Andy Mitts – Host of Blue Wings Rising Podcast
About Andy Mitts:
Andy is a practicing actuary who is also an avid fan of sports. He is the President of Blue Wings Media, LLC, a company that publishes the site Blue Wings Rising on the Sports Illustrated Fan Nation Network, which he launched in February of 2022 after running a similar site for nearly 8 years. He is also the host of the successful Rock Chalk Podcast, and serves as the Vice President of Membership for the Ten12 Podcast Network.
Rock Chalk; Blue wings rising; Andy mitts
Alan Olsen: Hi, this is Alan Olsen and welcome to American Dreams. My guest today is Andy Mitts. He is the president and founder of Blue Wings Media. Andy, welcome to the show.
Andy Mitts: Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.
Alan Olsen: Andy, you’re a fellow podcaster. But before we get into currently, what you’re working on, for the listeners here, give us your background of your pathway, how you got to where you are today, what do you do on a day to day basis? And then what drove you to this podcasting world?
Andy Mitts: Yeah, well actually, I do podcasting is kind of a side thing is how it originally started. I actually have a day job as an actuary. So I’m working with numbers I’m working with, taking data and taking different things and translating them into things that people can understand. And so that’s where I kind of came from, originally. But I’ve always been a super avid sports fan. And I had decided pretty early, actually, back in 2012, that I was having trouble finding the kind of coverage that I wanted to see, right, like in terms of taking the information. And like, evaluating it in a way, I think that makes sense for a lot of people that allows people to take a lot of the data behind it, and actually turn it into something that that that people can readily understand. And so I kind of started originally just wanting to keep up with the teams that I had that I like. And so I kind of volunteered with a fan site that kept up with the Kansas Jayhawks, because that’s the teams that I cover. And decided that I was going to keep doing that, because I wanted to keep up with him myself anyway. And so it was a good synergy, right for me to, if I’m going to be following them, I might as well compile information about them and share what I’m finding with other people. And so really, it was kind of born out of the the passion that I have for following the sports world. And for the different teams that I have, and decided that if I’m going to be doing it anyway, I might as well turn it into something that I can, you know, get something out of whether that’s just the the ability to interact with other people who really enjoy the coverage, because that’s really where it started. And then it turned into a paid position where I actually helped start to run the site that I was doing that for, I actually worked there for for about eight years running that site before starting the brand new one that started earlier this year, which is what part of my the Blue Wings Media does is run the site BlueWings rising, which is part of the the Sports Illustrated fan nation network. But what I really decided I actually started the podcast about six years ago, because what I found was that I really enjoyed the podcast as a medium, I really enjoyed listening to things, especially while I was working at my day job. But what I did not find was there was plenty of podcasts for professional sports teams, for a lot of like science topic, a lot of different things. But it was difficult to find coverage for a lot of the programs that I was following. And what I quickly realized is that if I was looking for this coverage, I’m sure that other people were looking for the coverage as well. I like to talk about stuff all the time, I was a debater in high school. So I really enjoy talking with people and talking about nuances of different things and running through all of that. And so I figured if if I couldn’t find the coverage that I wanted, that I would make the coverage that I wanted. And that’s how I started the podcast was this is what I want to want to want to hear about. So let’s go find people that know about those things and bring them on and have a conversation with them. And then use that and share that with everybody so that the stuff that I’m learning by talking to people that are knowledgeable in their subjects can share that information with all of my listeners. And so that’s really kind of been the guiding principle of my podcast. And really the way that I that I do all the coverage that I do is, you know, I want to know the information. So I’m going to go find it. And I’m going to let you know what I found.
Alan Olsen: Yeah, in terms of getting down to the actual guests, are they fellow fans, you talk to the coaches, you talked to players who is a typical guests coming on your show?
Andy Mitts: It usually depends. I mean, I have some some other analysts that work with me that I bring on quite a bit. But usually my my philosophy has always been, and this serves me well as an actuary as well is that I don’t know some of the things that I don’t know. And so the best way for me to learn about a topic is to go find an expert on that topic. So if I’m talking about, say, an opposing team, I will go find someone who covers that team quite often. So either a beat writer, or a fellow blogger or, someone essentially who has looked at that team can give me the information and when I want to know something about them I might be like, Hey, I was wondering about this, you know, what are your thoughts on that? How does that translate into this situation based off of who, who this team has or who is available. And so really like that’s, that’s really the main thing is I’m looking for people that know specific things in a specific topic that I have for the whatever that particular episode is. So like, I have a few people that I bring on when I want to know about specific, you know, advanced statistical analysis type of arguments or different topics there. I typically will talk to beat writers, either for opposing teams or even for the Kansas Jayhawks. I will also talk with other people who have actually covered the teams I have had a couple players on in the past, I have had a few of the coaches on for some of the other less covered programs. For example, I had the tennis coach from from Kansas, come on. Yeah, that was a fantastic episode learned a lot about tennis, and how it works in the collegiate world, because I think that’s something that doesn’t get covered a lot. But that’s really what the topic typically is. I also have had some some book authors on before that, you know, have interesting books written about different various sports topic. So kind of talking about what spawned their book, why they’re doing it, those sorts of things. So it’s a, it’s a wild mix of, I think anything that would be useful for a fan of the particular teams that I cover, right to to know something that they would be interested in something that would give them additional information that can help shape the way that they think about the sports world, or think about how sports interact with their own personal life.
Alan Olsen: You know, Andy, I guess, in today’s world, Kansas Jayhawks seem to be most known for for basketball. The majority of your podcast focus on analytics? Or do you try to balance out with the other sports?
Andy Mitts: So I make it a point to cover as many different things as I possibly can? Because yes, that I mean, to be completely honest, there are a lot of really good college basketball podcasts that focus on the Jayhawks, because that’s, again, like you said, what they’re known for. And so while I definitely cover it, it’s definitely probably one of the more popular topics just because that’s what the audience is, I make sure to cover football, you know, in in the fall, that’s been rough the last few few years with the way that they perform. But, you know, I mean, I’ve had episodes devoted to women’s volleyball to, you know, women’s basketball, to soccer to all the other different sports that they have there. There’s only a few programs that I actually haven’t hit with their own episode yet. But I do know that it’s kind of my goal, like I said, is that, you know, those are the programs that don’t get the coverage. And every single one of those programs, I think, need at least some sort of coverage, it’s really hard to find it. That’s actually one of the the focuses that I think of the new website is going to be is that I’m really looking for opportunities to expand that coverage, to allow those programs that don’t normally get the spotlight on them to actually have that, that coverage that people can find. So, I mean, yeah, it’s definitely heavily tinted towards basketball, especially during basketball season, because that’s the kind of the current events that happen. But I make a point to not restrict myself just to the super popular things that I know everybody’s gonna want to listen to.
Alan Olsen: So your programs called Rock Chalk? How did you come up with that name?
Andy Mitts: It’s actually kind of funny because Rock Chalk is a very famous slogan for for Kansas Jayhawks. It’s a chant that they do at the end of games. When you’re passing another, another Jayhawk. It just out in the wild, essentially, you can really easily just say Rock Chalk, and everybody will know exactly what’s going on. And so I was actually kind of surprised when the named Rock Chalk podcast was available, because I would have assumed that somebody would have snapped it up at that point. But it just made a whole lot of sense. It gives you immediate, you know, recognition of what the what the topic is, if you if you know what sports are in, in terms of sports, if, if you’re familiar with the Kansas Jayhawks at all, you know immediately that this is probably a Jayhawk podcast. And so that was kind of what I was going for with it. I also had wrote previously at a site called Rock Chalk Talk and so it made the most sense to kind of keep it close to that because it was originally spawned as a way to supplement that additional coverage. But yeah, it’s it was just one of those kind of duh moments that made a whole lot of sense. Like this is a a name that ties in really, really well with the subject.
Alan Olsen: Where is your website found?
Andy Mitts: If you go to bluewingsrising.com That is the site that covers that has all of our print coverage. I do link quite often to the to the podcast episodes as well there. So you can cover or catch both of those there. It’s it’s absolutely fantastic to be able to get all of them in a single location.
Alan Olsen: And then how frequently are you posting on to that site?
Andy Mitts: We typically have two or three articles a day coming out on the website, we’ve been trying to do more with the actual NCAA tournament going on recently. But typically, usually though, there will be at least two or three updates every day, during the offseason, it’ll probably wane a little bit, because the only thing that will be happening will be spring football, or, you know, summer workouts or things like that. But as news comes up, we will be updating as often as we possibly can.
Alan Olsen: What is your source for the news, Andy?
Andy Mitts: So we typically look at the official press releases that come from the athletic department, we will look at kind of the other rumors or other things that are floating around from from anywhere in the department. So we will look at times that other what other beat writers are talking about. The goal that we have, though, is that we don’t want to just report things that are coming out that anybody can find on Twitter, or anybody can find, you know, just on ESPN as it comes out. The idea is to also include some additional analysis, because, again, we want to contextualize what’s actually happening. It’s not enough to just tell you exactly what’s happening like this is, you know, this, this person was named to this team. What does that mean? Why is that important? Why is that notable. And so really, it’s not just about getting out as quickly as we possibly can with this particular news dropped. Because that’s the other thing that I didn’t really like about traditional print media and why I didn’t go into it is because a lot of times, that is about the race to be the first person to talk about something. Whereas I don’t want to just talk about something to talk about it, I want to talk about it, because I have a meaningful, I have something meaningful to add to that conversation, to be able to contextualize it to let you know what it is that that means and why is it important for you to actually care about it. And so there will often be times where a story will come out. And we won’t actually talk about it until the next day, not because we don’t think it’s important to talk about it as as it’s happening, we will typically get that coverage over on our Twitter account where someone will make a comment about it, and we’ll kind of report it there. But if we’re if I’m going to take the time to write an article or someone on my staff is going to take the time to write an article about it. We don’t want it to just be a quick, here’s what happened, we want to be able to tell you what happened, why it’s important. And what it is that you should know about it moving forward and how it’s going to affect the way you think about things later.
Alan Olsen: So what are the parallels between actuarial work and sports coverage that you provide?
Andy Mitts: I always kind of thought that they were completely distinct until I got further along in my actuarial education. And what I’ve noticed, so for those that aren’t familiar, what actuaries do is mainly risk analysis, usually for insurance companies. But really what they’re doing is taking the data and contextualizing the data, and like looking for different patterns, but then identifying where those gaps are in the data that we have. So there’s a lot of work with statistical models, there’s a lot of work with additional, data sources, and trying to pull in things that don’t fit neatly into numbers and figuring out how they’re going to affect the numbers that you have. Sports is a lot a lot the same way, right, we now have very, very good statistical models that are thrown out there that have a lot of information, especially for basketball, I can think of, you know, five or six different models off the top of my head that people use, that are intended to be predictive analytics. What those aren’t able to capture typically are things like, you know, momentum, or the psychology of certain players or things like that there are factors that can’t be put into a quantitative model. And I think what an actuary kind of brings to the table that is trying to contextualize those trying to pull all that information, identify things that are important, identify things that seem to be noise, that don’t really make a lot of, you know, sense in terms of trying to analyze all of this and pulling it all together into a way that it makes sense. And, you know, the the presentation skills, which you learned as an actuary work really well with podcasting as well. Because when you are trying to present the information to people you have to identify which which arguments actually matter for the topic that you have, how do you present them in a way that it’s clear what’s happening? And then how do you show how important they are in terms of when you’re thinking about this particular topic? And so, there are definitely a lot more parallels than I initially thought; I came at both of these jobs with a statistical basis thinking about the statistics and and I think it works well the way that you look at those different The different numbers and bring all that data together the approach that you take for that I think marriage really well together.
Alan Olsen: So, Andy, when you’re doing all these projects and putting things together, how do you define success for your ventures? And when you when things are coming together, how do you know when you, you got the right formula there?
Andy Mitts: I think it really comes down to me. And and this is something that I’ve struggled with quite a bit. Because in print media, you know, in like, online coverage, podcasting, there’s a lot of push for, you know, you’ve got to hit these metrics, you’ve got to, you know, get all of these, like you, you have to show growth in this particular area, or else your show isn’t really successful. And what I came to find really quickly is that, you know, I started doing this because it was something that I enjoyed. While I definitely look for ways to grow the show that I have to grow the website that I have to provide that extra coverage, if I’m not enjoying the work that I’m doing, if I turn it into a decision obligation that I just have to turn stuff out, then I’m not going to be able to put the same level of quality into it that I really expect for myself. And so that’s what I defined to be successful. You know it as long as I am continuing to enjoy it, and I am starting to see movement in those particular metrics. It’s not about how far up they go, it’s that they’re moving in the right direction, and that I’m continuing to really enjoy what it is I’m doing. I you know, I told myself when I got started with this, especially when I went to go launch the new site, that if I get to a point where it just feels like it’s too much, right, like where I just am not enjoying it anymore, that it turns into something that I have to do instead of something that I want to do, then I can’t really consider it to be successful for me anymore. And I do think that that’s the biggest thing that a lot of people forget when they think about trying to be successful is that being successful in the way that the world thinks about it doesn’t do you any good if you’re not happy doing it, if you want to be successful. And if you want to be successful for the long term, then you need to find something that you enjoy, find something that you’re good at and find something that you can continue to develop in. And if you can do all three of those things, then you are going to be successful in whatever it is you tried to do.
Alan Olsen: Those are great words to live by. I’ve been visiting here today with Andy Mitts and he is the president of BlueWings media. Andy, thanks for being on today’s show. And for the listeners once again, give us your website.
Andy Mitts: Yeah, it’s www.bluewingsrising.com.
Alan Olsen: Thanks for being with us here at American Dreams.
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This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.
Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com. GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.
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