Three Port Washington students are using their time in quarantine to start something they’ve dreamed of doing.
Sam Rothenberg, David Silverstein and Mikey Capobianco, all rising sophomores at Schreiber High School, created the Crunch Time podcast in March, and since then they’ve broadcast regularly about their favorite subject, sports, which initially brought them together.
“I’ve been friends with David since sixth grade,” Rothenberg said. “We played sports and had a lot of classes together so we bonded through that, and we used to talk about sports in class and at lunch.”
At the same time, Silverstein and Capobianco met on a cross-country team.
“We’d be sitting together on the bus on our way to meets, and we’d be throwing around podcast ideas, since we both loved sports,” Silverstein said.
Capobianco said that he and Silverstein later started a radio show on Schreiber’s WDOT network, while Rothenberg started a separate podcast. Once the pandemic hit and shuttered the schools, the three began talking seriously about joining forces.
“Once school closed and we saw we needed a creative outlet, we called each other and said, let’s start this now,” Capobianco said.
Silverstein and Capobianco then set up pages for the podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Instagram.
“We figured everyone would be at home looking for things to do,” Silverstein said. “And we wanted to make it something that people would listen to.”
As they prepared to record their first episode, the prospect of starting something new led to “a whirlwind of emotions,” according to Silverstein.
“We knew it would be challenging at times,” Rothenberg said.
“We were nervous, because it was our first time, we had never podcasted together, but it was exciting because it was starting,” Capobianco said.
With each of the three set up to talk together from their bedrooms via Zoom, they recorded their first show, which discussed the effects of the coronavirus on professional sports, and published it on March 15.
Twenty-two episodes and 1,000 confirmed listens later, the hosts are seeing a success they never expected. They have conducted interviews with figures like NCAA soccer champion Rio Hope-Gund, street basketball player Larry “Bone Collector” Williams and former NCAA champion and Washington Wizards player Daniel Ochefu.
The three say that their favorite moment on the show was interviewing Chris Copeland, a former signee with the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks, in an episode published on May 2.
“Once we were thinking of doing the show, we were considering interviewing athletes, and being on the air with [Copeland] was hugely special for me, since I’d been a fan of his for six or seven years,” Capobianco said.
“That was really the first time we perfected our chemistry,” Rothenberg noted.
All three do have their own ideal interviewees, though – Silverstein’s is LeBron James, Rothenberg’s is Carmelo Anthony, and Capobianco’s is Derek Jeter. But a serious pursuit of those big names will have to wait until the world reopens and they can record in the same room again.
“That’ll be exciting for us, once we’re in the same room,” Silverstein said. “At that point, we’ll just be having a conversation about sports with each other.”
For the near future, the three aim to grow their audience and take on topics that fans their age might not consider.
“We don’t want to just report, we want to start taking on more mature topics that adults would talk about, like student athletes dealing with transition to school, discussions about steroids,” Capobianco said. “Getting a teenager’s perspective will be new for some people.”
Rothenberg adds that having the support of the community is important, and all three agree that their example could inspire people.
“We’re 15-year-old kids with dreams, and it’s important for us to have the backing of the community,” Rothenberg said.
“We know we’ve made the best out of this time,” Silverstein said.
“A lot of kids have dreams and they have things in the back of their heads that they fantasize over,” Capobianco said. “We were the same way, but we went out and did something. So go out … push yourself to the max. And if people listen, all the better.”