016: Jack of All Trades, Master of Plenty with Josh Brogadir
He gets paid to read, one of his greatest passions! This audiobook narrator of 34 books is a long-time colleague of mine. Josh Brogadir is a professional broadcaster for WCVB TV in Boston, voice-over talent, actor, former teacher, coach, husband, and father. Is there anything this guy can’t do? His love of reading and sports started with Sports Illustrated and the quizzes his teacher mom would pop on him as a child.
by Malcolm Gladwell
by John Carreyrou
by Andy Weir (Author), R. C. Bray (Narrator)
Full Podcast Transcript
00:00:11] Recorded live from the Sweet Tea Studios in Wellesley Massachusetts. You’re listening to the podcast, Why I Read Nonfiction. Hosted by broadcaster and author of The Perfect Catch and Follow the Dog Home. Here’s Kevin Walsh.
[00:00:29] (Kevin) Hello. Welcome to the program. We got a good one for you today. One of my favorite people in the world, one of the most interesting people in the world, is in studio with us. We’ve been working on this for quite some time. His name is Josh Brogadir. I’ll get into his background in just a minute. But first, I want to ask everybody a favor. Like the podcast. First of all, subscribe to the podcast. It’s easy and it’s free and leave a rating there because that’s how we grow. Also, thank you to Nirvana on beautiful Cape Cod. If you’re looking for a vacation rental getaway on the elbow of Cape Cod, a beautiful newly restored home coastal themed home on a freshwater kettle pond that sleeps 10, Nirvana is your place. And our discussion today, for a full transcript and links to all the books that we talk about they’re available on the website Why I read Nonfiction.com. So just listen. Don’t worry about taking notes. Everything you need is at a one stop shop: Why I read Nonfiction.com. All right. Time to welcome in Josh Brogadir. Now, Josh we’ve known each other for, what, nine or ten years?
[00:01:35] (Josh) Yeah, easily, Kev. Great to be here, by the way. Thank you so much for making this happen. (Kevin) Well, I’m glad that you insisted that you come to the Sweet Tea Studio so we could be face to face and we could talk and have something to eat. Have something to drink. We co-anchored before. It’s like we’re doing it again. (Josh) I know. It’s like our backgrounds in some ways.
[00:01:54] (Kevin) We should have known each other a long time ago because we have similar interests in broadcasting. Let me see if I can get part of the list right.
[00:02:01] You are a sports reporter, a sports anchor, a news reporter, a news anchor. You’ve been a news producer as well. (Josh) Yep. (Kevin) You are Mr. Broadcasting, are you not?
[00:02:14] (Josh) Well, I’ve done quite a bit of broadcasting, but, you know, I do a lot of other things, too, as we know or we’ve talked about a little bit. I think of myself as somewhat of a jack of all trades, master of none. And as long as I’m not botching all those things, then I’m I’m okay. (Kevin) School teacher as well? it was your first job out of college? (Josh) That was yeah. I was teaching in a two way bilingual program at Walsh Middle School, Framingham, Massachusetts, not knowing a whole lot about how to do it. I still was able to relate to kids, coach football, basketball, teach adults at night, speak Spanish. It was great. (Kevin) Born and raised where? (Josh) Woodbridge, Connecticut, right outside of New Haven and a little between New York City, a little between Boston, right on the road in between. (Kevin) Living now in suburban Boston, where exactly? (Josh) Norwood, Mass. Yeah. Southwest suburbs on the road to Gillette. Those are nice mornings when you can wake up and drive 10 minutes and you’re at the stadium. (Kevin) Married with children. Yes, kids 10 and 8. Married to my lovely wife, Becca. Yeah. (Kevin) And she is a school principal? (Josh) She is. Yes. She has the harder job of the two of us, in fact. She takes on the burden so that I can play in various broadcasting, acting, voiceover realms. (Kevin) OK this is more additional stuff about Josh. He is also an actor. He’s a professional voiceover person. He is the narrator of how many books have you narrated before? (Josh) Working on my thirty fourth audio book, now 34 books. (Kevin) Oh, my God. Well, at the root of it all and for all of our guests is a love of reading. And I know you love to read. (josh) I do. (Kevin) Where did it start?
[00:03:52] (Josh) One little note on reading and how much I love it. Imagine if you’re an audiobook narrator. The concept of you get to read and critically analyze books as part of a job. I mean that in and of itself is great. I realized after listening to a lot of audio books that that’s what I really wanted to be able to do. Hey, hold on a second. I mean, I get paid to read and actually record myself? So that has been thrilling. My love of reading, no question, came from my mother. She’s a longtime teacher, recently retired first grade for most of her career. And she definitely instilled that love of reading in all of the three of us kids, different genres.
[00:04:30] And as you can imagine with a sportscaster, you’re going to know where this is going. Some of your guests have before I was right in the middle of Sports Illustrated every week religiously.
[00:04:40] Also. (Kevin) I was too. (Josh) And it wasn’t so much about the box scores. (Kevin) For me, it was the stories behind the stories. And I can remember specific quotes from different stories. I’ll give you an example. Do you remember Ken Norton, Junior? (Josh) Absolutely. (Kevin) Whose father, Ken Gordon Senior, was a professional boxer. (Josh) Right.
[00:04:59] and Ken Norton Jr’s on the Cowboys, linebacker for the 49ers.
[00:05:03] (Kevin) Right. And so he they were stars in their own regards, but in different sports.
[00:05:07] So naturally, because they shared a name and they shared an affinity and just being very good at sports, people naturally thought that father and son were very close. But there was something of a disconnect, and there was maybe some misinformation out there. But I remember reading in Sports Illustrated, Ken Norton senior was saying, for those that don’t think I was close to my son, “I had his poop on my hands” and they blew that quote out. So that may sound childish, but I think what he’s trying to do for us is paint the picture. ‘No, I was there. I was changing this boy’s diapers.'” (Josh) Absolutely. (Kevin) So for somebody to say that I was I was not around as a parent. I had his poop on my hands. And I just thought that was that was brilliant.
[00:05:52] (Josh) Yeah, it is. And to tell you the truth, I love the storytelling aspect. And I’m sure we’ll talk more about that and how that really relates to life and also my reading.
[00:06:00] But as a kid, I mean, I was picking up, my mom realized that what I needed to connect with was a sports junkie-stuff like Zander Hollander’s , Complete Book of Baseball, Basketball. I mean, I am diving in stats. I am locked in my memory is Lance Parrish, 1984, 33 homers, 98 RBI. Like, who knows that stuff?
[00:06:22] (Kevin) Well was out with Detroit or was that with the Philadelphia Phillies? (Josh) It was with Detroit 1984, the year that they won. And that’s like one of my formative years watching the Tigers win the World Series in 84. I’m not a Tigers fan by any stretch, but I said, wait a minute.
[00:06:36] Sweet Lou, Lou Whittaker and Alan Trammell. I’m looking at this squad and oh, man, this is something I’m going to enjoy for a long time.
[00:06:43] (Kevin) Well, he was the stud when he was with Detroit, but when he came over in Philadelphia, he was an absolute bust. (Josh) Yeah, he was. That was the problem with it.
[00:06:50] So it was your love of sports. The reading you see your mom with a book in her hands is, is that like ‘Yeah I want to try that too? It was what I want this genre? Where did the love of sports come from? Or it’s just there and you don’t even know?
[00:07:04] (Josh) I credit someone of my dad and my grandfather for my love in sports. They both grew up in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Dodgers fans. The story, you know, is the Dodgers move out west and then they pick up the Mets in 1962. And that, I think, had guided a lot of it. I went to a lot of Mets games as a kid. Yale football games and local high school where my dad went powerhouse in Connecticut and Sonja High School. I forget how many state titles they’ve won, 15. And so I think I was just all about seeing sports playing sports and it translated into the written page.
[00:07:34] And my mom liked to challenge me as a teacher. She would actually have questions for me to answer. She would read the Sports Illustrated articles and for a little enrichment she would write down questions for me to answer and go through it. I can remember to this day one time I got a question wrong and I was so frustrated I couldn’t find it. Why? Because it was in a caption in the photo that she was asking me about as opposed to in the text of the article. This was some of my formative years.
[00:08:01] (Kevin) What were the rewards for getting it right?
[00:08:04] (Josh) I don’t remember any specific buy in rewards from her. I think she knew that they would really just be something I’d be intrigued to do. I’ve always wanted a challenge and there I was, a little kid answering questions after reading the essay articles.
[00:08:18] (Kevin) Our guest today is Josh Brogadir. Josh is a sports reporter, a sports anchor, a news reporter and a news anchor for WCVB TV, which is the ABC affiliate in Boston, Massachusetts. He’s been around the world.
[00:08:31] He speaks two languages. Do you speak Hebrew as well? Can I make it three? (Josh) I speak a bit. I can read, but I would not describe myself as fluent in Hebrew. (Kevin) OK.
[00:08:40] Do you remember the first book that you read that had a profound impact on you? Not so much that it changed your life, but where you said I need more of this in my life and it still sticks with you to this day?
[00:08:53] (Josh) Yeah. You know, the book that I’m thinking of right now, I was thinking about this question in advance of coming here. And one of the books that has guided the way I’ve been reading and the way I’ve been thinking about things is the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. (Kevin) I read it, too. It’s fantastic isn’t it? (Josh) It was I read it like right after college right in that, like, you’re inquisitive, you’re trying to figure out what it means to be an adult and how you’re going to find things out. And then here’s this guy making all these amazing connections for you on sort of why little things can add up to big things.
[00:09:23] And I mean, I’ve read all of Gladwell’s books. In fact, I listen to a lot of them because he narrates them and he has his podcasts. But I just, that really struck me. There are some examples in that book and we can go into them that are really to this day, I think. Okay. Yeah.
[00:09:36] That’s why. (Kevin) Well, what about 10,000 hours? Have you done 10,000 hours at anything to become an expert? Because that’s what he believes in The Tipping Point to be an expert at anything, you have to do it 10,000 hours. He used Tiger Woods as an example. I think we can just, that’s that’s a given. (Jsoh) Right. (Kevin) He’s an expert at golf. Right. He talked about was it Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, one of the computer guys?
[00:09:59] (Josh) Yeah. And actually, I don’t remember which one, but certainly it was one of those guys. Yeah, I think it might’ve been Gates. Gates was a kid and he was kind of in his dad’s computers.
[00:10:07] (Kevin) Yeah. Were in working in his garage and all the time that he spent programming. The one that I remember more than anything was the Beatles. (Josh) Yes. I did not know all the time in Germany. (Josh) Hamburg, Germany! (Kevin) How is that? So are you a music musician as well? (Josh) Yes I’m a trumpeter. Yeah. (Kevin) OK, but being in bands and everything. How is that even possible to play that many hours and still have a voice? Because for those that go to lounge acts wherever they are, doesn’t the band play for like 45 minutes and then they take a 15 minute break because the voice needs a rest? (Josh) You would think it does.
[00:10:42] And the Beatles are incredible. And of course, that’s also how they accumulated so many songs, not just playing them well, but playing them and how many they actually did and added to their catalog. But their time in Hamburg was these five, six hour long shows and they just kept playing.
[00:10:59] And they’re not alone in that. I have to say, Jerry Garcia, one of the other guys who I absolutely love and I love the Grateful Dead. Jerry used to play these shows when he was playing with the Jerry Garcia band, not with the Grateful Dead. He would do a two hour warm up, maybe a three hour show and a two hour post warm down. We’re talking about seven hours of music and with his fingers, all nine and a half of them playing the guitar and being able to do that. And that’s when you have that virtuoso quality that Gladwell describes, the 10,000 plus hours. Think of how many hours he played in the guitar to get to the level he did.
[00:11:35] (Kevin) How many books you have on the nightstand? Do you have a lot or you have a different place to to set them?
[00:11:41] (Josh) I have at least two on the nightstand. I try not to overwhelm the pile on the side of the bed as I wake up early in the morning. I’ve been working a lot of early morning show stuff to whack the alarm clock and knock them all over. But the question of how many I have, I’ve always got two in the rotation. I typically try to rotate between five different genres. My personality is something to grab a little bit of everything. We talk about the jack of all trades and Kevin, I go through five different genres. I try to tick off one at a time. So I’m going to tell you them.
[00:12:12] They’re fiction, non-fiction, classics, sports and news.
[00:12:20] (Kevin) So are these all going at the same time? Like you’ll just read a couple of pages one and then go to the other? Are they all active or they’re just there you go through one done with that move on to the next. How does it go? (Josh) Somewhere in between those two things. Probably what I’ll do because I listen to so many audiobooks. Right now I’m listening to Bad Blood, which is on an unreal book. (Kevin) And tell me about that. So that’s about the scam where you can check a person’s blood, but really, it’s not up to snuff as far as the science goes? (Josh) (Josh) One hundred percent.
[00:12:47] Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, this woman who dropped out of Stanford at age 19 or whatever it was, and took on this persona as if she was Steve Jobs, sort of running the show.
[00:12:58] And there was not much science behind it. And every time they tried to dig in, it was, well, we’ll show you the results later. So, yeah, like basically a pinprick of your finger is all you need. A lot of people don’t like needles. She didn’t like them either. The whole thing just blew up.
[00:13:15] And the guy who exposed to this guy, John Carreyou, reporter for The Wall Street Journal, did read up on it, I finished, by the way, with it. But I’m partway through. But some of his bosses at The Wall Street Journal were in the know that that the science wasn’t up to snuff, but they were investors, so they tolerated it.
[00:13:33] Well, the editorial board was sided with her about 17 months, 18 months or so before Carreyou actually started doing his own work as an investigative reporter. I, if that’s the case, I’m not there because I have a few more hours left. It’s possible that they were some of the investors, but the board were or some of the statesmen of all time.
[00:13:55] Henry Kissinger on her board and George Shultz and some of these bigwigs through diplomats and everyone said without fail. James Mattis, they said without fail. No, no. She is a visionary. She is the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs. And so they didn’t care in some ways about the science.
[00:14:14] (Kevin) They were a little derelict about their fact checking and everything because she was such a charismatic figure and persuasive in her own way. Hasn’t history told us about other people like that before? (Josh) Yes. (Kevin) But it makes for an incredible read, doesn’t it?
[00:14:27] (Josh) It does. And listen, in my case, I’m out. I’m really enjoying that. So to jump back to your question a little bit. So that is my current nonfiction that’s kind of cycling through. I’m almost finished with a book that I’ve been reading for kind of too long, which is A Long, Strange trip by Dennis McNally. He was that Grateful Dead historian.
[00:14:44] This is like an exhaustive 620 page book on The Grateful Dead that I’m finally kind of making my way through. And then I try to always for my audio books, I try to read the next book that I’m going to be narrating. In this case, it’s a children’s book, a middle grade book. For the first time I’m doing that genre and it’s called The Boogie Man by a guy named Shane Berryhill. And I’m fascinated by sort of what can appeal to a 13 year old kid.
[00:15:11] (Kevin) Our guest today is Josh Brogadir. Josh is a multitalented person. He’s a professional narrator of books. He is also a news reporter, a sports reporter, a news anchor and a sports anchor. He’s bilingual. He is the most fascinating man in the world. The Dos Equis has nothing on you. Big thanks to Nirvana for sponsoring the program. If you’re looking for a vacation rental getaway on beautiful Cape Cod, right by the elbow on a beautiful freshwater kettle pond, great for swimming, great for fishing. I was there just a couple of weeks ago. It is absolutely fantastic. Sleeps 10, a newly renovated coastal theme home in the perfect place on Earth. One of my favorite places of all, Nirvana. Let’s talk about the narration of books. Sure. (Josh) How many of you done? (Josh) So this is the thirty fourth that I’m working on now. (Kevin) How much of it is reading? How much of it is acting?
[00:16:06] (Josh) Great question.
[00:16:08] Reading is all about the pre reading. Right? Going through and in case of fiction, making sure that you know which character is going to sound a certain way.
[00:16:17] You got to get a full description. In my case, I highlight digitally. So I have read for the principal character then like a royal blue. Then I might go purple just so I can see the differentiation of characters. That’s the reading aspect. And you’re actually in the studio. It’s all about acting. It’s all about performance. It’s all about making sure that you are reading through a book in a way that somebody is going to say, OK, I’m not listening to somebody read.
[00:16:41] I’m in the book.
[00:16:43] (Kevin) It’s exhausting, isn’t it? (Josh) Yeah, it can be, especially with certain voices. In fact, earlier today I was working on this is a really big Scottish burr from this character, The Boogie Man. And he’s. He’s taxing. (Kevin) So how many. All right. Let’s just take that book, for instance. (Josh) Sure.
[00:17:00] (Kevin) How many times will you read it before you go in the booth and start acting and voicing it. (Josh) Really just once.
[00:17:08] And then as I go through the individual chapters, I do a quick skim. Before I start and I record.
[00:17:15] So I’ll I’ll read the whole way through because there are surprises. They do happen. One time I read a book and I found out a guy had a Texas twang on page 273 and I’d been doing him with, you know, a New York accent the whole way. So that’s a mistake. (Kevin) Oh, my. Did you have to go back and redo all that? (Josh) I did. Absolutely to be authentic for the author. That was a frustrating day. But for the most part, I do my research now beforehand. You live and learn. And with everything you do.
[00:17:41] (Kevin) Are you a fast reader? If you just pick up a book for pleasure, what would you say your rate is? I’m not saying words per minute, but compared to somebody, well, for me, it takes me about a month to read a book. If I’m having a good month, I might read, two. All right? How many books? What’s your rate of reading?
[00:18:01] (Josh) I think it depends on how much time in my life I can have to devote to it. If it’s a page turner, as they call them, the typical kind of fiction book, that maybe isn’t as challenging of a read. I in that case, will plow through that. Yeah, I can read that pretty fast. I could read then a couple of days if I had the time to do it.
[00:18:18] (Kevin) How do you find books? Aside from ones that are given to you that you’re paid for hire, and you’re just looking for a book? Do you rely on people for recommendations? (Josh) All the time.
[00:18:30] People for recommendations is one of the greatest way to find books. I also. (Kevin) Isn’t it though? (Josh) So great. (Kevin) People know who you are.
[00:18:37] Well, your friends your friends are your friends largely because they have similar interests. So wouldn’t their reading be about the same? Or, if not in the same store, but the same shopping center, right?
[00:18:50] (Josh) It would somewhat follow that way. I do have some friends who were more into things like fantasy and science fiction than I am. That’s not really my wheelhouse per say. But even when that happens, they say, you know what? I know you’re not really a science guy, but there’s this book called The Martian that you will absolutely love just because the storytelling and in that case, listen to the audiobook this guy RC Bray does these amazing accents in it. So you really believe in each of the different characters. So there can be characters, things going on and audiobooks that you might not hear in your own head if you’re reading it.
[00:19:25] (Kevin) But tell me about that. Are you appreciating the performance element of the guy that’s reading that? (Josh) No question. Yes, absolutely I am. And that’s another way to learn. You know, professional development is when you’re hearing someone else who’s a real pro do their thing. I mean, I want to tell you in you’re very generous and effusive with your compliments. So thank you. I’m not trying to bat them out of the air. But I am a professional narrator, having said that, I just dropped the name of a guy named R.C. Bray, who is just one of the top in the audiobook profession and gets these, you know, books who if they’re coming out from some of the biggest companies when that happens, those guys are the pros. Those are the absolute pros. And I can learn a lot from them.
[00:20:09] (Kevin) Given the choice, you have the book and you could read it because you have the time to do it. You have the desire, or you have the chance to do the same thing. Audio book. What are you doing? (Josh) Where am I? (Kevin) Wherever you want to be. (Josh) So I’m just saying you have the choice.
[00:20:24] The reason I ask that question is I have an audio book on the car every single time I get in it. I walk around the house and I have an audio book with my headphones on. If no one’s around and kids don’t need care, I have that on at all times. You can’t do that with a book. Obviously, that just makes it a much more challenging proposition. So I would say audio books right now. I’m probably listening to three compared to reading one book.
[00:20:47] (Kevin) Oh, so you are you are that guy that most of your books are through your ears. (Josh) Yes these days, I would say more so, yeah. (Kevin) Has that changed how you go about reading? Has the practice of not reading as much eyes looking at it and reading it in your head because you’re hearing it, has anything changed?
[00:21:10] (Josh) I don’t think so. I mean, I’ve been listening to audio books for a couple of dozen years now. I mean, that’s something that I, I was kind of early into them, you know. Books on tape and even with the cassette tapes and putting them in my old Camry driving around the high school. I mean, I don’t think there are many high school kids listening to audiobooks. And I certainly didn’t at the time, but I did
[00:21:28] (Kevin) Our guest today is Josh Brogadir. Josh is a professional voice actor. He is an actor. He’s a television broadcaster in many different ways. He’s also bilingual. He’s one of my friends. I’ve known him for a number of years. And for more information about Josh, where can they find you? Josh, just just the books that you’re reading. (Josh) Yeah. Probably the easiest ways is my website: it’s just www.joshbrogadir.com. (Kevin) Support Josh because believe me, if you’re looking for a good story, he’ll know what it is and he’ll tell it in the way that it absolutely deserves justice. As we finish up here. Josh, in part, do you got time? Can you stick around? (Josh) Absolutely. (Kevin) Can we do a part two? (Josh) Of course. So for more information about some of the books that we talked about with Josh in part 1 of this discussion, just log on to Why I Read Nonfiction.com. Thank you to Nirvana, a beautiful Cape Cod, a great vacation rental getaway right on the elbow so if you want more information about that and also a full transcript available at Why I Read Nonfiction.com . One other thing. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast leave rating and tell somebody about it. So we’re gonna say goodbye for just a minute or so. And then later on we’ll be back with Josh Brogadir for part two. So from everybody here at Why I Read Nonfiction, I’m Kevin Walsh for Josh Brogadir, we’ll see you down the road.
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