New Entertainment Acts in 1999
Honoring Players with the Blazers and Timberwolves
Eric Bonanno on Hockey 101
Mascot Resources
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Editor's Choice: Top 10 Interviews
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From Editor, Jon Cudo

When started in August 1998, I don't think I had any idea where it was headed or what it would become. Shortly after starting it, I realized that my ramblings and lists of news and notes would have to be supplemented by insight from the sports world if the site was ever going to amount to much. So I started to create monthly content via interviews with people in the game operations industry.

Our first interview (like many following) started with me calling up a friend and asking for a favor. Felisa Isreal (then with the Phoenix Suns/Mercury, now with the NBA League office) was kind enough to share 15 minutes of her time and insight to our readers and the monthly tradition began.

Over time the interviews expanded from 5 or 6 questions to more in-depth discussions and hopefully became even more valuable for the readers. In the midst of meeting self-imposed deadlines and the other realities of managing the site, I sometimes forget how helpful the interviews can be. Recently as I was reformatting the site I had to review every interview and I had the chance to review a lot of the insights and comments and recall the conversations and meetings I have had with all of these helpful pros.

From that review I thought it might be interesting to look back at six years at my top ten favorite interviews. Below is my ranking based not only on the content and insights, but sometimes on the experience of just spending time with the interviewee. I based my picks on what interviews I thought were interesting and informative. I personally enjoy interviews with numerous links to other content on the web, which draws on the real power of the internet (hyperlinking).

For each of my Top 10, I briefly discuss the content, memories of the meeting, often how it came about and other behind-the-scenes notes....and of course you can link to each of the interviews. Of course you can always see all the archived interviews on the Interview Page.

Thanks again to everyone for their time and the great experiences of sharing their stories and insight. It has been a rewarding experience for me personally, and I hope an interesting tool for our readers.

Jon Cudo

Number 10: Honoring Players with the Blazers and Timberwolves  (June 2001)

While living and working in Portland Oregon, I had a chance to see a lot of what the Trailblazers were doing. I was impressed with the media attention they received when they retired Clyde Drexler's number in a ceremony at the Rose Garden.

In addition, I had heard great things about the presentation that the Minnesota Timberwolves had done to mourn the passing of Malik Sealy. Part two of this interview allowed me to talk with an old friend from my days with the Timberwolves, Charley Frank.

I spoke with the Blazers one afternoon in their offices in Portland and with Charley over the phone. I really like this two-part interview because it has a lot of details on how and what each team did and also about how the teams went about their ceremonies under very different circumstances. The interview also has some interesting links about other ceremonies and the history of retiring numbers.

Number 9: The Famous Chicken Talks Mascotting (August 2002)

For those who don't know my personal history, I have been a professional mascot for the bulk of my adult life. When I look back at how that came about, I really believe the seed was planted when I was about 9 years old watching a Minnesota Kicks game and the San Diego Chicken was performing at the game. So when I had the chance to sit down with the living legend I was excited.

Ted Giannolas was interesting, engaging and funny as he graciously shared 90 minutes with me as he prepared for a game for the Portland Beavers (AAA) baseball team.

As the site continued to grow, I started putting some emphasis on the August Interviews in an effort to celebrate the site anniversary each year. Ted got things off to a great start in this August 2002 Interview.

Number 8: Bart Rogers on Using Celebrities (October 1999)

This is the oldest interview in my Top 10 and it marked the completion of the first year of interviews. In it Bart Rodgers of the Peoria Rivermen (ECHL) Hockey team discussed how they have successfully used celebrities to draw new fans to their game.

I had met John Butler (Peoria team President) years earlier while working for a college in Illinois, who helped me arrange this interview and I have had the chance to work with Bart and Jon on a couple occasions since.

This interview not only makes the solid case for using celebrities, but talked functionally about how they use them. It also included links to a huge database of NASCAR driver information that is still on the site, which was one of the first examples of building content directly via the interview.

Number 7: Eric Bonanno on Hockey 101 (February 2001)

I recall a story about this Hockey 101 promotion catching my eye from a sports news site. It was impressive and made a ton of sense and after talking to Kentucky Thoroughblades Executive Vice President Eric Bonanno it was clear the team had really done it well.

This was another shorter interview conducted over the phone, but I thought it was a good example of using the site to expand on an idea and explain it in more depth than a typical blurb might do.

It has been interesting to watch the idea of teaching fans the game has grown over the years. I am not sure that they did it first, but the Thoroughblades were clearly ahead of the curve and helped set the trend.

Number 6:
Peter Sorckoff on Promotional and Theme Nights(July 2000)

After interviewing Cheryl Benson-Guanci and Debra Belinsky (April 1999 and April 2000) I had a chance to pick their brains a bit about some up-and-comers in the Game Operations world. They both were quick to point out the talents of Peter Sorckoff of the Atlanta Thrashers (NHL).

Peter and I spoke over the phone and it was clear right away he was as passionate about game entertainment as anyone with which I have dealt. He has great ideas about how to fully integrate your entertainment and themes all throughout your presentation which is now an industry standard.

I also recall we used this interview to help grow content on the site. Readers could submit promotional or theme nights they have done (which we added to our list) and in return we sent the reader a list of 200 or so promotional ideas we had compiled. It was a tremendous success and helped grow what is now the Promotion Boards in the Content section of the site.

Peter's name comes up still in a lot of discussions as he continues to be a leader in the industry.

The Famous Chicken Talks Mascotting
Eric Bonanno on Hockey 101
New Entertainment Acts in 1999
Honoring Players with the Blazers and Timberwolves
Shopping Tote Bag