Poker is prevalent when you look at the television listings but, lacking for a few one-hour programs, radio has been left out of the mix. What would it take to have a 24/7 radio station that did nothing but poker? You needn't ask that question anymore as "Hold 'Em Radio" is on the air.
Actually, "Hold 'Em Radio" (holdemradio.com) has been on the air since April of 2005. It is a broad mixture of talk programs and live tournament broadcasts that attempts to bring the game to all players of all levels of experience, whether they are in online poker rooms or a physical casino settings. It brings informative strategy discussions, interviews with some of the biggest names in poker, breakdowns of Internet and live poker tournaments and even some bawdy talk and fun to go along with the mix.
I had a chance to speak with Wade Andrews, the owner, producer and operator of the Internet's only 24/7 poker radio station and found there is much more to come from "Hold 'Em Radio".
PN: What was the idea that led to the creation of "Hold 'Em Radio"?
WA: My own personal radio background and experience was something that made me think it would work. I was at the forefront of the Internet radio age back in 1996, when it was extremely difficult just to have streaming audio! I've always played poker and seriously began playing both online and live in the last three years. When a local radio station asked me to do a one hour show for them, the light bulb went off in my head that a full-time poker radio station would work. It's been a great ride so far and we're looking towards an even better future.
PN: How much original programming comes up during the week?
WA: We have eleven programs that are on the schedule currently, which gives us at least eleven hours of live programming during the week from a variety of hosts. We also have re-runs of programs from each show and also re-air tournament broadcasts and interviews.
PN: What kind of diversity does each host bring to their programs?
WA: All of the hosts have differing levels of experience with poker, from only a few months to former professional players that are passing along their experience. We take a look at the women's angle of the game with "Lexxy On The River" hosted by Lexxy Taylor. She really goes in depth on how women can become competitive in the world of poker. "Burn And Turn" features Darin and John Michael and they take a lot of really great questions about both live poker and the online game. They have both played at a really high level and bring their experiences to the listeners. All of our programs and hosts each bring something special when they are on the air.
We run the gamut of the poker world, because our listeners are such a wide spectrum of people. We'll get into freeroll tournaments, the differences of live and online poker, things along that line. It's a great mix of information for the listeners.
PN: What do the listeners seem to be interested in when the call, live or online poker?
WA: Generally it is a pretty healthy mix. Lots of players ask about live situations, whether they played a hand correctly or not, and we give a lot of discussion to those situations. We also talk quite a bit about online players going live and the difficulties that they may face with the differences between the two areas.
We also get into playing styles quite a bit. Some people are really interested in playing styles, whether you play the people or the cards. Lexxy, for example, is very much an advocate of playing people rather than the cards. John Michael, on the other hand, is a former pro who knows the nuts and bolts numbers behind situations. It makes for some very stimulating discussions.
PN: How difficult is it to do live tournaments without the benefit of the hole card cameras?
WA: It's pretty difficult, that's for sure! What we do when we broadcast either live tournaments or online tourneys is we analyze the player's styles more than anything else. You can pick up on those types of things and usually they are a good indicator as to what the player is doing. The excitement of hands is truly genuine when we do it live as well, as you get the crowd reaction along with our surprise as well. This makes for much more entertaining radio than what television does six months after a tournament is played.
We've also done some of the Canadian and International Online Poker League tournaments, which is something that one of our program hosts, Michael Stoddart, has created. They are freeroll events and they can be tremendously exciting tournaments to cover.
PN: Who are some of the guests that the programs have had?
WA: Greg Raymer was an entertaining interview. He offered quite a bit of information on the air and was a fun guy to talk to. Lexxy was able to interview Phil Gordon and he gave us a great, extremely funny interview which everyone here at the station had a great time with. We've also had on the air Rafe Furst, Norman Chad, T. J. Cloutier, Brad Reagan, the author of "Aces And Kings" and David Apostolico, who wrote "Machiavellian Poker Strategy". In the future we're going to have Susie Issacs on and comedian Carlos Mencia as well.
PN: What are the difficulties you faced getting "Hold 'Em Radio" going and how has the station changed since you started?
WA: In the beginning, it was simply the creation of the station. There wasn't a guideline or another station like it, so we really were flying by the seat of our pants in what the station would be. The technical side was also a great challenge as to do the format and things such as interviews right, we really had to get equipment that would do what we wanted to do.
Since then, it has been in gaining acceptance of the station and drawing advertising. The online poker rooms really didn't understand what we were doing with Hold 'Em Radio, but they are beginning to come around now and starting to advertise. People really didn't know we were around when we started either, but that changes daily as well. The programs we're aiming to put on are constantly evolving also. We want more programming on the air so we can reach a wider audience and continue to improve across the board.
PN: What are you looking to do with Hold 'Em Radio as you approach the first anniversary?
WA: The goal we have is to have live programming 24/7. We are also looking to do poker programs that look beyond just the United States, perhaps Australia and Canada as a start. We would like to make it just like a radio station with its focus firmly on the poker scene today.
PN: Is there a chance that you might leave the Internet for a satellite provider?
WA: When I first started Hold 'Em Radio, that was my thinking. I figured get it up, get it running and within about three years sell off to the satellite companies like Sirius or XM. Now, I'm not so sure. It's my baby and I really don't want to let someone else take it. So we're keeping our options open.
I want to thank Wade for the time spent talking about "Hold 'Em Radio". It is a very fun, informative station that really attempts to capture the poker scene and should be something that grows in the future and becomes perhaps a live voice for poker radio! To listen in to the new programming on the station between 7PM and midnight (Central Time) during the week or to catch past programs on what could be the beginning of a new poker phenomenon, be sure to "Shuffle Up and Dial In" holdemradio.com and listen to what happens next.
Ed note: Shuffle up and dial in....with celebs at Hollywood Poker