Part of being a journalist is doing some downright bizarre interviews. It could be because of the timing, location, signal or something else. Usually these interviews are bizarre because of circumstances beyond your control. When the individual or people you are trying to interview return your call, it normally is at the worst time, but if you are passionate about your craft, you will pick up, tell them you are fine and that yes, this is a perfect time for an interview.
Here are some of my favorite unique interviews.
Honorable mention: My first interview writing on deadline was for the Jewish Chronicle. I did not yet have a voice recorder and I was covering a high school basketball game. I got to interview the coach, Andy Pakler, and I have an orange Under Armour gym shirt (big no no) on and have a pen and paper. I am furiously writing trying to get what Andy is saying, which was downright impossible. Thank goodness my editor was there with me. You always remember your first interview and I definitely can agree with that.
5. I was writing for Point Park University’s student newspaper, The Globe and the phone rang in the book aisle of a Sam’s Club. On the other end was women’s basketball coach Tony Grenek. Was it a good time? No, not really, but anything for a story. Of course I did the interview and saw several glares being shot my way. Tony is a good friend of mine to this day and we still joke about our interviews, they never went smoothly but always ended up fine.
4. This was another phone interview for The Globe. This one was in a vacant back alley in downtown Pittsburgh with volleyball defensive specialist Margaret “M.J.” Gillooly on the other end of the phone call. I was on my way to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and the call came. That alley creeped me out a bit and I have not been down it since, but once again, anything for a story.
3. I was in Ed Meena’s Sports History class at Point Park. Meena used to be the women’s basketball coach at the university and Tony Grenek passed his record for most wins in program history. I asked Ed if we I could get a quote or two after class. Ed, being the great man he is, agreed. Little did I expect Ed would stop the entire class tell me to ask him any questions I had. So I asked my question and Ed essentially rambled and gave me two answers. I was able to use one and the other part was not usable for print.
Point Park is in an athletic conference where most of the other teams are in either Indiana or Kentucky meaning every week or two featured drives of 4-8 hours.
Here for the first time ever is Ed’s entire quote.
“He was probably the best choice they’ve made since I’ve left. Tony is dedicated to this program and the thing he does really well is recruiting and that’s the secret in women’s basketball these days. His record speaks for itself. I think he represents the school at a high level. From the feedback I’ve received from players who have played under Tong is positive.”
“I don’t miss the trips to Kentucky. The time they stop nothing is open except truck stops and you don’t want to eat where truckers eat. Look at how they look that’s the biggest fallacy of them all. Yeah eat where the truckers eat you can have high cholesterol and guts so you don’t want to do that.”
2. The St. Louis Cardinals had clinched NL Central title. Other reporters had coats on. I asked Adam Wainwright for an interview. The premise of which was that it was his first day back from what was supposed to be a season-ending injury and he overcame that and his team overcame his setback to win the division. Wainwright agreed, but only if he can douse me with a beer. This was an ice cold pounder of Budweiser mind you. I had a piece of gum in my mouth, looked Adam in the eye and said straight faced “hit me”.
He poured the entire thing on me and I took it without moving. He then told me I earned the interview and as I asked my first question he started pouring another on me to see if I would react, which I didn’t. This was in front of cardinals coaching staff minus manager Mike Matheny and a few players. Wainwright complimented me for taking it so well after.
I was told I smelled like the bar when I got back up to the press box. I had to take the bus back home that night and I’m sure if someone had asked me why I smelled the way I did they would not have believed me. Needless to say, when I got home, that was the fastest I had ever jumped into the shower.
1. In 2013 at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS I wanted to interview David Frost. He had won the 2013 Regions Tradition his first ever major and that was just a couple of starts before the event. I followed Frost for most of the day and then on range ran into his brother/caddie Michel. He said to wait for David to finish on the range then he likely would do it.
I had walked a few holes from outside the ropes following David’s practice round with his friend and PGA TOUR Champions golfer Roger Chapman.
As we were on the range, my friend Chris Dazen, who was covering the event with me, was going over our game plan. We both determined what we were going to write.
After David was done, Michel directed me to him. Both of them were going to go on a golf cart to go to their courtesy car and head back to the hotel. David offered me in the cart.
Michel took David’s golf bag up next to the driver. I was invited to sit next to David in the back.
I got in and barely had enough time to say good-bye to Chris before we drove off, leaving Chris in the dust.
I had never done an interview in a moving vehicle like that before and being that I improvise all of my questions, I had to collect myself very quickly.
The interview went very well and was the beginning of a trust that has remained to this day. I call David a friend and every time the PGA TOUR Champions is close by and I cover, I typically am inside the ropes walking 18 with him. We always get to catch up and he has always treated me with respect.