“If you had to use tape for this, would you do it?”: Ed Kavalee on the success and longevity of ‘Total Football’

Former Assistant Editor

Santo, Sam and Ed’s Total Football podcast has been running (on-and-off) for the best part of a decade now, and the team are currently in the middle of covering their third World Cup with spin-off Cup Fever.

The podcast is currently uploaded weekly on the ABC, and Santo Cilauro, Sam Pang and Ed Kavalee have recently re-launched their four-yearly tv broadcast, this year going straight to ABC iView (after previous incarnations aired on SBS).

The show brings together Santo’s incredible comedic timing, Ed’s self-confessed football nerd tendencies, and Sam – who’ll have you believe he doesn’t actually know any of the names of the players and is just there for comic relief.

But together they consistently deliver this fantastic (and hilarious) take on the world’s biggest sport, and this month, the biggest competition in sport; the World Cup.

Manchester City's New Outfits | #TotalFootball

The boys talk Manchester City's new expensive outfits… #TotalFootball

Posted by Santo Sam and Ed on Friday, 3 November 2017

Ed, a constant threat around Aussie radio and comedy (who this year moved into a role as anchor and co-host of 2DayFM’s Breakfast show) was filming Thank God You’re Here with the Working Dog team when Santo came up with a suggestion.

“We would chat about soccer, or football, backstage, while we’re putting on the wigs, and the moustaches and the centurion’s uniforms,” Ed tells Radio Today.

“We would be, chit-chatting about soccer before I would go out, and then you know, having dinner afterwards and stuff like that. And then, out of the blue, [Santo] said one day, ‘Would you think about doing something with me for the 2010 World Cup?'”

Back then, Ed didn’t know Sam Pang professionally. Little did he know that Santo’s match-making skills would lead to a fruitful relationship and friendship with former youth AFL prodigy Pang, who now co-hosts Nova 100 Breakfast.

“He said, ‘Do you know this guy, Sam Pang?’ And I said, ‘On no, not really. No, I don’t.’ But Santo just thought, ‘oh, we’d probably get along.’

“So, without Santo thinking that, kind of playing matchmaker, then none of it would have happened,” Ed explains. “So, it was just a really happy, sort of, you know a fluke is the wrong word because it was Santo’s judgement.”

The fact that Santo, Sam and Ed’s Total Football podcast has been going for almost 10 years is in no small part due to the influence and vision of Working Dog founding member and D Generation legend Cilauro, who Ed says is “secretly the most, wildly, multi-skilled person, in Australian television.

“He edits the television shows. He’s a cameraman, own the films and the TV shows. He’s a producer,” says Ed.

“And he’s also the most reluctant man on TV as well. So it’s really hard to get him to come on, get him on screen. He’s sort of the opposite of someone desperately trying to get their head on TV as much as they can. So, he is really extraordinary in that way.”

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Posted by Santo Sam and Ed on Friday, 26 May 2017

On the show, Ed and Sam often joke about Santo’s age and how he’s out of touch with music, technology or whatever the newest thing is in the media that week. Ed says Santo’s content for the podcast can often appear disorganised, but that he always makes it work.

“He’s just a friendly, lovely, happy guy. But his brain’s working a million miles an hour.

“Whenever we do clips we would never show each other our clips. [Producer] Tom [Gleisner] jokes that Santo will say, ‘I’ve got eight clips. They’re out of order, and they’re all called World Cup’ and then he’ll just, sort of look at him and go, ‘Okay.’

“But then it always works out for him, so, yeah, he’s alright the old Santo. He’s alright.”

In an age where the podcast market is more saturated than ever, Ed – undoubtedly one of the hardest working people in Australian media – has a rule where he tries to think about the show as if it were being recorded on a finite amount of tape.

He tells Radio Today that in podcasting there’s always the temptation to just say, “Oh we’re just three people, friends, colleagues, what-evers… who chat about ‘insert topic here’. Football, movies, news, whatever. And it’s just a bit of fun and we’ll see what happens.

“I kind of think that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. I try and think of our podcast as being put on to a tape.

“And if you had to use tape for this, would you do it? Is it good enough to go on tape, and be kept forever? And if it’s not, well then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. So that’s the sort of rule of thumb I always use.”

In saying that, Ed’s not under any impression that his content is perfect.

“That doesn’t mean that everything I do is of quality. I mean goodness,” he laughs.

“People have been trying to tear me down for years, but it does change the way you look at it. And it changes the way that what you think you are doing.”

Such is the chemistry between the three hosts and producer Gleisner that the Total Football podcast actually inspired one of Australia’s best-loved quiz shows, the Logie-winning Have You Been Paying Attention?

Ed reveals that fellow Working Dog producer member Rob Sitch just happened to be tuning into an early episode of the podcast, and had a lightbulb moment after Tom decided to quiz the Ed, Sam and Santo one day.

“Tom, who was just in the office next door, and as Tom does, was just always working, just said one day, ‘Oh, hey, why don’t I just come in and I’ve got a couple of topical questions, just do at the end,’” says Ed.

“Our buzzers were our name, and we used to use a pen on our coffee cup as our buzzers.

“And then one day, as Santo tells it, Rob Sitch heard the podcast, and said to Tom and Santo, ‘I think there might be a TV show in that quiz you do at the end of the soccer podcast.’

“And if he hadn’t heard it. You know, this is, three guys, hitting a cup and improvising a joke about some news story, or even some soccer story. If Rob doesn’t hear that and do what he does, which is, have an idea, then we don’t have the TV show that’s on at the moment.”


Despite the crazy busy life he leads, juggling television, podcasting, daily Breakfast on 2DayFM with Em Rusciano and Grant Denyer, and a family, Ed insists that he doesn’t struggle to balance and priorities aspects of his busy schedule.

He remains humble and is thankful for each opportunity he is given, which makes finding time for all the things that are important pretty simple.

“For me prioritise is a weird word, and it’s always something I’ve always had a struggle with. I know it seems like a cliché but, I was asleep in a Black Thunder on my birthday when I got a call out of the blue from Working Dog.

“On my birthday. My 25th birthday, I was asleep black thunder, at Blacktown, at a service station.”

“So, along the way, through radio, I’ve picked up so many, great, long, working relationships and so many great friendships. So with the podcast, It really is a chance for Santo, Sam and I to hang out. And that’s what we’re talking about.

“So when I see Pang on the weekend’s for the quiz show (HYBPA), it’s that. That’s our relationship there. But then when I see Santo, and Santo comes along with the soccer show. Well, that becomes, what our relationship is, for that. And then when I go on something else, another show with the guys or whatever it is, then that becomes our relationship to that.

“So rather than prioritising, I always used the term, highlight. So the soccer show we get to highlight, that part of what we do together. So then, at breakfast radio, it’s completely different to that. Day-to-day radio is more about, ongoing day-to-day working.

You get the feeling that his busy life (at least as it appears from the outside) is something that Ed wouldn’t trade for anything. He obviously loves every part of it, even the grind of daily Breakfast radio.

“Radio is every day. You have new content, which is what I like about it, because you have new content and new ideas everyday.

“Where as with the podcast, with something like that, you save it all up, then you do it. Then you save it all up again, and you do it. That’s the difference, I think.”

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Recent comments (7)
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21 Jun 2018 - 8:53 am

Great read, love the podcast and I hope it keeps going strong. Great writing, keep it coming!

21 Jun 2018 - 10:54 am

Good to see the boys back in action.

21 Jun 2018 - 11:08 am

Interesting that Ed is out sprucing his podcast series which is very good but his 2dayfm breakfast show barely rates a mention. Tells a story doesnt it. I dont believe he would be overly proud of that breakfast show and his co host.

21 Jun 2018 - 11:54 am

Did Ed even mention Em ?

21 Jun 2018 - 2:29 pm

Did Sam even mention Nova? He must hate his cohosts.

This was about their podcast, so that’s what they talked about.

Come on people – let’s not clutch at straws.

21 Jun 2018 - 2:57 pm

It really is Ed’s show now he’s the star not Rusciano

22 Jun 2018 - 9:07 am

Santo, Sam and Ed for Breakfast radio…


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