Featured Blogger: Alex Balcerski of Ride the Pine
Blogger Alex Balcerski features the lighter side of sports on Ride the Pine. The site brings energy and fun to sports news with entertaining posts and videos added each day. Keep up with the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter, as well!
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
A: I started blogging and developing Web sites back in 2005 when I was the co-host of the Scotty and Alex radio show. I developed our website and wrote the daily recaps of our show with pictures, links, etc. The engagement with our audience over the web was somewhat rare during that time in radio so it helped us achieve success at our first station in Atlantic City, NJ and generated enough of a buzz to grab the attention of the brass at CBS Radio and eventually landed us at WYSP in Philadelphia doing 4-hours of talk every weeknight. I loved every second of it, we talked pop culture, news, sports, worked with all the major Philly sports teams and interviewed some really cool celebrities. When the talk radio landscape started to shift in 2007, I found myself without a job and struggling to find a creative outlet. It was only natural to head to the internet and I developed a couple of websites including RideThePine.com.
Q: How do you think your blog stands out amongst sports blogs?
A: The most unique thing about RideThePine.com is our video show (creatively called) Ride The Pine. I originally started the Web site to feature this 3-5 minute show that would focus on the lighter side of sports, the best videos of the week, and my (poorly crafted) jokes. After just a few weeks, it was featured in iTunes as a “New and Noteworthy” podcast. There is not another sports blog out there that does a video show like ours.
Q: What do your family and friends think of your blogging?
A: I was explaining to my mother the other day how the site has just exploded over the past six months and she said, “I always knew you would be famous.” My mom always thought my radio show was a little too dirty and constantly ignores the fact that our show reached millions of people every night in Philly. On the other hand, my wife can never understand why anyone even goes to my site (haha), but she is unbelievably supportive and puts up with a lot of ESPN watching. My friends just keep getting annoyed that I clog up their Facebook feeds with my links, but there is nothing more satisfying than putting out an article that gets a lot of likes and comments from my friends.
Q: What blogs do you read?
A: For sports, there’s none better than Deadspin. They are constantly breaking news and write some amazing featured articles. I also check out Barstool and Terez Owens for some of the gossipy stuff.
Q: How much time daily do you spend blogging and watching sports?
A: The first thing I do every day is watch Sportscenter and I record PTI (Pardon the Interruption) every night. Tony Kornheiser is endlessly funny and entertaining. If I have a day off during the week, I always watch First Take on ESPN 2. Skip Bayless is the best. When I get home at night, I always have a game on in the background (doesn’t matter which sport, as long as its live). I always try to be the first to write about a crazy play, breaking news, or take a screen capture of a hot spectator in the crowd. But purely blogging and working on my site, I would say between 2-3 hours a day.
Q: How many times have you redesigned your blog since it started?
A: I think 4 or 5 times, I would be embarrassed to look back at some of the earliest sites. Right now, I’m using WordPress Themes from Elegant Designs and they are top notch and at a great price.
Q: How much do you correspond one-on-one with readers?
A: Everyday. I respond to every comment on my site, on Facebook, Twitter and email. Building the relationship with the audience is the most important part of what I do. If they didn’t come back, I would be writing to no one!
Q: What joys did you not expect when you started blogging? What pains?
A: The joys of blogging takes me back to my radio days and developing creative material that will engage an audience. I just love getting the feedback about how good (or bad) one of my episodes are of the Ride The Pine show! The hardest part about blogging is that first year. People always tell you that you have to struggle through your first year before you start developing an audience. I remember spending hours coming up with material and than getting about 20 visitors a day. But it is more than just writing articles, I spend the majority of my time promoting through social media outlets like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Q: What’s something your readers don’t know about you?
A: My full-time job! I’m keeping that a secret. Other than that, I’m an open book.
Q: Which sport are you most passionate about? Any favorite teams?
A: I grew up in the South Jersey/Philadelphia sports area so I’m a long-suffering Eagles, Sixers, Flyers and Phillies fan and even though the Philles won the World Series in 08′ they should’ve won at least ONE more by now. Now, I live in the Boston area so I follow a lot of the New England teams.