Introducing The Dad Bod

Season 1, Episode 1


Welcome to The Dad Bod, a podcast about what it means to be a dad today. My name is Shawn and I'm a dad, living in New York City with my wife and our two young native New Yorkers.

I'm very happy to be sharing The Dad Bod with you. It's a personal project that I started working on a few months ago, but has been on my mind for years. It begins with the podcast medium itself, because I have loved podcasts since the term was invented in the early 2000s. For me, the first and still greatest of all time is This American Life. The storytelling, the production quality, and the longevity across an incredible range of topics - I don't think there will ever be a better body of work in a podcast than This American Life.

Behind This American Life, my second favorite podcast is the entire genre of NBA player podcasts. Not podcasts about the NBA - those I actually have a hard time listening to - but podcasts hosted by NBA players with NBA player guests. These podcasts bring the NBA player's first person experience, full of rich stories and intricate anecdotes that go beyond traditional game action, statistics, and national media-driven narratives. It might be obvious but the reason why these podcasts are special is the NBA-player-to-NBA-player dynamic, which makes each show feel less like an interview and more like a really good, really genuine conversation. What these NBA player podcasters lack in media polish is more than made up for by their genuine appreciation for their guests because of their shared membership in a special league.

"How cool would it be to be in a special league like the NBA?" I've often thought to myself. And then at some point, I started to realize that fatherhood is a special league. Sure, it's not as exclusive as being in the NBA, but I'll bet that any father, including NBA fathers, wouldn't trade being a dad to be in the NBA.

Which brings me to the important question: what does a podcast based on interviews with regular, everyday dads even have to offer? The more I thought about it - that is, the more I thought about my own experience and put myself in the shoes of dads that I know - the answer became clear: a lot of drama, hiding in plain sight. If I had to sum up the dad experience, I would do it with two statements.

First statement: I absolutely love being a dad. "Best thing that's ever happened to me." "Proudest I've ever felt." All of the cliches about how great fatherhood is are true.

Second statement: Being a dad is really hard. You can read all the books, take all the classes, and you still won't be nearly as ready as you thought you'd be, but somehow, miraculously, you'll be ready just enough. At the same time, all of the things that mattered before you became a dad - in other words, when you were merely a man - still matter. Your marriage, career, and friendships; your health and personal interests; the goals you were pursuing and the bad habits you were trying to fix. You want to be the best dad you can be and the best man you can be, but you're just one guy.

These two statements - the joys of fatherhood and the trials of fatherhood - are like the two poles of a magnet - they don't create the dramatic energy but they are the points where the energy is most concentrated.

And like the energy of a magnet, the dramatic energy of fatherhood hides in plain sight, only made visible when a magnetic object enters its field. Our magnetic object of choice: a podcast. Chances are, the Dad Bod is not the first podcast you've ever listened to, so you've probably noticed that podcasts are really good at revealing the stories around us that are hiding in plain sight. The story that I hope to reveal is one of modern fatherhood. It's a goal that, by design, has a lot of whitespace, whitespace that we will fill by interviewing one dad at a time to get his story of being a dad. Over time, all of these stories will start to tell the bigger story of what it means to be a dad today.

As I mentioned earlier, this project has been on my mind for years, and I finally worked up the courage to start working on it 3 months ago. I was getting ready to leave for Austin, Texas to meet my childhood best friend, Brian, for our second annual best buds trip. I had been talking with my wife for months as the idea for the Dad Bod was taking shape in my mind, and she could tell that I was talking, talking, talking but it was time to start doing. So she told me, "when you're in Austin, you need to interview Brian. Don't come back without interviewing Brian." Sort of a "put up or shut up" moment, so when Brian and I started our drive from Austin to San Antonio for a Spurs game, I hit the record button on my iPhone Voice Memos app and just like that, The Dad Bod was live with episode 1: Brian, Coach Girl Dad. In this episode, Brian shares his experience coaching his daughters', and I think you'll appreciate how much his story says about parenting in general. Brian also discusses his approach to teaching his daughters about money, reflects on his own dad's parenting, and offers some great perspective on how he's maintained his dad bod in order to still play basketball in his 40s.

A few weeks later, I was catching up with my friend Jeremy, who had recently decided to pursue a Math PhD at the age of 41 after 7 years of being a stay at home father of his two boys. For my part, I told him that I was starting to work on a podcast about what it means to be a dad today, and, well since we're talking about it, would you be up for an interview? I'm so glad Jeremy said "yes" and thus, we have episode 2: Jeremy, Ph.D-as-in-Dad. In this episode, Jeremy discusses his decision to pursue a Math PhD and how he's trying to balance this new variable in the equation of life. He also shares some amazing concepts from his life as a pianist, and reflects very candidly on his parents' parenting, the ways he parents differently from them, and how some of those differences don't always make a difference in the end result.

So it's a small start, but with two episodes in the books, I'm ready to go on record with the goal of 12 episodes, 1 episode a month in 2024, for season one of The Dad Bod. 12 dads, each one with a unique story of what it means to be a dad today. The story behind the story of The Dad Bod is that I'm learning everything on the fly with shards of time that I'm able to piece together. I only mention these circumstances to say that I will do my best to honorably convey each dad's story, with the hope that each story brings something positive to the life of you the listener, whether you're a dad yourself or you're someone who knows a dad or two.