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Public Radio Host Goes Pro-Basketball — With A Podcast, Of Course


If you're listening to us on KUNC in Greeley, Colo., you know this voice.

KAREEM MADDOX, BYLINE: This is KUNC 91.5 FM, stories the matter, voices you trust. I'm Kareem Maddox. Thanks for being with us.

SIMON: Kareem Maddox - he's the local host of All Things Considered there, and he's making another career switch. Kareem played basketball at Princeton. After graduation, in 2011, he played pro basketball in Holland and the United Kingdom before coming back home to work in public radio. But after three years behind the scenes and behind the mic, he's back in the game. Kareem Maddox is going to move to Poland later this month and he'll play pro ball once again. Kareem Maddox joins us from the studios of NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.

MADDOX: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: If I saw the name of your new team in Poland and I had to pronounce it, I'd plotz. How do we pronounce it?

MADDOX: That's a good question. I still don't know.

SIMON: (Laughter).

MADDOX: We won't find out till we get there.

SIMON: I'll try Miastos Szkla Krosno (ph). How's that?

MADDOX: Sounds good to me.

SIMON: Now, apparently, this Polish team saw you at a showcase earlier this summer in Las Vegas.


SIMON: You must've done pretty well.

MADDOX: I did. I think I surprised some of the people watching because, you know, I have taken three years away from the game but got thrown into a group of 10 guys who have been playing. I surprised myself a little bit, but I think I found a love for the game that I had lost because, you know, you're not out there competing every day. And once, like, out back in the environment, you really don't even realize what you've been missing.

SIMON: Yeah. Could you detail for us the many similarities between working in public radio and playing professional basketball? (Laughter) I'm sorry. I couldn't keep a straight face, yes.

MADDOX: Well, you have to be on time.

SIMON: (Laughter).

MADDOX: You have to work hard. You just want to, you know, succeed and do well, put in your hours and see the results.

SIMON: Oh, boy, you really are politic. When you're playing for your team in Poland, would you like to keep a foot in U.S. broadcasting?

MADDOX: I would. I'm hoping to produce independent podcasts. I want to take what I've been able to learn from the great people in public radio and apply that and see if I can come out with something that's interesting. You know, I really like Anthony Bourdain, so some - maybe something in that vein. I mean, that's a little bit bold. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but, you know, something regarding travel and trying to immerse myself in a culture and people while playing basketball, you know, being a, quote, unquote, "basketball mercenary" as my dad likes to say.

SIMON: Looking forward to living in Poland?

MADDOX: I am. It's an interesting place, and I've never been and I never had really thought to go. So I've always appreciated being dumped somewhere where I don't know anyone, don't speak the language and you kind of have to figure things out and try to integrate and get around. So I'm looking forward to it.

SIMON: Is your coach Polish?

MADDOX: He is. Yes.

SIMON: I'm just going to guess he speaks enough English to say what the hell are you doing or something like that to his players.

MADDOX: Oh, yeah, they always speak enough English to yell, and they usually get the point across.

SIMON: Yeah. Final question - are you going to take a public radio tote bag along?

MADDOX: Of course, of course.

SIMON: (Laughter).

MADDOX: Can't leave home without it.

SIMON: Kareem Maddox, who loves this game, basketball and public radio, thanks so much for being with us.

MADDOX: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.