For many in the Miami University community, social media and the internet serve as entertainment and an escape from the reality of classes and the stresses that daily life brings. For junior Blaiden Kirk, however, social media is a way of life.
Kirk, a software engineering major from Columbus, is a rising star in the sports realm of social media. He dedicates hours a day to creating content, most notably for his TikTok and for his podcast, Stay Hot.
Kirk is a ball of energy, always smiling, always finding something to talk about, and always cheering on the Cleveland Browns.
His room is a technology lover’s paradise. His hand-built P.C. sits beneath his desk, the top half lined by several monitors, each displaying something different he’s working on.
This entire display sits alongside a microphone and other various podcast equipment. On the other side of the room, a ring light rests in the corner, ready to be used at a moment's notice. A guitar sits in the opposite corner.
He started at the beginning. During the pandemic, Kirk decided to start creating content on TikTok like many others. He laughs as he remembers how it all started.
“I was bored,” Kirk said. “I started making Madden videos, and I was good at it. I realized after that it wasn’t a sustainable source of content, and that football in general was what I really wanted to talk about.”
Not long after Kirk started posting his analysis, he started to gain views and followers.
“Near the end of last summer, I hit 40,000 followers, and I had just confirmed my first media deal,” Kirk said. “That was the point where I knew it was legit. That was the moment.”
While his rapid growth of success has been exciting, it hasn’t come without its challenges. Kirk sighed as he thought about his struggles.
“Finding a balance between school and making content is the biggest challenge, and a lot of times the balance doesn’t happen,” Kirk said. “Sometimes I have to put off making content for days and sometimes I have to put off school for days.”
In order to create more stability in his work, Kirk has passed on certain deals. He compares it to “load management,”the kind of rest we see in the NBA on a weekly basis.
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When he isn’t creating content or doing schoolwork, Kirk finds time for his other passion: music.
“Whenever I have free time, I always play my guitar,” Kirk said. “I’m a part of the Guitar Club at Miami, and every single week it’s the one thing I look forward to the most outside of my main commitments.”
Over winter break, Kirk plans on writing and recording an album. He hopes to release it on his birthday, Feb. 3. He draws his musical inspiration from Will Wood and the music duo “I Don’t Know But They Found Me,” both popular indie artists.
Kirk said creating content changed the way he views and follows sports.
“I watch more games at once now, and that can be exhausting,” Kirk said. “Usually I would just watch the Browns, but now I rewatch games I missed to find things to talk about.”
Despite the added element of searching for content, Kirk still enjoys football the same way any fan would.
“I wouldn’t say anything has changed on that front,” Kirk said. “If you look at my Twitter I tweet just like any other fan would. When I get into analyst mode, I get into analyst mode, but at heart I’m a fan.”
Kirk’s fanbase is composed of other sports fans, and their continued support makes him continue to grow and love what he does.
“They started calling me ‘Lemon Boy’ after an exchange I had on Twitter,” Kirk said. “I pushed the meme a little harder, and now you can’t find a single video without someone saying ‘lemon’ in the comments. The support is incredible.”
Kirk, along with his business partners Matt Sponhour and Theo Ash, records several episodes a week for their podcast, “Stay Hot.”
“I think a podcast, if done right, is the most profitable form of content that you could possibly do. We knew we could do something big with the right group of people.”
Kirk detailed the encounters he has with supporters in Oxford, saying he gets recognized on a somewhat regular basis.
“During my intramural flag football games, people love to talk to me about it and I just laugh about it,” Kirk said. “I’ve also been recognized just uptown with my friends, and that’s really cool.”
In terms of future plans, Kirk has no idea what’s next.
“I’m not sure what the dream is at this point,” Kirk said. “I’d like to continue my software engineering and doing the podcast, but other than that who knows?”
Kirk offered advice for others trying to create content.
“You just gotta start,” Kirk said. “Find some half-decent lighting, record yourself and put yourself out there. Figure out what others are watching and go from there.”