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The Cycling Podcast celebrated its fifth birthday just before the 2018 Tour de France and if you had told us back in June 2013, when we gathered in a central London park to talk into Richard’s iPhone, that the podcast would be where it is now we wouldn’t have believed you.
After that preview of the Tour de France, we headed to Corsica to record daily episodes and, as we attempted to capture the flavour of the race, we watched as our audience steadily climbed. After the Tour, listeners asked us to carry on and so the weekly episodes continued.
In 2015 we introduced the Friends of the Podcast series of exclusive feature-length episodes for subscribers to generate the funds to secure The Cycling Podcast’s short-term future and achieve our aim of improving the quality of our episodes and the breadth of our coverage.
Sponsorship from Science In Sport and the support of Friends of the Podcast meant we could provide daily coverage of the Giro d’Italia for the first time in 2016 and Rapha signed up to sponsor our coverage of the 2016 Tour de France. That has led to two very happy, long-term relationships with companies that are at the heart of the sport. That support, in turn, enabled us to add daily coverage of the Vuelta a España in late summer 2016 and in 2017 we were on the ground in Spain for the duration of the race for the first time.
At the start of 2018, we increased the cost of being a Friend of the Podcast to £15 per year and that helped us to give the Women’s Tour the Grand Tour treatment and to develop the first season of Explore, our spin-off show which focuses on the worlds of bikepacking and endurance riding. Our determination is that as we attract further funding we will continue to broaden our coverage and give opportunities to people to make podcasts as part of The Cycling Podcast family.
We have frozen the cost of becoming a Friend of the Podcast at £15 for 2019, although you can pay more if you want to. You don’t have to, but the more we are able to raise ensures we can keep producing more than 150 free-to-air episodes each year and can keep access to the Friends of the Podcast programme for the majority down to £15.
People may wonder what we spend the money on and, unfortunately, now the story of Richard inadvertently ordering a £90 bottle of wine covering the Giro d’Italia is in the public domain, listeners may have a false idea of how we run things.
Although the regular podcasts are free to listen to, they are not free to produce. The cost of travelling to races, payment of production staff and contributors to the podcast, recording equipment, the cost of hosting thousands of megabytes of audio files all adds up. The Cycling Podcast is not owned by a major media company, we are independent, and so we have to raise every penny we spend either by sponsorship or from our listeners.
We hope that people consider the Friends of the Podcast episodes to be excellent value for money. We guarantee at least 11 feature-length episodes per year, which works out at about £1.36 per show – about the price of half a cup of afternoon caramel moccacino topped with whipped cream. In 2018, we produced 14 feature-length episodes (two of which were two-parters), plus nine episodes of Kilometre 0 from the Giro d’Italia, the six-part Espoirs Diary series and a few shorter bonus episodes from the Women’s Tour and Tour de France. That’s a total of 32 episodes and works out at less than 50p per show.
In response to a request from several listeners, Friends of the Podcast can pay more if they wish, and those extra contributions go a long way. This year, we asked our biggest supporters to propose ideas for a Friends of the Podcast episode and the winning suggestion was the two-part How To Retire episode, guest edited by listener Stephen Harris. It went so well, we hope to do something similar in 2019.
We think the 2018 collection of Friends Specials was the best yet. Among the highlights were Richard’s moving interview with Jean Bobet, the former professional rider, author and brother of Louison Bobet, three-time Tour de France champion from the 1950s. Katusha rider Ian Boswell kept an audio diary for us at the Tour de France, and Conor Dunne and Larry Warbasse recorded their bikepacking adventures as they tackled their self-styled No Go Tour. Lionel travelled to Belgium in search of The Pink Panther – Belgium’s last grand tour champion – and sat down for lunch with former world pursuit champion Colin Sturgess for a conversation that was at times raw and revealing. We also brought you the six-part Espoir Diaires, recorded by young riders Calvert Churchill and Keira McVitty as they learned the ropes in Flanders.
We have plans for a great 2019, and we hope you will want to sign up as a Friend of the Podcast not just to support us but to listen to the results of that planning.
Thank you for your continued support.
Richard, Lionel and Daniel
Q: That all sounds great, but before I sign up…can I listen to special episodes on my favourite podcast app?
A: Yes of course, just click the button below for a step-by-step guide.