By Eugene “Jesse” Nash IV
There are two Jewish students on this campus who may seem like humble sports fanatics on the surface, but few know that they come together once a week to produce a sports podcast featuring big-name interviews.
“Jew You Should Know” usually profiles one interesting Jewish student on campus, but sophomore Alan Soclof couldn’t run the Soc and Schopf sports podcast with 570 twitter followers without his business partner and friend Daniel Schopf.
The five-star podcast has featured many big names, such as Maryland Basketball’s Anthony Cowan Jr., Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko and Jorge Castillo, a former Washington Post writer. They were jokingly dubbed the “runner-ups to ‘This American Life,’” by Klemko, who is a Maryland Alum.
Schopf calls the show “a celebration of sports from our perspective.”
Soclof and Schopf recently released the 27th episode of their sports podcast with guest NBA hall of famer Rick Barry. However, their journey began two years ago during a gap year in Israel. Before then, they had never met, nor had they ever considered starting a podcast, said Soclof.
Soclof is a sophomore business major and Cleveland, Ohio native who loves everything Cleveland: the Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians. He chose to attend this university because of its thriving Orthodox community and prestigious business school.
Schopf is also a sophomore business major, but is from Silver Spring, MD. He said he follows his grandfather’s love for the New York Giants, Yankees, and Rangers. He applied to this university for the same reasons as Soclof.
During the Mevaseret gap-year program that the two spent in Israel before beginning university, they didn’t talk often, but when they did, they bonded over sports, Schopf said. Their gap-year program included day-long treks every few weeks, and it was during those trips that Schopf and a friend who now attends another university began making voice memos, often about sports, Schopf said.
Later in the program, the group spent three days hiking from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean, and Soclof offered his own opinions in the voice memos. Though the friend was only sending these recordings to his friend back home, Soclof said that people wanted to hear more of his own takes on sports.
In an airport on their way back to the U.S., Soclof said he teased Schopf that they should start a podcast.
But it didn’t start until the fall semester of their freshman year. They were both getting used to a big campus, new life, and Soclof said he was also dealing with “back problems” from high school sports.
Soclof and Schopf continued to bond over sports through coaching an intramural football team. Schopf said they irritated some referees through their gags and shtick, while others laughed. No other intramural team had coaches calling plays and frequently asking how many timeouts were left. Schopf even started wearing a business suit when the team promoted him to general manager.
Over their first winter break, Schopf found “Anchor,” an app that would let him instantly post recordings to Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
On Jan. 30, 2018, the pair released their first episode with no sponsors, no guests and not even an intro or outro song. They were just two guys introducing themselves to the podcast world.
Schopf introduced Soclof as a Cleveland fan. Then Soclof tuned it back to Schopf to talk about his favorite player, Stephen Curry, and his New York teams. Soclof said after that, the podcast took off “like a snowball down an avalanche.”
“It was just — kind of — pressing record on our friendship, pretty much,” Soclof said.
In just over a month, they hosted their first interview with the first ESPN ombudsman, George Solomon. Soclof had met Solomon at an event in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and he thought it was so cool to walk into Solomon’s office with his sports memorabilia.
Since then, “Soc and Schopf” has released an episode almost every week. Soclof said this streak was easiest to keep up in the summer, when they weren’t busy and could call each other from their home states. Their interviews progressed from sports journalists, to ex-NFL players, to Cowan Jr. The only major break in the podcast happened earlier this fall when Jewish holidays fell two weeks in a row before midterms.
Both credit their success up to this point to their cohesive friendship outside of the podcast. But they have also learned to strategically ask for new interviewees through various connections and brainstorm more than enough questions before an interview, and they have created an outline to transition from point to point. Soclof prides himself on his transitions in interviews.
Schopf agreed. “Alan’s transitions are legendary,” he said.
Their latest show includes intro music, a statistician and a news segment called “The Current.” Still, their friendship is stronger than ever and they continue to play on an intramural football team together.
“The best part is just chilling with Alan; just being able to talk about sports with someone I like to talk to,” Schopf said.