Senior Copy Editor
UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) sports might evoke the image of raucous soccer games where students can partake in the tradition of launching tortillas into the air. Sports fans, however, will know that the campus sports scene has much more to offer than drunken tortilla-throwing. And for those who want an inside look at the coaches and athletes behind some of the biggest teams at UCSB, KCSB Sports’ “Up, Up, & Olé” podcast is likely to be your best source.
Marketed as being “for Gauchos, by Gauchos,” the podcast began in April 2019 under an initiative by UCSB Associate Athletics Director Bryan Cornet. Inspired by a similar podcast at Cal State Long Beach, Cornet reached out to a student who he knew could bring his vision of an in-depth and personal campus sports podcast to life: fourth-year political science major and KCSB Sports Director Max Kelton.
“They just said, ‘We want to do a podcast, and we’re going to let you do it. You have creative freedom,’” Kelton shared in an interview with The Bottom Line. “So from the first episode, we weren’t exactly sure what it was going to be yet.”
Kelton was joined by his co-host, fourth-year cultural anthropology major and Daily Nexus Sports Editor Omar Hernandez, in October. The two hosts are no strangers to sports coverage at UCSB — in their respective positions, they’ve covered every single Division I sport on campus for the greater part of their college careers.
Together, the two host a weekly podcast that consists of two parts: a round-up of each week’s campus sport happenings, and an exclusive interview with a UCSB coach, athlete, or notable alumni. The podcast’s interviewees and topics are scheduled to align with major sports seasons and events. Coverage isn’t limited to traditionally popular sports, as the hosts also aim to showcase the achievements of other lesser-spotlighted sports teams on campus.
“‘Up, Up, & Olé’ gives fans that deeper look that we really haven’t had before. When we do interviews, we share information that humanizes these athletes and coaches, which makes them more relatable and opens up the world of UCSB athletics for the fans,” said Hernandez.
That sense of connecting players to their fans is a central theme for the podcast. From episodes that center on a swimming athlete’s emotions around water to a coach’s mentorship philosophy to an interview with a legendary basketball alumni on his newly released fiction novel, the podcast covers a wide range of topics related to Division I UCSB sports. At the heart of each episode, however, is the idea of telling the human story behind the people who drive sports culture on the UCSB campus.
The current era of UCSB athletics has been marked by major successes across nearly all sports, Hernandez shares, which means that the need for a podcast that provides inside coverage is increasingly relevant.
But producing the podcast is no easy feat — the process of creating each episode takes around eight hours per week. The two hosts are part of a team of only three individuals who write, produce, edit, and publicize the show on top of being full-time students.
Interviews take place on Monday and Tuesday mornings, and when the hosts aren’t interviewing, they’re recording their weekly recaps. Editing then takes place the same night for a Wednesday release. Kelton stresses consistency and reliability as one of the goals of the podcast: providing listeners with quality content at the same time and day every week without fail.
As for what’s ahead? As a senior and founding host of the podcast, Kelton reflects that it’ll be difficult to let go of the podcast when he graduates. The podcast has grown immensely over the past 10 months of its run, with 37 episodes recorded, over 2,400 downloads on Podbean, and a growing social media following.
Episodes have been recorded anywhere from the KCSB studio to dugouts to the top of Storke Tower, and the show has become an important part of an ongoing dialogue between sports fans and the key players that drive the sports culture on campus.
The podcast’s future past Kelton and Hernandez’s graduation is still uncertain, but Kelton believes that the show serves an important niche in sports coverage at UCSB and hopes that it will continue long after his years on campus.
“We want to give fans an opportunity to really see players — not just at their proudest moments, but also at their most vulnerable moments,” said Kelton.