#BattleBorn with the Pack Center Student Sports Podcast

Jordan Berns (left), a sophomore from San Jose, and Garrett Hirschberg (right), a junior from Los Angeles, are the one-two punch of the newly rebranded Pack Center sports podcast. The new name? “It’s a play on ESPN’S Sports Center,” Berns said. “They cover a lot of stuff and that’s what we wanted to do but on the smaller scale of the university.”

Formerly known as JR’s Wolf Den, the Pack Center, a Wolf Pack focussed 30-minute sports podcast, doesn’t just have a new name — it also has a new logo, new social media, and a new purpose.

“Last year, the only thing we did social media wise is we would just share the link to our show on Facebook and that was it,” says Garrett Hirschberg, who aspires to a sports broadcasting career.

“When we started, we really had no idea what we were doing. It was just a lot of trial and error,” says co-host Jordan Berns, who also happens to be the nephew of radio shock jock legend Howard Stern.

“Garrett is like an encyclopedia,” Berns says of his co-host, and Garrett nods his head approvingly. Hirschberg is a fan of established sports broadcasters including Dan Patrick, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd and also of former NBA big man turned podcaster Shaquille O’Neal.

A Nevada Niche

Hirschberg says they’ve now found their niche. “This is perfect for us. There’s a bunch of other shows which talks about major league sports. But no one is covering Nevada sports like us,” he said as they prepared to record their first rebranded episode at the Reynolds School of Journalism.

“No one is going to care for the school like us. It’s an untapped market. It’s also trying to get to high school students who are thinking of choosing schools. This is an opportunity we worked towards. They might want to come to the Reynolds School of Journalism and pursue their own type of podcast,” he said.

“We have a special connection to the university,” Berns added. “This is our market. We go to class with the players. Reno is so unique. It’s so school-centered. We are marketing to all of Reno, all of Washoe County, not just students and faculty.”

Berns remembers drives growing up and listening to Howard Stern on the car radio and saying, ‘hey, that’s Uncle Howie’. He’s now charting his own broadcasting path and wants to leave Pack Center as a legacy.

Social Media Plans

An early success this year was a pregame video which they shot of Pack basketball star Cameron Oliver dunking, which they say “blew up” on Twitter.

Hashtags they’ve used include #battleborn, #beatunlv and #gopack.

“This is a student-run network, done by students for students. But a lot of people who engage with us on Twitter have been alumni, former players, and members of the community,” Berns said.

The two student podcasters are thinking of adding Snapchat game coverage, getting media passes to offer in-game videos as well as Instagram game-day pictures, and post-game articles.

New social media efforts include a new Instagram account, proudly displaying the #beatunlv beatdown.

Challenging Interviews and Seasons

They say the podcast, which is available on Soundcloud, and will also run Wednesdays at 12:30 on Wolf Pack Radio is still the ‘backbone’ of what they do.

“It literally drives everything else. If it weren’t for the podcast, we wouldn’t be doing the social media,” Hirschberg said.

The podcast itself though has not always been a smooth process.

“We want to eventually get involved with UNR athletics and have them recognize us as a legitimate show rather than this wannabe thing,” Hirschberg said.

“We did this interview with this women’s basketball player and it was really uncomfortable for me because their director for women’s basketball was standing in the studio with me, looking over my shoulder at my questions. I’d love where we could just send a text message to someone in athletics asking if we could get an interview. I’d love to be a bigger name than the Sagebrush,” he said.

A losing football team, they say, also contributed to a declining number of listeners this past fall.

Current Wolf Pack basketball success is a good thing for the podcast, Berns said. “They’re doing great. People are going to want to know more and more and more.”

Building a Winning Team

Hirschberg and Berns say they have started training other students to help with the podcast, but that they could always use more assistance, to help with videos and social media for example.

They also want to build a show which can outlast their own campus experiences.

“I want it to be something I can pass off to someone else when I leave,” Berns said, before getting access to the studio for the first 2017 episode, now available here.

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Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.