The only good part of commuting to work on Mondays is ignoring the miserable fat dude next to me on the train, tuning out the woman talking too loudly on her phone, and watching the newest episode of The Nine Club. I have yet to be disappointed with an episode, and it has nothing to do with the guests and everything to do with the conversations Chris Roberts and Roger Bagley muster up with some of the most influential people in skateboarding.
For anyone who knows The Nine Club, they recognize that it’s one the best parts of skate media right now. It’s the most comprehensive show out there today, satisfying skate nerds and 13-year-olds alike. To find out what makes the 9 Club work so well, we tried to dig up some of the secrets from Chris and Roger ourselves.
Someone commented on Rob Brink’s Instagram asking what happened to The Weekend Buzz and he wrote back, “Too many knockoffs right now.” How do you feel about that?
Chris Roberts: My whole thing is, your shit is your shit and our shit is our shit. There are other podcasts. In my opinion, we’re a completely different show from the Weekend Buzz. The Weekend Buzz was not a podcast. We’re a podcast. Weekend Buzz didn’t have two-hour episodes. They broke theirs into pieces. I don’t think anybody should stop doing anything if they love it. I’m sure there will be people who come along and do another skateboard podcast. They’ll see that we’re doing something rad and people are loving it and think, “Well why don’t we do it?” I don’t think anyone can replicate what we have. I wish Brink would keep doing it. We never came in to try and disrupt anyone else’s flow. We kind of came in by accident. I didn’t even want to do it at first.
Why did you even start the show?
Roger Bagley: Unemployment. When I worked at Dwindle I wanted to do a show similar to this with Louie Barletta, and I pitched the idea to them and they absolutely loved it. Then when I told them I wanted six cameras they were like, “Maybe we’re not gonna do that…” A few weeks later they laid me off and around the same time Chris started doing The Back Forty radio.
CR: Which we only did a couple episodes. It was hard to get me, Marc, and Kenny, together. But I bought all this equipment, mics and everything.
RB: When I saw Chris doing that I was like, well I don’t have a job anymore and I’m down to help, but Chris said we should do a show together.
What’s the timeline for making an episode?
RB: It takes four days to get the show to be ready to launch. We’ll shoot one day, I’ll spend a day syncing everything up, chopping out all the umms and ahs and bullshit that doesn’t need to be in there. Then I’ll pass it off and Chris will go through to create the story.
CR: We sit down and do the interview for three to five hours. There hasn’t been anything under three hours. We know we have a show within two and a half hours. After that, everything else is a bonus.
What’s the process of editing the show?
CR: Roger color-codes every block of conversation then I edit it. We have blocks. It’s like, this first block we’re talking about sponsorship and that’ll be yellow. This second block we’re talking about flying to Paris and that’s blue. It really helps me with my editing. I love comedy and—this is not taking away from any other editor, especially Roger—but I feel like I know those comedic points to edit to.
Everything is timing and I really wanted to be in control of telling the person’s story.
Do you ever send your guests a preview before you publish? Do you allow them any edits?
CR: Yup, we send each guest a rough cut of the episode before it airs. If you do an interview with somebody, and it’s recorded, you should be able to filter yourself enough to not talk about certain things, right? Doesn’t always happen. Some people get carried away, they go too far, talk about stuff that maybe they didn’t really wanna talk about.
We had this one guest, he’s a street skater, and he said something about not liking bowl skating. I didn’t think anything of it. To me, it just sounded like a street skater saying he’s just not into skating bowls, which is fine. But when he watched it he was like, “Agh, God, I sounded like I was talking shit about bowl skating.” And I was like, “Really? I don’t think so.” So he asked us to take it out and it was no problem. I always just think, it’s their episode. It’s their show, so I want them to be completely fucking hyped on it.
Why did you call it The Nine Club? Are you guys secretly related to Street League somehow?
CR: No no no, not related. I think it sounds like a talk show, right? That’s pretty much it. It was funny because I think when we came up with the name, that was one of the things where I was like, “Dude, people are probably gonna think we’re associated with Street League.”
But then I was thinking to myself, “Well cool. If they Google ‘Nine Club’ we’re gonna come up in the searches. That’s a plus for us. But it was never really like, “Oh we’re gonna name it after Street League, this is gonna be great.” We just kept coming back to that name.
Did you pick that name because you both want Street League trophies but know you’re never gonna get them?
CR: I know Roger’s never gonna get one, but I have a chance at least.
Are there any shows you listen to that influence The Nine Club?
CR: What got me sparked on podcasts initially was Serial. I think it really set the tone, in my eyes. I think podcasts kind of blew up after that one. But then I started listening to Startup, which is about starting up a business. And with both of those, I felt like the first season was better than the second one. Then I listened to Michael Rappaport’s podcast, I Am Rappaport. He’s heavy into sports talk and he’s just hilarious.
I kind of stopped listening to a lot of them recently. Maybe it’s like when you get hurt skating and you don’t wanna watch skate videos. But, I pay for Sirius. I pay for Howard Stern so maybe I just want to get my money’s worth. His guests are always so good and he’s probably the best interviewer on the planet. He can make the most boring person interesting. He’s the greatest interviewer of all time in my opinion.
How has Howard Stern influenced your show?
CR: Kelly’s button is definitely influenced by Howard Stern because Baba Booey [Howard Stern’s producer] sits in his office and has this little button he pushes to chime in on conversations. That was where I got the idea to put Kelly in the corner. That button was not overnight. It took three weeks to find, order online, and build. I went to Home Depot and I bought some hot glue guns and now it’s sturdy. You could drop that fucking thing. The whole idea was to not have Kelly talk so much. Now he just holds the goddamn button down the whole time [laughs].
Howard has a really good way of getting people to open up…
CR: Well sometimes people don’t want to talk about stuff, and I get it. We’ll always get comments on our show like, “Why didn’t they talk about that? I wanted to know about this!” If every one of our guests were as open as whoever, we could have talked about anything and everything. I recently heard Jamie Foxx on Howard and he was just no filter, totally whatever goes, and I really loved that. I think it just opens up the show and the interview and they can just have fun and talk about stuff.
Those interviews stand out to me where you’re like, “Wow, he was really going there.” And I think that’s what makes The Nine Club great too, is when people are just open and willing to talk about everything. We don’t dig at people and try to force stuff out of them. But that’s why our show’s good too, is that it’s not an interview, it’s a conversation. If we don’t touch on something, there might be a reason why we don’t. If you knew the backstory, you’d know why we didn’t.
When you had Marc Johnson on, did you feel pressured to talk about Mike Carroll stuff?
CR: We did feel a little pressured before. MJ wanted to touch on it, which we expected. We were like, “Cool. We know this is gonna be your first interview after the whole thing so you should have a voice.” Also I felt in a weird position too, because I’m boys with Carroll, I skate for Chocolate, I’m boys with Marc, so I felt like that was kind of in between. I just kinda shut my mouth and let him talk. I didn’t try to dig for more. MJ was like, “I don’t want to start a whole thing. I’m just gonna talk about my side a little bit and that’s it. And we can just move on.” MJ was definitely sensitive being on my show, but I think it turned out great. He said he wants success for everybody and that it was just a little drop of shit in his big glorious bucket of gold or something like that.
Do you want to take the show to a point where you’re making money?
CR: From what we hear from people who work with ad revenues, it’s a hard game. We don’t make shit from YouTube ad sales. We have to be getting millions of views for that to mean anything. We get ad revenue, but it’s maybe enough to pay for a cell phone bill. People are always like, “Monetize for ads! Do this! You’re gonna make a lot of money!” And you’re like no, you don’t, you’ll maybe make 50 bucks per episode.
RB: It took us thirty episodes to get enough money just to buy a couple shirts and hats.
CR: There are certain things we wouldn’t want to do. Do we want to compromise the show by getting in bed with Vitamin Water who wants to put a big Vitamin Water wrap on the table? Sometimes that’s what these companies want, so you gotta find that perfect fit. The sponsors that are like do your thing, drink our drinks, put it in the background, talk about it, and we’ll support you. That’s the perfect fit.
I made a joke the other day, I was showing somebody the intro of an episode and an ad came up and I was like, “Who the fuck puts ads in the beginning of their videos?” And then the Nine Club logo came up and I was like, “Oh, we do.”
So you haven’t been approached by any brands that want to sponsor the show?
CR: No, but we get skate shops wanting to put a board in the background or a skate company asking how they can get on. We’re not gonna take money from a skate company or a skate shop. If they send us their stuff we’ll put it in the background, we’re more than happy to.
RB: I’d rather steal fucking Stella’s money.
CR: We have a lot of moving parts over here so any little money that we can make helps. Roger’s gotta buy hard drives, and there are just little things that cost money. Any little monetization or penny we can get, we cherish. We need it. I mean, this is the first time in my life where I’ve actually had to think about this kind of stuff. And think about, I don’t want to jeopardize the integrity of our show.
Would you wanna get support and get a paycheck from a bigger media company as part of that? Like ETN or Transworld?
CR: My motto is, “Always take the meeting.” Always hear what people have to say. Every media outlet in skateboarding approached us when we first started doing it. They wanted to bring us to their channel. We didn’t even entertain that. We said, “Nah, we’re good. We’re just gonna do this by ourselves.” Because guess what, it’s 2017, you can do anything you want on your own nowadays. You literally don’t need anybody’s help. Yeah, if we went to Thrasher, RIDE Channel, Skateboard Mag, Transworld, we could have started off having 20,000 views. To us, it’s like, let’s just build this thing and whoever is interested is gonna come and watch it.
Is there an exit strategy or do you just do this to say you’re a part of skateboard history?
CR: That’s a great question because, at the end of the day, if we wanna make this program and offer it to people, we need to make money doing it. We already have a bunch of ideas and stuff that will bring us to that level. Think about it: the more money that is coming into your business, the more rad shit you can do, right? So the more money that we’re making and the more comfortable that we’re living, Roger doesn’t have to go out and do 20 jobs a month instead of focusing on this and making a living off of it. The sky is the limit.
On the flip side, the more money your business does bring in the more responsibility it takes to maintain that business.
CR: That’s true too. And if you think about, “Oh, Skittles is gonna give us this X amount of money a month.” Okay cool. Now we’re growing our business and growing it. And then all of a sudden Skittles is like, “You know what, we can’t do this anymore so we’re gonna pull out.” Now we’ve grown our business so much and we’re spending all our time and money on stuff, now we’re fucked.
Now you have to find a new Skittles just to keep it going.
CR: Yeah, I mean look at what happened in the shoe industry when PacSun pulled out.
What’s it like having fans who know you from the show more so than your skate career?
CR: I always trip out when thirteen-year-old kids come up to me and say they love The Nine Club. Like, you’re thirteen, bro. Dudes our age listens to podcasts. But there are kids out there that wanna absorb everything about skateboarding. People think that these kids have the attention span of a flea and they can only watch one minute of content. I think it’s bullshit. If you’re putting out entertaining content and captivating content, people will watch it. If it holds you, you’re gonna watch it.
Now, not only are the fans coming up saying, “The Nine Club, The Nine Club,” but pro skateboarders are coming up. It’s pretty trippy when your friends and other pro skaters are constantly talking about your show. You can have a new video part but that’s only going to last a week or two when your peers are coming up to you saying how much they loved it. Then it’s gone.
What’s the process like for getting Lil’ Wayne on the show?
CR: Spanish Mike’s boy Yo Yo skates with Lil’ Wayne and they told him he should do this skate show. Lil’ Wayne can get up from an interview in five minutes. He’s kind of notorious for it. I didn’t know if he would stay there for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, two. I was trying to hurry up and I was kind of hyper. But after a while, he started laughing and we were just shooting the shit I was like OK, he’s chilling for a while.
He just loves skateboarding. I was blown away by how much he knew and how much he loves it. He knew the switch flip manny! That episode went kind of viral in the music industry. Every website that dealt with music picked up this story about Lil’ Wayne releasing a new project called The Funeral which he mentioned for like 30 seconds. It was this 30-second thing that I had no fucking clue about. I could have edited that part out. I had no idea that people would go crazy over him mentioning this one little new project. I wondered if he did that to hype up the show.
Did he bring an entourage?
RB: He brought his fucking blunt roller. He was sitting in the other room rolling joints for him all night long and smoking them during the show.
Have you ever had phone sex before?
CR: [pause] …Yeah!
Which Nine Club host has the best phone sex voice?
RB: I’d have to say, Kelly. He’s been slaying it lately.
CR: I hate my own voice, so it was funny to see people commenting on it. Even Reda commented on my sexy ass voice.
You have a good voice. People always talk about it. I was like, “Damn, this guy would kill it on phone sex.”
CR: Ohhh maybe that’s how I can get my income. Maybe I can just become a phone sex operator. Dude, if you play this interview back to yourself you’re probably like, “Oh God, my voice is so crazy.” And that’s how I feel! I don’t like my voice. And then I started getting these comments like, “Yeah, a voice made for radio,” “Aw, his voice is so good,” and I’m like, what the fuck? Are you serious? I hate my voice.