Chris Bessey, left, Zach Keene, middle, and Chrs Bessey talk during their “In The Den” podcast recently. Submitted photo

Scott Bessey and his brother Chris, along with good friend Zach Keene, turned to social media and the airwaves when the coronavirus slipped into Maine and local and national sports scenes went dark.

The three coaches needed something to do with sports to alleviate the endless boredom of the COVID-19 quarantine. They worked together on an idea of producing a podcast called “In The Den,” which features a local flavor of chit-chat with other coaches and sports figures as well as ranting and raving about sports-related topics.

When Maine schools were forced to shut down in March, the three coaches went to work in Scott Bessey’s sports den. The podcast has since taken on a life of its own.

“Me and Chris have been talking about doing something like this for years,” Scott Bessey, the Spruce Mountain boys basketball coach, said. “Chris had this idea years ago, probably around 2008, 2009, then we started the screen printing shop and then 10-plus years go by.

“So when the pandemic hit, obviously all the coaching was done and schools were done. Our shop pretty much had to close down. This looked like the perfect time (to start the podcast). Me and Zach went back and forth on thoughts and ideas. I wasn’t 100 percent (certain) Chris was going to be willing to do it.”

But Chris agreed to join his friend and brother in the venture.

“You know, I got the technical skills, the software. I’ve got some experience in graphics design and editing video,” Scott said. “I knew if we could get good content, and if we could work together and figure out some good content that would be entertaining for everyone sitting at home not doing anything. Then I could put it all together with software and some of my programs.”

The three podcasters all agreed boredom was the driving force behind their endeavor.

“I knew if the format was going to be centered around interviewing sports figures, coaches and players around the state — you know, we are pretty connected — and I knew if we could get some interesting people on that a lot of people would like to hear their stories,” Scott said. “The interest has been great. It has be a lot more successful than I thought it was going to be.”

Keene, who coaches the Spruce Mountain girls basketball team, said they try to do one or two episodes a week, but the additional planning means all three of them get together over Zoom to discuss the next show. But the trio is not sure what day of the week works for their podcast.

“That has been kind of random,” Scott said. “We are trying to do some sort of testing and data to see what days, nights work better. So it is just random. We are not professionals, by any means. We are getting them done and uploading them and just getting them out there as fast we can.”

Scott uploads the shows to YouTube. The shows are also linked to the podcast’s Twitter account @In_TheDen.

“I would say social media wise, Twitter is probably on the forefront of sharing this stuff,” Chris said. “Anybody can go on YouTube and search for “In The Den,” and they will go right to all our episodes.”

Scott Bessey is a Detroit Lions fan and he uses his den, which he calls the Lions Den, to record the show.

“Coming up for a name of the show ‘In The Den’ … didn’t take a lot to come up with it — and it works,” Chris said.

All guests are interviewed over Zoom, Keene pointed out.

“A lot of the coaches are a distances away,” Keene said. “So with everything going on, Zoom is convenient and it works well.”

The enthusiasm for producing the show runs deep for the three coaches.

“Well, it started with boredom, I think the interviews with the coaches are pretty good,” Chris Bessey, who is the University of Maine at Farmington head baseball coach, said. “I think most of the coaches are very pretty open with the interviews. So I think that is the enjoyment of it. 

“People sitting at home can only watch reruns of the Red Sox 2004 championship only so many times.” 

Keene sees advantages networking with other coaches during Zoom meetings.

“So to be able to sit and talk with them and just listen to their stories … is like a free coach’s clinic every week,” Keene said. 

Chris Bessey said that when COVID-19 finally disappears, more opportunities for the show will open up.

“We wouldn’t be stuck on Zoom. We could go somewhere and actually do some taping. I think we talked about doing more after (coronavirus), if there ever is an after,” Chris said.

Scott Bessey pointed out that there is a disclaimer over the concerning COVID-19.

“We were worried at how it was going to look at us three together in the den together in the same room, sometimes in close proximity,” Scott said. “Deciding to do it during the pandemic was difficult. It was a hard decision to decide to do it. We had conversations about doing it remotely through Zoom, and I just think it wouldn’t have worked with the type of show we wanted to do. I think it is important to know we are not hanging out in the The Den 24-7, seven days a week. We film it and we get out. We were worried about some negative push back, and there hasn’t been.

“We put a disclaimer in every episode that we are sensitive to (COVID-19). It was a tough decision to make, but we try to limit it as much as possible. We are there for a purpose: to get it done and then get out.”


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