ESPN Daily podcast host Mina Kimes has Philly ties and an appreciation of Terry Gross
"Me and Dan Orlovsky were the only ESPNers to pick the Eagles," Kimes said. "So both of us are sharing in this stress."
These days, it’s hard to get excited about the launch of yet-another daily podcast. But it’s hard not to notice when its ESPN diving into the crowd.
On Monday, fresh off the highly-anticipated Sunday Night Football matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys, the sports giant will launch its new ESPN Daily morning podcast. Hosted by versatile rising star Mina Kimes, the new show will land every weekday morning by 6 a.m. and spend about 20 minutes focusing on one big ESPN story — essentially the sports version of the popular New York Times podcast The Daily.
“Some of them will follow big games and events, while some will be narratives, investigations, and quirkier stories,” Kimes told the Inquirer. “On top of that, I’ll have some space to do a little bit of commentary as well.”
Since her start in 2014, there are few areas at ESPN where Kimes hasn’t left her fingerprints. She’s a prominent writer, hosts a weekly ESPN Radio show and her own weekly podcast (alongside her beloved dog Lenny), and makes regular appearances on many of ESPN’s television programs and live Twitter shows.
But when it came to preparing for ESPN’s daily morning podcast, Kimes found herself drawn to the interviews of a celebrated host well known to Philadelphia radio listeners — WHYY’s Terry Gross.
“I think Terry is very good at something, which is while you’re interviewing someone, really, really listening to them. It sounds obvious, but I think sometimes it can be hard because with interviews — especially on-camera interviews — you tend to be worried about the next question,” Kimes said. “Terry is very skilled and is always prepared to go in whatever direction the interview takes you.”
Gross isn’t Kimes’ only connection to Philadelphia — she married her husband Nick Sylvester here back in 2015.
“My husband went to St. Joe’s Prep, and they’re from Montgomeryville," Kimes said. “He’s not a huge Eagles fan, but my mother-in-law is. She texts me all the time about the Eagles and how nervous she is. She wears her Wentz jersey everywhere.”
Speaking from her Los Angeles home where Lenny was running around like a lunatic, Kimes discussed the new podcast, her surprising connections to Philadelphia, and the weird Netflix show she and her ESPN colleagues are addicted to. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
How did ESPN decide that you were going to be the person to launch this new morning podcast?
I first joined ESPN as a features writer and columnist, and before that I was an investigative journalist. And the first thing I started doing at ESPN other than writing was podcasts. I had a regular spot on my friend Bill Barnwell’s podcast, which is sort-of an Xs and Os football show. That’s how I ended up going on a bunch of other things at ESPN — a couple of radio shows, I started doing Around the Horn, Highly Questionable?. But I’ve always loved doing podcasts.
When they started this and came up with the concept, they saw it as combining a lot of the different parts of ESPN. It’s sort-of a marriage of everything we do from storytelling to commentary, and I do a lot of those things. So it felt like a good fit.
Will you have the opportunity to bring in athletes and do direct interviews?
Definitely, we’re planning on doing some of that. And I plan on really experimenting with the form, not just doing the same type of story every day but potentially doing series, multi-day pieces, that sort-of thing.
How will you and your team approach the first podcast?
We’ll definitely be watching and thinking and talking. But we’ve already put in a fair amount of preparation, so we’ve got a lot of ideas and content in place so we’re ready to go. We won’t just be winging it after the game for our first podcast, but obviously the outcome of the game will make a big difference.
Are you still going to be writing, hosting your podcast, and appearing on TV?
I am, yes. Pray for me. I’m still planning on doing everything I’ve done, just with a different frequency perhaps. But ESPN Daily is my focus right now for sure.
With the podcast launching Monday morning, I imagine something on the Eagles-Cowboys Sunday night game would be timely.
We’ll definitely be watching and thinking and talking. We’re actually going to have someone on the ground down in Dallas, which will be really helpful. I’m excited for the game for the podcast, but I’m also excited for it as a football fan, because the playoff implications are so massive. By the way, I picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl before the season, so I’ve gotten pretty nervous lately.
I didn’t realize you picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl.
Me and Dan Orlovsky were the only ESPNers to pick the Eagles. So both of us are sharing in this stress... I thought the Eagles would be better, but they’ve obviously had a lot of bad luck with injuries.
Outside of sports, you hosted a show for The Ringer about HBO’s Big Little Lies. I saw the interview you did with your colleague Matthew Berry, so forgive me for swiping one of your questions: What is a podcast, show, or something else you enjoy that might surprise people?
I would say probably my taste in music, which I don’t really talk about a lot. I listen to a lot of post-punk and hard core. As far as TV and movies go, I really love Terrace House, the Japanese reality show on Netflix where not a lot happens. A producer here at ESPN got me onto it, and a lot of us are obsessed with it. It’s like Big Brother mixed with The Bachelor.