Podcast pain and gutsy gains

Ryan Ryan Cowley

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a very visual person. While there isn’t anything wrong with that, it has provided me with one major setback. Due to my stuttering, if I'm speaking with someone, I need their visual attention. So, if someone I’m speaking to is looking at a computer screen, looking through cupboards or sitting in the front seat of a car while I’m sitting in the backseat, getting even just a few words out can be a daunting task. Since I can’t see who I’m speaking to on the phone, it makes speaking even more difficult. 

“By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.” -Charles Spurgeon

Unfortunately, podcasts work the same way. The thought of participating in one was daunting. Nevertheless, I faced my fear back in late 2011 when, through my job as a sports writer, I was asked to discuss the Los Angeles Kings who were just a few months away from capturing their first Stanley Cup crown. I threw my fears out the window and agreed to take part in the podcast, and decided against forewarning the hosts about my stuttering out of fear that they’d have a change of heart. It did not go well.

After the podcast finished when the host took it upon himself to email me to say, “Wow, that was bad!” as if I didn’t feel bad enough already.

it would have been better had I let the hosts know of my stuttering. Okay, in fairness, it would have been better had I let the hosts know of my stuttering. Still, reiterating how bad things went took quite a bit of gall. I was so bothered by the overall experience that I swore I would never participate in a podcast again.

 That vow lasted close to six years.

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

In late 2015 when Kings longtime broadcaster Nick Nickson was chosen as an inductee for the Hockey Hall of Fame, I jumped at the chance to cover the event. I tried to apply four months before the application process was even open!

When I did apply I announced it on Facebook. Fellow Kings fan/writer, Jeff Duarte emailed me to ask how to apply so he could too.  Jeff lived near me and we had been following each other on Twitter but never really conversed with each other. I sent him everything and a few weeks later, both of us enjoyed one of the greatest weekends a pair of hockey writers could ever have, covering the shrine’s coveted Induction Weekend!

That led to us covering the AHL All-Star Classic a couple of months later. Never before had a road trip to Syracuse been so exciting — or exciting, period. The experience even led to Jeff covering his first Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh just a few months later.

Since 2015, Jeff and I have built on our friendship as, in addition to the Kings, we found common ground on our love for movies and old-school wrestling. However, the greatest display of Jeff’s character came later on — early 2017 to be precise.

“Surround yourself with people who support you. Find champions.” -Sarah Gavron

It was something I needed to boost my own confidence level. Around this time, Jeff had begun co-hosting a podcast called “LA Kings Road Talk”. Despite being aware of my issue with podcasts, Jeff had asked me if I’d like to call in and give my Kings-related insights. Naturally, I was reluctant. He asked again and I thought that, as I knew Jeff, if I had a bad experience, he would understand and not make me feel bad about it. So, in February of 2017, I called in to an episode of his show. I had some hiccups here and there and even talked a little faster at times (a personal habit in an attempt to avoid stuttering) but overall, it was a very positive experience. It was something I needed to boost my own confidence level.

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” -George S. Patton

 I did this during my quest, if you will, of interviewing 50 former Kings and it probably couldn’t have happened at a better time. While I always knew he was a reliable colleague and a great guy overall, Jeff’s help was greatly appreciated and, in the risk of sounding sappy, he is a great friend to have.

 I have since called in to “LA Kings Road Talk” a few times and have enjoyed each experience. There were some episodes where my speech wasn’t as fluent as I had hoped but no one minded — and if no one minds, neither do I.

 I’d be lying if I said that I’m comfortable enough to start my own podcast but that’s not to suggest that it’ll never happen. After all, whether it’s tomorrow, a few months from now or even next year, I will get there. For now, though, I just want to thank Jeff and the rest of the “LA Kings Road Talk” family for not only welcoming me but accepting me for my charming personality, witty sense of humour and my hockey knowledge. Each of the aforementioned qualities trumps any sort of impediment, much less a stutter. While it’s important enough that I know that, it is always great when others know it as well.  Thank you, guys!


Ryan Cowley is a writer who lives in Toronto who has covered major sporting events for web and print publications. This is his second article for CSA. He is also a graduate of Humber College’s Comedy Writing & Performance program. See his website at website at the Big Salad.

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