Podcasts are just one way people are getting their news, history, politics, storytelling, pop culture, and especially sports. For one West Virginia University sports fan, a podcast was a natural extension of that fandom.
“Obviously I love WVU and WVU Athletics,” said Anthony Lewis, the founder and host of Section 304, a unfiltered, uncensored podcast that focuses on WVU football and basketball. “I started feeling the desire to do something but couldn’t put my finger on it.”
The Section 304 Podcast started like most things; when a bunch of guys had an idea and said “why not.”
“I had a group text going with three other guys that were going to be the original cast and someone said something funny and the response was ‘this should be a talk show or a podcast’ and it just grew from there,” Anthony said.
Section 304 is not like your cut-and-dry sports analysis show, and Anthony Lewis isn’t just a fan. Anthony has a lengthy career as a TV news photographer. From day to say he could be shooting a perp walk or filming lawmakers casting votes. But it’s WVU sports that gave Anthony one of his first broadcast jobs with the Mountaineer Sports Network.
Anthony worked for MSN from 1999 to 2005, filming and producing the last few years of former Mountaineer Football Coach Don Nehlen’s career and catching the beginning of former Coach Rich Rodriguez’s controversial tenure at WVU. During this time Anthony made connections with some of the best players to come out of West Virginia University.
“This is where my relationship with the players and coaches really started to develop,” Anthony said. “I remained in touch with the football and basketball programs and use those connections to get guests for Section 304.”
Past guests for Section 304 include Rasheed Marshall, Amos Zereoue, Brian Jozwiak, Major Harris, Aaron Beasley, Bo Orlando, and Steve Slaton.
Every Sunday morning Anthony, his co-host Jon Crum, and often a guest sitting in the “keg position” come into my dining room (disclaimer: I’m the audio engineer and producer for the show). For over an hour they break down the games with facts, wit, and some foul language (particularly if WVU lost the day before). The guys can get critical, but they do have ground rules.
“The concept of the show is real WVU sports fans sitting at the bar talking sports,” Anthony said. “We only have one rule: no personal attacks on the players. They’re kids on scholarship; not a guy making $2 million to catch or pass a football.”
The show started last football season and by the time WVU men’s basketball wrapped up in March the show had over 11,000 downloads. You can now find fans sporting Section 304 beer koozies at home and away football games. The podcast helped spawn 304 Tees, a spinoff business selling apparel and accessories promoting West Virginia’s area code across the nation. Anthony knew the show would get an audience, but he didn’t expect the following it gets.
“The response to the show has been overwhelming,” Anthony said. “Who knew people would take the time to listen to a bunch of nobody’s give their opinion and talk WVU sports. I’ve had people stop me and comment on my Section 304 shirt and tell me how much they love the show. It’s cool to know people really listen and love what we do.”
There have been some requests to bring the show to a mainstream audience with a conventional radio show, but Anthony says that’s not his style. The Section 304 team is proud of their “explicit” label on iTunes and doesn’t want anyone to control what is said on the show.
“We know we’ll never be mainstream because of some of the things we say and how we deliver it but we think there are lots of people who think just like us,” Anthony said. “I think people enjoy the truth.”
Section 304 can be downloaded every Sunday afternoon on iTunes, Stitcher for Android users, and online at section304podcast.com.
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