Around this time two years ago, Max Linsky picked the brain of renowned authors Gay Talese and Malcolm Gladwell within a few weeks of each other.
During a slow week in Berea this past summer, Linsky was on the other side of the desk again but this time with Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
The similarities, he said, far outweighed the differences one might perceive the two sets of conversations.
"Whether it's left tackle, a wide receiver, the president of the organization or the equipment manager or whoever we're going to talk to, these are all jobs people are doing that people are generally interested in," Linsky said. "I think people want to understand a lot more of the back stories, what makes them tick, how they got to where they are, the emotion, their personalities, their unique character."
"Brownscast," which debuts today with a conversation between Linsky and Thomas, plans to do just that.
A sports fan who always looked for the story behind the story, Linsky brings a fresh perspective to a Browns organization that is constantly trying to communicate with its fans and provide them with unique access to the players and people that make it tick. While the Browns have numerous media outlets that provide fans with in depth analysis of the x's and o's, this is an effort to tell stories with a different approach, utilizing an experienced journalist from the podcast world.
"These are people who go to work every day, they worked incredibly hard to get these jobs and they all want to come together hoping to win," Linsky said. ""I think that's what we're going for with the show, just to try to tell those stories and give fans some insight into not just what happens on Sunday's, but more of the human side and with an in depth conversational approach."
"Brownscast" episodes can be downloaded for free on ClevelandBrowns.com and iTunes. New episodes will be released every other week, as Linsky continues to sit down with current players, former players and other individuals throughout the franchise who contribute in their own unique and valuable way.
Linsky, a journalist who has worked in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, co-founded Longform.org in 2010 and launched the website's popular podcast in August 2012. Longform is usually ranked in the top 10 news podcasts and reaches over 2 million readers a month. Linsky jokes the first few episodes were rocky, but he quickly found his groove and has produced hundreds of compelling interviews with non-fiction writers of all genres.
"That's part of what podcasting is about," Linsky said. "In this case with the Browns, I'm talking to these guys for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour. Just the two of us alone in a room. I think as a fan of the team it's cool to really know the backstories of the people you're watching, know all the work and effort and sacrifice for the magic we see on Sunday."
Upcoming episodes of "Brownscast" feature interviews with Andrew Hawkins, who opens up about his wild and improbable journey to the NFL, team president Alec Scheiner, who takes listeners behind the scenes of how an NFL franchise operates as a business, and the legendary Jim Brown.
"I hope to give listeners the sense of who these people are," Linsky said. "Underneath the helmet and off the field."