Local 13-year-old making sports talk host dream a reality

By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Local
Zane Cox loves sports. Period.
And since, due to the COVID-19 shutdown, he can’t compete in athletics, he’s found another outlet: a daily Zane Talks Sports podcast in which the just-turned-13-year-old delivers opinions on the hot topics in the sports world and chats it up with various athletes and coaches, not all of them local.
“I just love watching sports, talking sports – since I was 3 years old, even,” he said.
That was when, Zane said, he became a fan of the Dan Patrick Show, hosted by the former ESPN personality of that name.
“I remember waking up at 5 a.m. to listen to the Dan Patrick show or watch SportsCenter. I started watching sports – anything, really.”
That’s a family thing, said his dad, Lebanon High School Head Wrestling Coach Michael Cox.
“I’m a PE teacher and I’m a big sports fan. We go to a lot of OSU football, baseball, wrestling matches. He’s so into sports, and he likes to talk a lot.”
Zane said he also likes to play sports – “really, any sports” – basketball, baseball, football, wrestling, “a little golf,” bowling.

Zane warms up at the mic. He is an admitted sports fanatic who has launched his own sports podcast – at age 13.

When the coronavirus hit, Zane got bored quickly, his dad said. His goal being “to be the next Dan Patrick,” Zane decided to put together his own sports podcast, ZTS (Zane Talks Sports).
“He did it all himself,” Michael Cox said. “He got online and figured out how to do a podcast. Then he got on Amazon and found a microphone. He researched it and used a gift card he’d gotten for Christmas.”
“I have cheap stuff,” Zane said. “I’m working to get better stuff.”
He spent a week preparing before launching his show on March 27 from the studio he constructed in a corner of his bedroom.
“I kind of practiced, recorded myself. I made sure I actually sounded good. ‘Would I really do this?’ I thought I sounded OK.”
He started with an hour-long show, posted daily on weekdays, but that proved to be a little taxing.
“I switched to a half hour so I’m not saying the same stuff over and over, so it doesn’t get boring for my followers, who now are quite a few, I think.”
He records the show either early in the morning, before he does his remote seventh-grade schoolwork at home, or in the early afternoon, after he’s done with school. Then he posts it to Spotify’s podcast category under ZTS.
As of last week he had 750 hits, up from 200-250 a couple weeks into the launch.
“For me it’s a big hit,” he said.
Michael Cox said Zane has improved with practice – and preparation, after Michael and his wife Sandi gave their son some “constructive criticism.”
“When he first started, he was kind of rough. We said, ‘You need to sit down and write it up so you know what you’re going to say.’”
Zane did.

DAILY PREPARATION includes research, notes and writing up an intro to get the show rolling.

“It forces him to read,” Michael Cox said. “He’s got to read articles, do a little bit of research so he knows what he’s talking about.”
Zane said it takes him about an hour to do the research and come up with an “agenda.”
“Then I dish out my thoughts,” he said. “From this time to this time, I’ll talk about this. From this time to this time, I’ll talk about that.
“I talk about anything from NBA free agency to NCAA suspensions, NFL free agency, anything.
“I have a couple of daily segments when I talk headlines, the big things that happened yesterday. I did ‘What to Watch’ – now there aren’t any games to watch so I’ll do a movie or a TV show, ‘Today’s Date’ – stuff that happened a long time ago, birthdays.”
He also does interviews. Interviewees thus far have included Rick Aversano, director of football operations under Head Coach Chip Kelly at UCLA (“he’s my aunt’s boyfriend”); Oregon State University lineman Brandon Kipper (a connection thanks to a bowling outing); OSU Special Teams Coordinator Jake Cookus; and local athletes such as University of Oregon football signee Keith Brown of Lebanon High School and, more recently, he was working on lining up interviews with former Warrior stars and college All-Americans Garrett Urrutia and Kara (Hallock) Urrutia.
“I’ve interviewed my friends,” Zane noted.
He’s looking forward to the day when athletes get back on the field.
“I’ll just talk about the games, what I thought of the games,” he said, noting that putting together some ZTS “merch” might be down the road. His parents have already gotten him some ZTS gear.
“I think the future could be bright. I will do this as long as I possibly can,” Zane said.
He’s considering adding one of his buddies, Jack Ford, to the booth.
“He knows sports a lot,” Zane said. “He’s going to come on my show as co-host. He’ll be like the Danettes on the Dan Patrick show.”
One last question: What happens to his own athletic career when local youth sports resume?
“It only takes me about 45 minutes to do the show,” Zane said, obviously contemplating his options. “But I’d probably give up playing sports.”
His dad, standing nearby, chuckled.
“Yeah, until you go out to the ballfield,” Michael Cox said. “Every season, the next sport ahead is his favorite.”