You guys are not going to believe this, but a few days ago Mike Schopp of WGR fame agreed to be interviewed for The Willful Caboose. I know. He must have taken a recent blow to the head or something. He’s definitely not thinking clearly. I suppose he figures he really has nothing to lose by tangling with the like of me, but you’d be surprised. My ridiculousness has a way of tainting everything it touches.
I’ll start out by telling you that Mike Schopp is an Official Friend of The Willful Caboose. A few weeks ago he was making a really interesting point on his show and it inspired me to write him an email. He and I have developed an email friendship, and although I probably wouldn’t recognize him on the street, I now consider him a BFF. (I tried to give him half a BFF locket, but Schopp claimed loyalty to Bulldog and declined. Harsh.) I’d also like to thank him for dealing so respectfully with me, a lowly blogger. (He even mentioned TWC on the air once. We’re famous, guys!) Considering his lack of experience reading blogs, he’s been very open-minded about the whole thing.
Just a word of warning: I’m, um, not a journalist….to say the least. I’ve never interviewed anyone before, and once you read this you’ll surely agree that Schopp was very generous to put up with my shenanigans. This interview was conducted over email, so please forgive the lack of conversational flow.
Without further ado, I present Part One of the Mike Schopp Interview:
Katebits: First of all, and most importantly, who is your favorite Sabre? And none of this “I don’t have a favorite”, bullhonky. Who is your man crush? If it makes it any easier, I’ll tell you that my girl crushes are on Kate from Lost, and on all the cylons from Battlestar Galactica. If you have to resort to Sabres from the past, I suppose I’ll allow it, but only because you have to deal with the Sabres in person from time to time. At this point, after all I’ve written on TWC, I think I’d rather die than have to deal with the real life Paul Gaustad, so I can respect it if you’re too bashful to admit he’s your man crush. Just blink twice if it’s Goose. I won’t tell.
Mike Schopp: One of the first things I learned from Mike Robitaille when beginning to work in Buffalo radio was, “You’ll never need a hockey player for a friend.” While I have known a few players through the years, I generally like to keep a safe distance from them. I do consider Martin Biron, Jay McKee and Rick Martin friends, and I feel safer communicating with them now that they no longer play for the team.
I admire certain traits about a few players. I admire Ryan Miller’s analytical mind, and I like when he challenges inquisitors in the locker room like he does shooters on the ice. Brian Campbell and Adam Mair have a great way with people. Gaustad is just a super guy, and I admire how well-rounded his interests in life are. And to finally get to the essence of your original question (I think), on last year’s team there is no question in my mind that Nolan Pratt was the cutest.
Katebits: Oooooh. Good call. Nolan Pratt is extremely adorable. You get a gold star for not only having exemplary tastes, but for being such a good sport about this question.
Please forgive me if this question is insulting. I really, really do not intend for it to be. Do you consider yourself to be a journalist? Radio seems like a no-man’s land between print journalism and a couple of fans shooting the breeze over some beers in a bar. Do you consider radio closer in nature to newspapers, or to fandom?
Mike Schopp: I think of radio not as a “no-man’s land” but as more of a convenience store. We’ll give you the news, we’ll offer personal opinion, we’ll make you laugh and scream. We generally won’t offer the depth of reporting on particular subjects that the newspaper does. (Theoretically, anyway. The Buffalo News’ sports media analysis, for example, is consistently as shallow as a kiddie pool.) But we offer way more volume. As evidenced by sports radio’s massive popularity here and all over the country, this works for people.
Talk-show hosts simply cannot be journalists. The job requires, at least if done well, too much personality. For people to tune in to our show regularly, they have to want to know how Bulldog and I feel about certain stories. I learned this several years ago from Bob Koshinski, a former boss. I asked him his interest in a certain other local radio personality. His response was, “I don’t think people really need to know what he thinks.” People come to your blog to find out what you, Kate, are thinking. It’s personal. This is the key to your success on the blog, and mine on the air.
Katebits: If you had to choose for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Mountains or beaches? Cats or dogs? Television or Internet? Would you choose to have the super power of invisibility, or flight? Please answer carefully. There ARE wrong answers here.
Mike Schopp: Beaches, no doubt. MUST be near water. I’ll never live far from water. I like cats, so cats. Internet will make television obsolete in four years, so Internet. Being invisible would be too cool. And there’s no simulation for it. I can fly- in planes. I don’t even love it.
Katebits: I’m sorry, but “beaches” and “invisibility” are incorrect. Good call with the cats and the internet, though.
Katebits: What’s the best thing about working in radio? What’s the worst?
Mike Schopp: I’ll take the second part first. The worst part — all tied for first place — the thrill of broadcasting on big news days; the access to Sabres management and players; the occasional compliment from a loyal listener who appreciates the show’s variety and sense of humor; the guys I work with, particularly Bulldog and Greg Bauch; the satisfaction of finishing first in the ratings; and being able to do this instead of really working. The best part, obviously, is all the attention I get from women.
Katebits: It’s true. Women love sports talk radio hosts. I can relate because as a viola player, I am highly coveted myself. It’s a perk of the viola biz, for sure.
Speaking of quality dudes, I think everyone should start calling Ryan Miller, “Crunchy”, and Jason Pominville, “Pommerdoodle”. When can I expect you and Bulldog to adopt these nicknames on your radio show?
Mike Schopp: Not before the year 3 million. To say that I’m not a nickname guy is to say that Nathan Paetsch is not a goal-scoring machine. WGR callers used to use nicknames all the time; on our show it never happens. I even bristle when I hear a baseball announcer say “A-Rod”. I think this makes me a little crusty.
There are many reasons for this, but basically it’s a matter of, do I know this person well enough to call them by a nickname? If I don’t, I won’t. And with callers, to me a nickname is a warning sign that the caller is either going to attempt to be extreme, in an effort to distance his real self from the opinion he’s about to offer, or funny, which he hardly ever will turn out to be. Either result can knock the show off the tracks.
Of course, my partner is nicknamed “Bulldog”. We both wish I could call him Chris, and off the air I always do.
Katebits: First of all, henceforth I shall call you “Crusty Sir Names-A-Lot”. Second of all, this is an interesting answer. For the purposes of my blog, I like nicknames for the very reason you dislike them. Calling Ryan Miller “Ryan” seems uncomfortably familiar, and using his actual name seems like a violation of the natural boundary between fan and athlete. “Ryan Miller” is an actual human being, “Crunchy” is some imaginary version of Ryan Miller that I write about online. I never ever deal with Ryan Miller in real life, though. Using a nickname in person is a whole different ball of wax and I can certainly understand your vantage point, even if it is a little crusty.