By Scott Long
Fifth Street Radio, which in just two years has become one of the most popular Internet poker radio stations, plans to dramatically increase its presence at this year’s World Series of Poker with 10 hours of programming a day.
“I love the World Series. It’s like our industry’s Super Bowl,” said Mark Hoke, programming director for Fifth Street Radio.
Fifth Street Radio, which will debut a new booth in the halls of the Rio Las Vegas, plans six hours a day of live programming and will simulcast three days a week on PokerNews.Com. Four more hours of prerecorded content is planned each day. In addition to covering all of the action from the tournament, Fifth Street is lining up games, live-stream roundtables, interactive activities and even comedians to make broadcasts interesting
“We’re going to pull out everything to make it work,” Hoke said.
Hoke, who said he always has wanted to be a broadcaster and dabbled briefly as a newspaper reporter and an Ante Up Magazine columnist, has been working on the building blocks of what is Fifth Street Radio for a few years, but meeting Mark Rhoades, a successful entrepreneur and poker enthusiast, at a charity event in December 2011 is what put the company on its present trajectory.
“About three months after (last year’s World Series) Mark and I started having serious talks about partnering together,” Rhoades said. “Mark and I both felt with his knowledge of broadcasting and poker contacts and my business and contacts we would be a serious force together. By December 2012, we formed the new company, Fifth Street Entertainment LLC, which oversees all other shows, including Fifth Street Radio and a lot of new programming we have coming out over the next few months.”
When the duo isn’t at the World Series, it’s producing more than 10 hours of original content each week, broadcasting on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights, with a mix of regular guests, professional players, game shows and online tournaments that have cultivated a fan base that spans 97 countries and interacts with hosts nightly in its UStream.TV chat box. Select content is later turned into podcasts.
“When we program it, we try to get the great guests on it, we try to keep people up on the news and current events, but we also want to be entertaining, because I want us to be able to branch out beyond the poker community,” said Hoke, who also got the exclusive interview with Jerry Yang about his IRS situation. “I want everyone who listens to the show to have fun and get to know the players.”
Regular guests include Rich Muny of Poker Players Alliance, the Grindettes, Kevin Mathers and Chad Holloway of Poker News, and Fifth Street Radio has also broadcast from a number of live events, including the Ante Up Midwest Championship in Minnesota.
“When I ask questions, it’s more of a conversational piece, rather than a list of 10 questions I want to ask,” said Hoke, who drew inspiration from how Johnny Carson used to host the Tonight Show. “I think it brings these people’s humanity to light, and we get to know them as more than just people holding cards, and to me, that’s really the key to what we do at Fifth Street Radio.”
Listen live to Fifth Street radio at fifthstreetradio.com from 6-9:30 p.m. ET on Sundays and from 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET on Wednesdays and Fridays.