he was to be feared on the footy field & I was glad he was on my team in those early days. Les was also a skilful attacking forward who could hit the line, offload, run through gaps & score tries.
Les Davidson played 279 first grade games with the South Sydney Rabbitohs (113), Cronulla Sharks (133) & in England with Warrington Wolves (22) & Wigan Warriors (11). Les played State Of Origin for NSW 5 times & represented Australia playing 4 games for the Kangaroos.
We put our recorder on the table & all sat around it & our interview with Les went ok but we still needed to learn how to do it right & this didn’t come close. The audio quality was poor & our interviewing skills were as you would expect from three guys with next to no experience. Talking to someone & recording it sounds easy, just ask them questions & they give you their answers but what we would soon learn is that you need to really listen to what people are saying & react to that rather than just waiting to ask the next question you have ready. This is an important lesson that would take us quite a while & a few more interviews to realise.
Episode 2 wasn’t great but we had a genuine rugby league legend on the show, it gave us credibility & launched us into the mainstream podcast universe. To date Episode 2 is still our most listened to show with 1648 plays & counting & we’ll always be indebted to our mate Bundy the champion on & off the field for giving us a helping hand.
The Rabbitohs Radio Team
Bundy was added to the list of people alongside Silky & Bush that have given us a boost. That list has grown into a formidable team of people.
Our first logo was an amateurish creation that I made on my phone, it was a circle with a picture of Browny, Chaps & myself with the words Rabbitohs Radio in red & green at the top. It served its purpose but then Brownys’ brother Trent stepped in & came to our rescue.
Trent Brown is a graphic artist that works with On Deck Baseball. One day he sent us a logo that he had created with a green rabbit in front of a red play button, it was perfect & as soon as I saw it I knew that we had found our new logo.
I considered waiting until next years 2020 Season 2 before re-branding our show but Trents’ professional artistry was 10 times better than what I had produced so I knew that the sooner we started using it the better. If you look at all the Podcasts that are available the one thing that grabs you straight way is its image. If it’s a good one you will probably click to check it out, if it’s a great one you will more than likely download it & if it’s plain & underwhelming then you may just flick past to the next one.
Publicising our brand new email firstname.lastname@example.org brought us an unexpected early result, our inbox received a message from Sam from Soul Of Sydney.
Sam is a Redfern boy & Rabbitohs fan who has been making a music podcast & promoting music events for over 10 years & he wrote to us to offer his assistance & knowledge. To this day Sams’ generosity knows no bounds, he’s an example of how good people can be, especially those in the Rabbitohs family. Sam wanted to help & we were stoked that he did.
Sams’ email listed about 7 different topics that he said he could help us with from audio editing, website design & production. I replied to Sam that we needed help with everything on his list & that we wanted to meet him & pick his brain for valuable information.
There’s a whole range of stuff that Sam has done but 2 worth mentioning here are helping me learn how to edit audio & creating our website http://www.rabbitohsradio.com.au
I don’t want to bore you with the technical details but to put it basically there’s a free program called Audacity that can be downloaded onto your computer or laptop & it allows you to record or upload audio & then edit it & export the file as an mp3. Editing in the Anchor app was ok for basic audio production but now that I had Audacity I could get our sound quality & everything else right or at least a lot closer to it.
The editing process seems very difficult & daunting when you first take it on, there’s a lot to learn & I wouldn’t blame anyone for putting it in the too hard basket. However once you’ve mastered the basics it’s actually quite a lot of fun & while it’s sometimes very time consuming it’s ultimately extremely rewarding & enjoyable.
My daughter Jasmin was the next member to be added to our line-up. Jas is studying communications at university & also works as an instructional designer so her skills have come in very handy indeed.
Jasmins’ experience & guidance has helped us refine our podcast & social media accounts plus a whole range of other bits & pieces & she continues to make me proud everyday. Jas made our amazing intro that features another league legend who you may have heard of…Matty Johns.
“the other podcast worth a listen is Rabbitohs Radio it’s just come out…Darren Brown, Steve Mavin & Grant Chappell’ Matty Johns
Browny is mates with Matty & a host of other famous league identities in the media such as Mark Geyer & Brad ‘Freddy’ Fittler. Matty Johns & his brother the 8th immortal Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns are Newcastle royalty & both have forged stellar careers in the media, Matty on Fox League & Joey on channel 9.
The shoutout that Matty gave us went out to his legion of listeners & pumped up our tyres in the process. It was sensational & priceless.
Matty would later appear on our show when we least expected it, in a phone interview that we were recording with another former Rabbitoh Jason Death. Matty was introduced as Jasons’ manager & he began making inquiries about payment for the interview. It was an impromptu g-up & a funny moment & gave us further exposure that we advertised with the release of episode 7.
After episode 2 was released we took up Silkys’ offer to rent us a real recording studio, so with that we moved into the Radio Hub Studios At Alexandria in Sydney.
Momentum started building, big name guests were giving us their time & it was all happening. People were downloading, subscribing, listening, liking & following our pages. We were on a roll & were surprised at how quickly things were moving.
We spoke to Craig ‘Tugger’ Coleman about the Rabbitohs fight to regain their place in the competition. Bob McCarthy told us a brilliant story about his childhood growing up in Redfern. Our listeners were able to picture a young Bob looking over his backyard fence as 1950’s Souths legend Bernie Purcells’ mum hung his Souths jersey on the close line. A young Bob spellbound by the cardinal & myrtle jumper glistening against a clear blue sky is a memory that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Hearing people’s stories & painting a picture as you listen is what I love about our show, it’s a strength that we’ll continue to play to & I believe it’s a recipe for success.
Our guests won’t always be superstars like Bob McCarthy, anyone with an interesting tale to tell will be welcome. I also hope that we can branch out further & speak to players from rival clubs & even other sports as long as it’s a story worth hearing then I reckon we get them on the show.
A Helping Hand
We began paying to rent the studio out of our own pockets because we believed in what we were doing then one day another email arrived that would give us a reason to rejoice.
Ian from Export Freight Systems grew up in Mascot playing rugby league for the Mascot Jets & is a passionate Bunnies man. Ian had heard our show & liked what we were doing & wanted to be a part of it. He politely enquired if we were interested in a sponsor & we replied that yes we were.
Our list of sponsors has since grown to 5 fabulous supporters. We were ecstatic to have The Juniors group of clubs on board & they were joined by Rise Foundation Australia, NG Farah Real Estate & Bourke Street Bakery. We also recently welcomed a partnership with Maroubra Community Instagram & Facebook.
We didn’t set out to make money but we were relieved to know that it wasn’t going to cost us anything anymore. We value all our legendary sponsors & each of them operate fine Australian businesses that all do truly great work in our community.
The list of impressive talent that we’ve had on the show is something that we are so proud to have achieved. We’ve been granted permission to use songs by some super Aussie artists like Perry Keyes, Chris Carpenter, Alan Caswell, John Maclean & more. We’ve had Garlo’s Pie king Sean Garlick, NSW Blues women’s half Maddie Studdon guest host, some of Souths brilliant staff members Terry Coulits, Willie Peters, Ben Rogers & Shane Millard. The Rabbitohs retiring legend John Sutton gave us his valuable time during the season plus we’ve had our mate the Fijian flyer Manoa Thompson, Fox League star Bryan Fletcher, Mario ‘The Falcon’ Fenech, Triple Ms Anthony Maroon, Paul ‘The Huntsman’ McNicholas, Souths young gun Blake Taaffe & the Redfern Express Terry Fahey.
It was during our interview with Terry Fahey that we learned a lesson that we’ll never forget.
A question that we start with has become a signature for our interviews ‘Where were you from & what was it like growing up there?’ We do this so that we can find out about a person & their background & not just their rugby league story.
In Terrys’ case he told us about his childhood spent in a boarding home with his brothers after a family split & rather than asking him about what that must’ve felt like & letting him tell us more about his youth we moved onto questions that we had prepared earlier. Terry went on to give us a great interview & we thank him for not only that but for teaching us a valuable lesson for future interviews. Listen to what people say & discuss it with them, don’t put the blinkers on. It sounds obvious but to us it wasn’t. It is now.
When the Rabbitohs lost that agonising semi final to the Raiders we pushed on with our plan to make one last grand final episode. We knew we wanted a Rabbitohs grand final hero so we set our sights high & contacted John Sattler through his son Scott. We also got hold of Ron Coote & when he said yes he’d be happy to help us out we were over the moon.
The news from Scott Sattler about his dad was that John is well & looking fit but he’s not quite the same as he used to be & while he can remember a lot of his incredible deeds from his career he sometimes struggles with the short term memories. When he retired John Sattler would often come into the dressing rooms to talk to us current Souths players & my memories of him are that he was always easy to talk to, a lovely bloke & a true gentleman.
We decided that because Souths were eliminated we should make this show a grand final heroes episode & we invited Scott Sattler on instead because he is the only man in history that can say that both himself & his father are iconic rugby league grand final winning legends.
For those that don’t know John Sattler courageously played the best part of the 1970 grand final 23-12 victory by Souths over Manly with a shattered jaw. Scott famously ran down & brilliantly cover tackled Todd Byrne into touch in Penriths 2003 win over Easts.
Scott surprised us with his stories of being a lifelong Rabbitohs fan & how he loved being the son of a great man & never saw it as a burden. The tale about Scott using his dads hook in the dressing shed at Redfern Oval is a ripper & the cheeky Rabbitoh lady who revved him up as he came & went from the tunnel is also very funny.
Browny played with Mark Geyer & when he agreed to come on we knew we had to ask him about that famous moment when he caught the ball & passed it to Royce Simmons to win Penriths’ first grand final in 1991. I was wrapped when he gave us a description of that moment & how it felt & the rest of MGs interview was gold too even though it was over the phone & the signal wasn’t great.
Season 1 was done but we decided that a ‘Best Of’ show would give people a chance to hear all the best bits from our debut year. It took a lot of work to pick through all 13 episodes & add some new content but the result was a pleasing final edition.
As I write this we also plan to release a music episode soon with all the songs that have been on the show plus one or two surprises.
An extremely exciting development for us is that we purchased some podcast equipment today so we can set up our own studio in the garage at my house. Rabbitohs Radio will now be broadcast from our Botany Studio at no cost other than our time which further cements the shows’ viability in the future.
To everyone that has listened, supported, liked, reviewed, shared & spoken about us we are indebted to you & we won’t forget it. To our wives, families & loved ones we adore you all. Up the mighty Rabbitohs!