ESPN AudioPodcast

Sixteen-part Pin Kings series breaks new ground for ESPN Podcasts

ESPN's Pin Kings has television, print, digital and audio offerings that all will tell the same story but in formats that fit the specific audiences of each platform.
ESPN’s Pin Kings has television, print, digital and audio offerings that all will tell the same story but in formats that fit the specific audiences of each platform.
Pin Kings tells a dramatic story of two former HS wrestlers

Written and produced by ESPN The Magazine senior writer Brett Forrest and ESPN producer Jon Fish, Pin Kings tells the story of Alex DeCubas and Kevin Pedersen. Co-captains of their high school wrestling team in Miami, their lives took totally opposite turns before going full circle. DeCubas became the biggest trafficker of Colombian cocaine on the East Coast, while Pedersen became a DEA agent tasked with taking down the Colombian cartels and their American partners, which included his former teammate and friend DeCubas.

In one of ESPN’s most ambitious storytelling initiatives ever, this month’s multiplatform Pin Kings includes a first for ESPN Audio – an episodic presentation, 16 chapters, as it were, complete with a mystery building to a dramatic ending.

“Episodic podcasts are the latest frontier for ESPN Audio, a genre we’ve targeted but knew we could not enter without the right story, product and the resources and talented people of SC Featured behind it, to make the biggest and best first impression with listeners,” said Pete Gianesini, ESPN senior director, Radio Programming and Digital Audio Content. “Pin Kings is a compelling story, deeply reported and makes for a perfect episodic podcast presentation.”

To be clear, the podcast offering is not simply sound bites taken from the upcoming TV special and repackaged. It includes original and unique interviews, often with more in-depth reporting that the platform allows.

“Without the constraints of a one-hour television special, the Pin Kings podcast series is more expansive and detailed than repetitive,” Gianesini explained.

David Cummings, audio content strategist, credits ESPN The Magazine senior writer Brett Forrest and ESPN producer Jon Fish and their months of dedication to the project.

“I’m amazed at what Brett and Jon pulled off. It takes a unique talent to be able to write a compelling podcast script and produce a feature story for digital and print without either story replicating the other.”

Given all the resources devoted to the first-of-its-kind project, it’s no surprise it got off to a great start. After two days, it was No. 2 on iTunes’ Featured Sports & Recreation list and No. 24 overall.

“This project has many moving parts. The cooperation, synergy and promotion have been exemplary, leading to terrific results,” said Cummings. “I’ve read many favorable user comments on iTunes and hope the momentum builds as more people learn of Pin Kings and ‘binge-listen’ to catch up.”

The Pin Kings Timeline

  • Fri., July 31The Sporting Life on ESPN Audio previews Pin Kings
  • Mon., Aug. 1 — ESPN Audio Pin Kings series of 16 episodic podcasts begins
  • Thu., Aug. 18 — Pin Kings digital treatment posts on ESPN.com
  • Fri., Aug. 19 — One-hour Pin Kings TV special available on WatchESPN and ESPN App
  • Sun., Aug. 21SC Featured on SportsCenter previews Pin Kings television special
  • Mon., Aug. 22 — One-hour Pin Kings SC Featured special debuts 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Fri., Aug. 26 — Pin Kings feature appears in NFL Preview issue of ESPN The Magazine
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