Tate Frazier on Returning to The Ringer, Reviving 'One Shining Podcast' and Working With Bill Simmons
Tate Frazier is back where it all began, returning to the company that helped launch his career and is bringing back a podcast first aired in 2017. On March 2, Frazier announced he was returning to The Ringer after more than three years at Fox Sports. His first order of business is reviving One Shining Podcast. The show's long-dormant feed has been lit up over the past few weeks, as Frazier and guests have brought it back to life. But One Shining Podcast's revival will only be a small part of his return to The Ringer.
Frazier talked to The Big Lead about why he returned to the company he left in 2019. He also touched on how he originally got started with The Ringer, why returning made sense, what it's like working with Bill Simmons and moving forward without long-time co-host Mark Titus.
The Big Lead: What made returning to The Ringer an ideal fit at this point in your career?
Tate Frazier: Yeah, I think that's a really good question. It was one of those things where I got to The Ringer when I was 22 years old. I had a background in broadcast journalism and TV and I knew what podcasts were, but I wasn't a podcast connoisseur by any means. But I learned a lot when I was at Grantland as an intern, and got to The Ringer at 22 and was just kind of thrown into the fire and figured it out.
The four years I had there were great, I kind of viewed it as like, a post-grad school -- I went to Bill Simmons University. And I graduated from there and then I went out on my own. I needed to get my own experience, kind of to help my own feelings about my career and things like that.
TBL: So, you felt like you needed to go out and explore the business a bit?
Frazier: Just to test myself and I kind of scratched that itch. Then, I'm doing producing stuff and talent stuff, and The Ringer has both lanes available.
TBL: Did you still feel connected to the company after you left?
Frazier: I stayed in contact with Bill throughout the years. He would check in, he would tell me what he thought about certain things I was doing. I did a show with Wondery, a daily show, he loved that. I did the Five-Star series (The World of Five-Star) with my company and he really enjoyed that. So we had stayed in touch. And it was just a place that kind of felt like home on some level and I had a level of comfort. It's also a place where there is room for growth. There was also a baseline that I could connect my past with my present, because when I left, there was always a question of well, what happened there? Being able to come back in and show that it's on good terms, and be able to grow now in a new and improved version of The Ringer, it was just the perfect setting.
TBL: So you went out into the world and found your way back.
Frazier: Right. You learn who you are a little bit, then realize there's a reason why you were where you were.
TBL: You were the first employee of The Ringer. What is Bill Simmons like as a boss?
Frazier: Well, I mean, Bill as a boss, he just kind of turned into a mentor. When I first met Bill, I was delivering things from ESPN after he was banned from coming to the office. So on Fridays, I would load up my 4Runner, and I would drive from downtown LA to his house and would just unload stuff into his pool house. And then one day -- it was actually his birthday -- I went over there to unload my typical load of BS paraphernalia and he was there and we just kind of started talking about the ABA. I'm a kid that was born in 1993, but heard a lot of stories about the ABA. My great uncle had the scoring record in North Carolina, so I'd always hear these stories just about the Carolina Cougars and the Virginia Squires. So I'm talking to Bill about all that, and he's like, "What's going on? Why does this 22-year-old know all this stuff?" So we kind of just hit it off. And he gave me his book, The Book of Basketball and wrote a little note to me and was like, "Hey, hopefully we'll cross paths in the future."
TBL: You produced The Bill Simmons Podcast for four years. How did you land that job?
Frazier: He had his audio board and everything in the back, and he told me, he was launching a new podcast. I just set everything up for him. It was the least I could do, and then I left on that Friday. And then he called me a couple days later on Sunday and said, "Hey, I told you about launching this podcast. I know you can do production stuff, what do you think about being the producer of my podcast?" I was at Grantland at the time working on Jalen & Jacoby. (David) Jacoby had taken me under his wing. So I was I was just like, "Wow, this is an amazing opportunity, but I also need to run it by Jacoby." But the answer was unequivocally yes, of course.
Then I started working with Bill in his pool house doing The Bill Simmons Podcast. Then we launched The Watch with Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald. I produced that podcast. Then we launched Channel 33, which was kind of a combination of a lot of the talents Bill was hiring. I was doing all three phases of production. All-in-all, I ended up launching and editing 30 different shows during my time there. So I just got a wealth of experience.
TBL: What has Bill meant to your career?
Frazier: As far as like the relationship with Bill, when he met me he asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, "I want to have this talent path, but I want to have a production path." And his wife was there, she heard me say that she said, "Oh, so you want to be like Bill." And at that moment, it clicked that this is the perfect person for what I want to do in sports media. I love having the voice of a fan, but I also covered (events) as a beat reporter and had to be objective and went to journalism school and I am a journalist. So I wear both caps, similar to how Bill does. So as far as having the perfect guiding light, he was there. And we hit it off. He took me under his wing like family.
TBL: Reviving One Shining Podcast has to feel like a full-circle moment. Other than producer Kyle Crichton's tattoo, what made you want to go back and do that show?
Frazier: Well, the answer, like you said, is Kyle's tattoo. I mean, as soon the opportunity was there, Bill reached out to me and was like, "What's going on with you? What do you want to do?" I love college basketball, I love talking about college basketball, but I love talking about basketball at large. The Ringer, in my opinion, is one of the best places when it comes to talking, discussing and dissecting the game of basketball. So, Kyle's tattoo was first and foremost the priority.
I mean, I created the show. I created the RSS feed of One Shining Podcast, I made the music for One Shining Podcast, these are all the things that are precious to me. It was an IP that I appreciated. I liked the name, I liked the brand of OSP. Then Bill just said to me, "This can be your playground. This is a place that you're comfortable with, we're going to give you your leeway to creatively do what you want to do."
I couldn't even believe it when Bill suggested the idea. I didn't even think that was something that would even be in the cards -- that I could even come and take back over OSP. From there, it's just been so rewarding because I got to keep some of the things that meant a lot to me and it's somewhere I feel comfortable. It's nice to be in a place that feels comfortable, and a space that I enjoyed and helped create.
TBL: Mark Titus has been your co-host for years on both One Shining Podcast and Titus & Tate. Has it been strange doing shows without him?
Frazier: It's strange in the sense that when it was Titus and I, I didn't have to do much prep. We were at the point where it was so plug-and-play that I showed up to the Fox studio, we would not talk to each other sometimes just because we were saving it for the show. That was kind of our mantra: save it for the podcast. I think that's why it had such a special feeling to it, because it was two friends coming together to talk about basketball. It created this beautiful thing. And yes, it's strange not to be able to have Titus there to talk to you on-the-air, obviously. But I still feel like I can talk to him about college basketball off-the-air. And I told him when the paths were diverging, that I always want to talk college basketball with him, and that I'm always going to be available if he wants to talk to me about college basketball.
TBL: Why was the chemistry so easy between you two?
Frazier: It's funny, two people from totally different places but feeling so similarly about one thing. And, if you do anything with someone for six years, whether it's date somebody or whatever it is, you obviously have a love for them moving forward. So that's how I feel. I always knew Titus could be a star on his own. I was always aware there could be a world in which the both of us deviate paths. I have nothing but excitement for what he's going to do, and I'll support him and I'll listen and that's all I can do as a former co-host and a friend.
TBL: What changes do you anticipate from hosting a show solo?
Frazier: Well, the good news is in The Ringer universe there's so much support and there's also a lot of the talent. I have, luckily, a plethora of talent to kind of pull in and that's what I want the show to feel like, So one show is going to be guests, which will be the second show of the week, and then the first show will be with Kyle Mann. And Kyle Mann is someone from afar I enjoyed his work, I loved his videos, the deep dives that he has done for The Ringer. So I was a fan and he's a Kentucky guy, so we've got the blue bloods in common and I think having the consistency with him on the Tuesday show will create a routine. I hope he and I do on the Tuesday show, and then that Thursday show will be guests. It'll be guests within The Ringer universe and guests outside The Ringer universe.
TBL: College basketball has a long offseason. Do you anticipate talking about other things once the season is over?
Frazier: As we get in the offseason, it' will be all types of people. Like I said, it's kind of like a nice playground. Because, living in Los Angeles -- I've been out here eight years -- I've been able to meet a lot of cool, creative people. Just being able to bring them into that world and be able to have The Ringer universe that to pull from, it's an ideal setting. Obviously, there is this learning curve that comes with it. But I don't expect to be Colin Cowherd talking to myself for three hours a day. That's not really what the show is gonna be. Luckily, I'll be able to have people come in and out
TBL: Other than One Shining Podcast, what to you anticipate doing for company?
Frazier: The Ringer has a first look deal with my production company (Figures). So as we have projects, they will be run through The Ringer, or if The Ringer needs help producing things, now I can produce them through my company. Which is ideal. That was the other part of this move that made a lot of sense, as far the the the growth of my production abilities and being able to work in tandem with The Ringer. That's ideal. And that's what Bill does, at a very high level. Things like Music Box that he just did or working on documentaries is kind of what the goal is. And a TV series -- which The Ringer has an interest in, obviously, with Ringer Films.
TBL: So you'll have your hands in a lot of things?
Frazier: Absolutely. And then there's the FanDuel TV aspect of it. I'm going to be a host on a TV show. I love the idea of hosting. The OSP, college basketball aspect of it was kind of a plus-one. Being able to get back where I could be producing content with Bill. That was great. The TV aspect with FanDuel TV -- Wow, that's an amazing opportunity. And the podcast. I'll take the three-headed deal any day of the week.