Alexa and the Amazon Echo always kind of freaked me out. Amazon is pretty direct in admitting that the Echo is always listening for “Alexa,” its activation phrase. And then, about a year ago, stories started circulating that people could hear a faint laughter emitting from it. This unsettled me to the point that it inspired a horror story.
However, some family members recently bought a few Echos for their house and, admittedly, they were super cool. My kids loved asking Alexa questions and, personally, I found the option of just asking about the weather or any other kind of information without having to run to my phone or laptop pretty enticing.
Unfortunately, the idea of that thing always “listening” still gave me the creeps.
I bet you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Dan Le Batard.
If you’re not familiar with Dan Le Batard, he co-hosts a program called The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. I discovered these guys a few years ago and I listen to them almost religiously. Dan is a former sports writer who ventured into TV and radio as he foresaw the decline of print. I find Dan’s sense of humor clever, but he’s also very insightful and, in my opinion, often calls things correctly. He recognizes the ridiculousness in sports and isn’t afraid to contradict popular talking points. Half of the time, he doesn’t even talk sports even though it’s technically a “sports” show.
Stugotz is every boneheaded sports fan to have ever existed, and we love him for it. He speaks in cliches, he wins arguments by making you prove him wrong, and if you haven’t done anything for him lately, then what have you really done for him? Jon Weiner is playing a character with Stugotz, but mostly in the same way your teacher plays a character. Stugotz is Jon Weiner, and Jon Weiner is Stugotz. I imagine that Stugotz is just Weiner enhanced and unfiltered. The guy is so popular, he has his own army.
I listen to these men virtually every night as I cook and wash dishes. Their radio show ends around noon, but they strip the morning program down to it’s best moments with a podcast available on ESPN.com. You can find their archives here: http://www.espn.com/espnradio/podcast/archive/_/id/9941853
So what does this have to do with Alexa and the Amazon Echo?
Often, when I’m doing dishes and enjoying the show, one of my children comes into the kitchen and asks me a question. Because I listen to it loudly enough to overtake the sound of water, pots, and pans, I have to dry my hands, go to my phone, and then hit pause. After I deal with whatever they need, I then push play again and go back to my dishes. This typically happens a few times a night–night after night.
I got to thinking … wouldn’t it be nice if I could just say “pause” or “volume down” instead of going through that whole process? There was just one problem. I didn’t think ESPN entertainment would be available through Alexa. I kind of figured the whole Amazon and Disney competition would render that an impossibility.
However, I did a little research, and it seemed that because The Dan Le Batard Show With Studgotz is available through many podcasts outlets, it should be generally retrievable by Alexa via the internet.
There was only one way to know for sure.
The next time I was at my family’s house, I approached their Echo. I said, “Alexa, play The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz.”
A half second passed.
It felt like a century.
And then … I heard that wonderful music coupled with Papi’s introduction.
I ordered my Echo that night.
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)