Steamboat’s Vladan Chase takes his podcast across the country
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Vladan Chase said, sometimes, it seems like his whole life has been leading up to this: a prolonged, nationwide road trip from ice rink to ice rink during which he officiates hockey while telling stories from the rinks through his podcast, Never Far From Home.
The project has already begun, as 60 episodes of Never Far From Home have been recorded and published, but the road trip has been looming on the calendar. Finally, on Oct. 26, he’s packing up his Toyota and driving to Washington, D.C., where his only somewhat scheduled endeavor begins.
Chase, formerly the voice of Steamboat sports for Steamboat Radio, has always been a storyteller, a trait that seems to run in his large family, which he credits to his dad.
“He was the best storyteller you ever would have met,” Chase said of his father, who died when Chase was a senior in high school. “He had such good captivation of his audience. I would listen to stories he would tell 10 times. It sounds cliche, but he was why those cliches came. He had been around for so long, he had such depth in his stories, and they got longer every time. He was really just incredible.”
Chase loves the game of hockey and loves that everyone he’s met in the hockey community has stories to tell about their time on the ice. His guests don’t necessarily have to be hockey players, either. They can be rink workers, figure skaters, coaches or referees. They, too, always seem to have a compelling tale to tell.
The global pandemic threw a massive wrench in Chase’s plans. Originally, he was supposed to travel with Planet Hockey refereeing camps for 13 weeks this summer, starting in June. Of course, with COVID-19, he didn’t end up doing that. Meanwhile, he was furloughed from his job at the radio station.
But, it might have been for the better.
“I probably wasn’t ready at that point,” Chase admitted. “If you talked to me at that juncture, I’d be like, ‘I’m ready, let’s go.’ I wasn’t. There’s been so many things developed since then. … I’m very excited it happened that way.”
Now, Chase has 60 episodes on his website and streaming platforms and has started to really polish the production of the show. He’s also secured a few sponsors, including a recent one that he thinks could really help him.
“I’m always learning,” he said. “Each one, I have friends who are like, ‘Oh, I really like that aspect of it.’ For the most part, feedback has been that it’s professional. That’s kind of what I was going for, even if it’s fun and loose.”
His professionalism has helped bring in some big names, including former NHL player and Colorado Avalanche color commentator Peter McNab. Chase hopes to find connections to people of similar stature and, perhaps, bring in his dream guest of Mike “Doc” Emrick.
Chase is already thinking even bigger than a podcast, though. He’s hoping to journal while on the road and film some of his travels. Eventually, there could be a book or even a documentary about his search for the best rink-related stories in North America.
He’s headed to Washington, D.C., first before spending a few months in Florida, but after that, it’s up in the air. Originally, he was thinking of hitting the road for a year, but now, he’s thinking it could last five, six or even 10 years. The whole trip and project is fluid, and Chase is willing to adapt and roll with whatever comes his way.
Follow Chase around the country on his Instagram, @thehockeygypsy. The Never Far From Home website will also have a map marking all the rinks he visits.
Before he leaves, Chase is hosting a little get-together at the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena on Oct. 17. He will be there from about 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., grilling in the afternoon and evening, hoping some people stop by to send him off and maybe buy a few hats. To support Chase, people can buy merchandise, reach out to him via email at email@example.com or sponsor the podcast.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.