IUPUI Journalism alums Rob Peeters, B.A.J. ’18, and Josh Roller, M.A. ’20, met and became friends when they started working together at the IndyStar in 2018. Soon after, they launched the Racing with Rob and Roller podcast. We talked with them about their show:
1. Why did you decide to start the podcast?
Roller: “We had a strong common interest in motor racing, and we spent many Friday and Saturday nights in the IndyStar newsroom talking about everything racing. I pitched the idea for the podcast to Rob in April 2019. I wanted to do a podcast to exercise our knowledge and observation skills of motor racing in a way that could be heard by those who don’t know us. Podcasts are a dime a dozen, but I pitched to Rob that it would be great to put on our resumes as a ‘Hey, listen to this and see that I know my stuff’ to potential employers. I was fully aware that I might not get a job right away after graduating – and didn’t – and the podcast has given me, and Rob too, an avenue to stay connected to motor racing. Ultimately, that is where we want to be for our careers. I later took a contributor position at Frontstretch.com and completed an internship at Charlotte Motor Speedway after graduating from IUPUI, but the podcast has been constant and kept me in touch with the motor racing world. And I still believe the podcast is serving the roles in which it was conceived.”
Peeters: “At the IndyStar, [Josh and I] would have so many conversations about racing that I’m pretty sure we didn’t get scheduled together because there was a fear that we wouldn’t get work done. Of course, that wasn’t true as we are good multitaskers and always finished our tasks on time.
I had always wanted to do a podcast because I always had a love of radio. I listened to Dan Patrick in the morning on my way to school and then Query and Schultz every afternoon on my way to work. I always loved the combination of banter, jokes, storytelling, and news that those radio shows brought to the table. I felt like Josh and I had great conversations at work, and I saw an opportunity to turn those conversations into on-air chemistry. I think we’ve established our show as fun-loving but opinionated. To me, I think that makes for some good radio.”
2. How do you split up the work for the podcast?
Peeters: “Josh is the greatest partner with whom I’ve ever worked. He keeps a rundown of the week’s news stories, race notes, and the show segments. He emails it to me and then I fill out anything I want to include as well. We collaborate a lot on segment ideas and try to make each show unique to that week. I’ve learned a lot from Josh and I think he’s learned a lot from me.”
3. How do you come up with episode topics?
Peeters: “Josh and I are usually on the same page with topics. We follow the same racing series and racing types, but I watch a lot more niche and development racing series than he does. We usually text back and forth while we watch races to get some basic discussion going. Those text messages usually end up being much longer conversation pieces. Normally we share the same view on certain topics, but there’s also times where we disagree. It’s typical that our disagreements are saved for the podcast so the discussion is livelier, and listeners can hear our genuine reactions.”
Roller: “The topics for our episodes come from the previous week’s news and events. The majority of the show’s flow is dictated by the news cycle and what happened on and off the track. How long we spend on topics depends on how strongly we feel about them and what impact a moment or news piece had on the weekend or the future.
After the opening, Rob will typically share news points of the previous week – Rob’s Racing Report. Then we share our Featured Paint Scheme of the week. After that, Rob and I dive into the Top Takeaways from the races we want to cover.
After the Top Takeaways, Rob and I go into the Weekend Wrap Up. Here we read the winners, maybe say a note or two, of the races we didn’t cover in the Top Takeaways. After the Weekend Wrap Up, Rob and I share our outstanding performance of the weekend. We each choose a driver, team, individuals, or a combination that we felt had a great weekend, race, or contribution.
We then head into the Up Shift / Down Shift segment. I come up with four questions, sometimes more. Rob has contributed questions to this segment on his own, and if I have struggled to come up with one that is worthy of discussion at the time. The questions can be news or race-related or may even be a hypothetical scenario. If we upshift, it means we agree, downshift means we disagree, and Rob and I can throw it into neutral if we can’t make up our mind or don’t have enough information to give a definitive answer.
The second to final segment is named Roller’s Featured Racetrack, and I have recently introduced Roller’s Featured Race. I pick a track or race and tell its history, albeit brief. Rob has taken this segment in the past, and in fact, will do so this month to share Indianapolis 500 related history. When Rob takes over this segment, I take over the news segment, changing it to Roller’s Racing Report.”
4. What do you like most about doing the podcast?
Roller: “Aside from doing a podcast with a friend who enjoys racing just as much as I do, my favorite part of the podcast is the sense that I am contributing to the sport I love more than any other and want to be a part of for the long term. I know the audience numbers are nowhere close to being in the same realm as a podcast like Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘Dale Jr. Download,’ but as I said before, doing this podcast is more about being a resume builder. Even though the numbers aren’t there, I still enjoy doing the podcast because you never know if and when that one person will listen to an episode, and it takes off for Rob and me and maybe opens up new doors for us.”
Peeters: “I think my favorite thing about doing the podcast is being able to be myself and have conversations with Josh and other race fans. I love to write stories, but I’m also very opinionated when it comes to auto racing. I enjoy having an outlet where I can share my feelings in the moment. I like to think there’s a time where a good rant is good radio, especially if it’s a relatively popular opinion. I never want to go over the top with hot takes that don’t make sense. I’m someone who likes to explain why I think the way I do. If people agree, that’s great. If they don’t, that makes for a good discussion where I can understand another perspective. I love having a couple of hours every week to just talk about what I love.”
5. What is your favorite episode of the podcast so far?
Roller: “There are a few on that list. We have recorded two special episodes, one at the end of 2019 and one at the end of 2020. Rob and I gave out awards and made ‘way-too-early predictions’ for the seasons ahead. Those were fun to record because I had no idea what Rob would say. I remember him being shocked by a couple of my answers. I was shocked by a few of his answers as well. For last year’s, we went all out with several special segments that Rob and I could get really creative with. So the 2020 edition was probably my favorite one to record, but both are good. As a selfish plug, I had a passionate rant and defense of NASCAR at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last July. That is one of my favorite moments and was a top episode for the show overall.”
Peeters: “My favorite episode was the end of the season show in 2019 where I picked the eventual champion Kyle Busch to win. Every year, Josh and I make our playoff predictions for NASCAR, and in 2019 I think I picked the Championship 4 and Champion to a tee. This is like having an almost perfect March Madness bracket where you pick the correct Final Four teams and champion team. It was really fun to celebrate that on the show.”
6. It’s the Month of May! Will you be covering the 500?
Peeters: “I’m happy to announce that I will be covering the Indianapolis 500 for IndyStar. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and am excited to help with their coverage. It has been a difficult year with COVID, and credentials were not given out as freely as in previous years. I am incredibly thankful that I am seen as a valuable member of the team during May.”