In between the workouts and video-game sessions that make up the NFL offseason, Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Eben Britton has taken on a new challenge.
It's unlikely you'd hear an NFL offensive lineman on the local NPR affiliate, but in Jacksonville at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night, you'll hear Britton calling the shots on his "73" radio show.
No, he's not talking Xs and Os, he's playing a collection of songs and poems based on a weekly theme. He has already recorded 11 60-minute shows and hopes to have 25 finished before the season starts.
How did you get into this?
A couple years ago, I happened to meet David Luckin from [the Jacksonville] NPR. At the time, I was growing a mustache for Movember, so he invited me to come on his show to promote the cause, and he suggested I bring some music to do a show with him. I had never listened to NPR before, but I started listening to his show after that and it inspired me, so I took him up on the offer. It was a lot of fun, and I realized it was something I'd love to learn more about. I've always loved making mixtapes and playlists, so I gave him a call asking if I could do it again and learn about producing a radio show.
Why not a sports show?
I have football, and I get to talk sports all day with the guys in the locker room. I want this to be a release from football, something that lets me get into my creative side and use the other side of my brain.
Where did your artistic side come from?
I was brought up with the arts and athletics like two sides of the same coin; both were a tremendous part of my upbringing. My dad was a painter and artist, so he used to have shelves filled with art books that I looked through as a little kid. And my mother was a writer. She worked in magazines and wrote a few plays.
How do you put a show together?
I decided to use music, book excerpts and poems that all wrap around a common theme. I was a creative writing major in college, so I like that. Plus, this way, it's more than just playing pop music. It's kind of intellectual. It makes people think.
How much time do you spend prepping?
I'm usually working on two to four shows at a time, and I'll prep for a week or so. First I come up with the theme, such as dreams. Then I'll put together a playlist around that idea -- songs that have dreaming qualities or extract that feeling. Once I make the playlist, I'll drive around all week listening to it and tweaking it and also looking for writing to go with it. With dreams, it was a no-brainer. I had Sigmund Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams," so I picked an excerpt from that, and I found a couple poems. They're always very personal to me. Sometimes I write my own poems, but most of them are others' work.
What are some upcoming themes?
I'm thinking about doing a Brooklyn show because I was born in New York City and lived in Brooklyn until I was 11. Also, I'm still trying to work out how to do it, but I want to do a multi-part show with the epic poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." It's like 80 pages, so I could do four consecutive shows with the story. It will have music, too, and be oriented around bravery and heroism.
After football, do you have radio or arts aspirations?
I want to play football for as long as I can, but I think a logical next step for me would be something to do with writing, film or art. I love playing football, and football is obviously my career at this moment in my life, but this radio gig is a great way to be creative and exercise the other part of my brain.
What's the best thing about doing this show?
I open myself up to literature I've never read and music I've never listened to. In high school, I was a music nerd. Every dollar I made would go to the Virgin Records store. But later on, I found myself bored with a lot of music. Thanks to this project, I'm inspired again to listen to new things and explore music. I'm constantly looking at what's new and checking out what people suggest. I even find songs from commercials.