When Dave Waters first began recording a University of Florida Gators-themed podcast in 2016, it was just a hobby. He never expected it to explode in popularity -- skyrocketing from 100 listens an episode to 6,000.
Now, nearly three years later, Gators Breakdown has become a top sports podcast on iTunes. This week, Waters reached yet another milestone on his journey by cracking the one-million listens mark.
“It’s still hard to believe that former players I grew up watching, ESPN and SEC Network personalities, reporters … trust what Gators Breakdown is doing and hop on to talk Gators football with me,” Waters said.
Waters, 35, got his start at WJXT in news production in 2006. Soon, he began volunteering to shoot football games. Still, it wasn’t until 10 years later that he parlayed his love of the Gators into a podcast. These days, he's a commercial production manager for WJXT.
Bob Ellis, vice president and general manager of WJXT/WCWJ, said he encourages all employees to pursue their passion, and in Waters' case, that's tracking the latest developments in Gators football.
"There's no substitute for someone who cares about the subject they're covering," Ellis said. "That's been one of the secret ingredients in our station's success over the years. Our team really cares."
As Ellis points out, podcasts like Gators Breakdown are just another way for the station to connect with its community ‑ and a reflection of viewers' and readers' appetite for high-quality sports content.
"Our commitment to local sports content -- high school and college sports especially -- on all of our content platforms is the best it's been in years," Ellis said. "Dave's been a big part of that."
Graham Media Group’s podcast division partners with our broadcast television stations to create compelling, original audio content, bringing captivating stories to new audiences and giving listeners more stories to love. Headed by Zak Rosen, our podcasts have gained national attention with the popularity of the true-crime series Shattered, and the series Mismatch, featuring interesting stories about the incompatible, unsuitable and out of step. Learn more at grahammedia.com/podcasts.