Saturday, September 22, 2012

INTERVIEW: Joe Taracini - The Marathon Show

        Run a few larger races, and you will racers say "Joe from The Marathon Show" is here!".  

      Joe is not hard to miss.  With his light-bulb smile, thundering supportive voice of support and of course his brightly colored orange/yellow attire, you can see and hear from anywhere on the course.  I met Joe at the Los Angeles Marathon.  Since then, he has graciously invited me to be a part of a Coach's Panel on his show.  

F    This is a man who is use to interviewing others.  Now, the tables are turned.  It's Joe's turn to be FAMOUS (not that he needs any help!)....Joe Taricani of The Marathon Show

       1.  How long have you been running and what got you into running?

Probably like most people I had run on and off over the years as part of my exercise routine.  I had never run in a race until I signed up for a 5K in Washington DC. 

I’ll never forget the feeling of being a participant and then looking at spectators who were looking at me.  It has always been reversed.  I moved up to a 10K a month later.  My results in both races were poor and I returned to running every now and then, but not in races. 

 A few years later in 1998, while in a running store, I saw a sign that said, “Want to run a marathon?  Don’t think you can?”  I signed up for the training program thinking I would just quit when the miles got too long.  About 18 weeks later I finished a marathon.  It was a moving experience.  A marathon finish line is something you have to earn all by yourself.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment.  I fell away from running then came back in 2003 and fell away once again. 

In 2008, moved by the death of a friend, I recommitted to get in shape and ran 8 marathons in 2009.

2. When and how did the idea of The Marathon Show come about?

I had written a business book in 2010 about making customers, clients and patients very loyal.  I was promoting it by interviewing business executives.  

 I pushed their interviews out via a podcast.  It occurred to me that I should try a podcast for the marathon running community.  I knew nothing about broadcasting or production so I promised myself I would abandon the idea if I couldn’t get 500 fans on Facebook within 3 months.  I beat that number and continued to improve with show content and production.

3. How large is your listening audience?

These figures are tough to pin down, but experts have said my audience is now over 35,000 people worldwide.  The show is growing exponentially now so with good luck and good production the audience could be 3 to 4 times bigger in 12 months.

4. What has been some of your most memorable interviews?

I have two memorable interviews:

1) I had sent Bart Yasso an interview request when I got started.  I assumed he would say no because I was unknown and he had a competing podcast.  He said yes.  I read everything I could on Bart to prepare for the interview and it went well.  Time passed and I sent a request to Dick Beardsley who also said yes. After the interview Dick’s wife sent me a note and said it was one of the best interviews Dick had ever given thanks to my approach.  I was overwhelmed. 

2) In late 2011 the Competitor Group hosted the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Las Vegas which was beset by many problems.  I invited Competitor to come on the show to discuss it.  They agreed to the interview and said their CEO, Peter Englehart, would be the person interviewed.  Mr. Englehart is a former senior executive for ESPN and other major broadcasting companies.  It was bit of a turning point for me because I had to act and think like a professional journalist otherwise I would have been eaten alive and/or embarrassed myself.  The interview came off pretty well.  The audience was pleased to hear his answers and Competitor felt like they got treated fairly. 

5. What attracts you to the running community to make them Famous?

I tend to channel with people’s emotions as they conquer their obstacles at the finish line of a race.  Finishing a marathon and a half marathon is remarkable.  The ethos of The Marathon Show is all about celebrating people’s journey.  A marathon or a half marathon is a long distance.  It’s a remarkable merit badge.  I use the show to talk about average people who do something remarkable.  I say I like to make them “superstars.”  It’s working too.  A lot of people in the running community now know a lot more people thanks to the show.  I don’t celebrate finish times on The Marathon Show.  In fact, I never ask someone what their finish time was.  I’ll ask them if they met their goal or if they’re satisfied.  We celebrate the finish line on The Marathon Show because the finish line changes people’s lives. 

6. What is Bright Running?

Bright Running ( is a new company I am helping to launch. 

I see something interesting at races.  People want to celebrate and define themselves in how they look and what they wear.  Running clothing is generally pretty boring.  Most of it is made for the masses and it’s not edgy enough for this crowd.  The Bright Running clothing line will get moving very soon.  Everything I wear is made by Bright Running.   

Ahead of the clothing line, Bright Running has done something very fun.  They’ve turned race bibs into art that people can use every day.  People never wear their medals to the next race, but they do wear race bib dog tags that are made from their past races.  Bright Running has added iPhone covers, license plates, commemorative plaques and much more.  This is a very fun project and I’m enjoying the challenge of blowing life into a new business that makes runners very happy.


7. Share with us something about Joe. Married? Kids? Pets? Etc?

I am a business person who grew up working for very large companies which is why I’m constantly amazed that the show is working and people enjoy it.  I have no background in broadcasting, or acting or communications.  I met Colleen in 1998 through a mutual friend.  She was living in New York and I was living in California.  We dated from cross country the entire time before we were married.  I call her Mrs. Marathon on the show.  Marathon Jr. is actually my son Joey who is 8 ½ and Marathon Kate is my daughter Kate who just turned 7.  They don’t like running very much so I think they’re perfectly normal.  Colleen finished a marathon in 2010.  I was there to cheer for her at the finish.  We have a goldfish.  He gets a new name every time he stays over at someone’s house.  It’s currently Tito, which I believe is from a WWF character.  While the journey to make a living in podcasting is nearly impossible, I’m committed to this for the time being.  I like the challenge of this.  It will succeed if I am innovative, creative and energetic.  I like my chances with those 3 requirements.

8. Tell me about some of the interesting people you have met along the way

Running a marathon is a little bit like going to an airport – you see everyone there.  People tend to ask me about celebrities that run and they want to know if I’ve met them. 

I’ve met a few: Drew Carey, Megyn Price, Sean Astin just to name a few.  They’re like us.  They feel awesome that they are runners and they love to compete.  They love talking about running.  I met Meb Keflezighi twice.  He’s genuine. He’s a great guy.  It’s the average runners that I remember the most.  I met the woman who finished last in a race one day.  She pretty much hopped on one leg for 8 miles.  I met a man in Little Rock who was on his journey to lose weight.  His goal was to lose 200 lbs.  He didn’t finish the race that day, but he had an impact on me.  I met a Marine that lost both legs in combat.  He had just finished running a half marathon.  His spirit and love of life is something I will never forget.  I hope I see him again.  

Everybody that approaches me is interesting.  I love to hear everyone’s story and they love to tell it.

9. When did you come up with the idea to carry the "ON AIR" sign for the races?

I broadcast while running my first marathon because I was injured.  I knew I had to go really slow so carrying a microphone gave me some mental license to take it easy.  I realized after a couple races that the microphone alone just seemed like an odd race prop.  People would stare at me.  The “On Air” sign changed that a little.   

Now a lot of people think I have two odd race props, but many more know me when they see the sign.  I’d estimate half the people that recognize me at a race only know the sign because they’ve seen it before or they’ve heard about it from a friend.  The other half know me from the show and the “On Air” sign lets them know where I am.  I like carrying the sign except when it’s windy. 

10) What are your goals for The Marathon Show?

I’m a business person so I hope to make the show a successful enterprise.  I’d like to see the show get big enough to attract syndication.  Marathon running is mainstream in America now.  It’s perfectly reasonable to think that a show like this would have a very wide appeal that national syndication could reach.  I’d like the show to become big enough to have some production help and Marathon Show correspondents. 

It would be really fun to have race reports from around the country and internationally.  I think the audience would love that and I think it would also help grow the sport.  As it stands right now I still get rejected for interviews by some race directors and most equipment companies.  It would be nice to achieve a level of success where those calls get answered. 

Thank you for the interview, Joe!  You are an icon in our industry and a friend to many!  See you at the Start Line soon...
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Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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