When I started blogging about hockey about 12 years ago, I wanted to make sure I could provide a sounding board for hockey fans. I wanted to help them share their voice to a larger audience. Sure, there are message boards and Twitter but that dialogue is a bit more fleeting. The blogging world at times can feel isolating, but you never know when something you write gets picked up and develops a life of its own. The last few years I think you could say the same for podcasts which has really taken off the last few years. Whether its Hockey Wilderness‘s HWPodcast its a chance to provide some live discussion to the mountain of Wild focused blogs out there. Even big media got in the game with KFAN producing a Beyond the Pod podcast or even Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Michael Russo & Jim Souhan and Minnesota Sports Podcast Network to discuss hockey topics. But there is one Wild podcast that has been around longer than ALL of the rest, its 3 in the Box.
Starting in 2012, Aaron, Kenney and Jive have been discussing Minnesota Wild hockey in their own recording studio just north of St. Paul. While the discussion can certainly be in depth, it is done with plenty of good humor that makes it both enlightening as well as entertaining.
I have had the good fortune to have been on their show a few times and I think if you want a true pulse on how Wild fans feel about their team this is as authentic as it gets. Like many podcasts, they seek questions from their listeners and answer in their own unique style that both discusses the issues brought up but usually leaves you with some laughter in the process.
Recently, the 3 in the Box podcast now has decided to take their show with their own YouTube Channel so you can feel as though you are a part of the show. They normally record on Monday evenings and you can follow along live and participate in a chat window as the show is recording. So with that being said, who are these guys and why did they decide to start their own podcast? Here’s what Aaron, Kenney and Jive had to say.
Crease and Assist: Have you always been hockey fans? Did you play the game? Whether its playing or fandom, describe your exposure to the game and where you gained your love for hockey?
Kenney: I’ve always enjoyed hockey. I had gone to a few games at the Met Center when I was a kid with my dad, and unfortunately I think it got lost, a Polaroid of myself with Dino Ciccarelli and Neal Broten, it was totally a Santa type picture from the 80’s but with hockey players. It wasn’t until a little later in life, I’m gonna guess when Minnesota got NHL hockey back and the Wild were formed, that I started paying more attention to it and start to understand more of the rules and positional roles. My hatred of Pittsburgh goes back to 4th grade when the North Stars got beat by them in the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1991. I had a baseball coach who was from Pittsburgh and us bratty kids were running our mouths the entire playoffs, that was until the North Stars lost. Then we just ran extra laps for the rest of the season.
When I was in high school, I played in a garage band and half of the band played high school hockey, I wasn’t one of them. On perfect winter days (which seemed to happen a lot more then) we would blow off practice to go play pick up games at the park. Other than floor hockey, that was the most playing I’ve done. I learned a lot about hockey players, even back then. There were kids who played for the U of M that would occasionally jump in, a few Russians and even my high school buddies that had way more skill than I did, when you were out on the ice with them they never made you look bad even though they could skate circles around you. They dumbed down their skill to keep the games fun for everyone. On occasion they would showboat but never in a disrespectful way. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always held hockey players in high regard.
Aaron: The first sport I loved was baseball. Hockey came a little later, as I went to Saint Paul Vulcans & Hamline Fighting Pipers games at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum with my Dad and later the North Stars with my grandparents (fun fact, my second North Stars game ever was the second to last game ever at the Met Center versus the Blues).
Jive: I have always loved the game of hockey since I was a kid. Hard to grow up in Minnesota and not have some sort of appreciation for the game. I played through the racks of youth hockey in Minneapolis all the way through high school. I found some ways to get into trouble in high school so I didn’t take my hockey career as far as I would have liked to, but the experiences will be with me for a lifetime.
Crease and Assist: When did you decide to do a podcast, how did that come about? How did you 3 come together and say, hey let’s do a podcast?
Kenney: A friend of ours Josh, who was a host in the beginning of 3ITB, had an idea to do an all around hockey podcast (NHL, NCAA, MSHSL) and record in the basement of a NE Minneapolis bar. This podcast ended up with the name Puckin’ Drunk and man did it show in some of those episodes. Aaron and I did a good number of shows with him as well as varying guests for about a year, maybe a year and a half. It was off the cuff and fairly unorganized. No set schedule, just when ever he and us felt like getting together to record some shenanigans. We actually had press passes for Red Bull’s Crashed Ice the first year it was in St. Paul. It was sometime after the season we covered Crashed Ice that Aaron and myself started talking about breaking off and trying to be a bit more serious about it. Scheduled show recordings, change the name to something that might be taking a bit more seriously, and start building on something a bit more permanent, not just recording in a bar basement. We mentioned it to Josh and he was game. The following season we started recording at our current location. At that point, we tried assigning different roles, and I was going to take on more of a producer role and just add some color here and there. It kinda worked but we were still working out a lot of back end stuff and I ended up as a co-host. Well, we needed someone to fill the producer role. That’s when we called Jive. So now, it’s Josh, Aaron and myself as talking heads and Jive running and maintaining the recording as well as cuing the intro and outros. Josh was phased out in part to his work schedule, and as our name states, we needed the third. So now Jive is the 3rd co-host with Aaron and myself and that’s how it’s been for what seems forever. If you said “3 In The Box” I wouldn’t think of it any other way than with our current lineup. So the too long didn’t read, it evolved, it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.
Aaron: Podcasting came by accident. Our friend, and original host of 3 In The Box Josh aka Meatbeast was throwing together a little podcast immediately after one of our Fantasy Hockey League’s drafts. Kenney and I participated in this first show that came to be known as “Puckin’ Drunk”. We did maybe a handful of episode as PD before Kenney and I decided that we wanted to change gears a little. So we started up 3 In The Box with Josh. Eventually we pulled Jive in as a producer. As time went on, Josh’s schedule became a little more hectic, and Jive started filling in on the 3rd seat. And that’s where we are today.
Jive: I can’t say that I originated the idea, but I have been a longtime fan of podcasting. Being long time friends with Kenney and Aaron there is always a great conversation to be had. Before I joined the podcast I was a listener. Then they were looking for some extra help producing the podcast so they had me down for a trial run. I was instantly hooked and having a great time. It started with a sample board and then one day they gave me a mic and I had a voice.
Crease and Assist: If you had to describe 3 in the Box to a stranger who has never heard of it. What would you say?
Kenney: Three guys, that are as close as brothers without the blood relation, who talk about hockey. They have an above average knowledge of the game and like to get derailed on topics that range from grapefruit to black jelly beans.
Aaron: I’m the worst at describing it, as I’m sure I’m underselling it, but “3 friends talking hockey”. We were friends long before the podcast, and will be friends well after the podcast is gone.
Jive: To describe 3 in the Box to a stranger I simply explain that it is 3 dudes getting together to talk about a sport and team that they love. That is probably my most enjoyable part about the podcast is that it gives me time to get together with good friends, chat about hockey and hey I have even made some new friends along the way.
Crease and Assist: What have you learned, not just about podcasting itself, but from each other from where you started your journey as Wild podcasters? Has that experience led you to anything new in your life outside of 3 in the Box? Has it affected your Wild-fandom in any way?
Kenney: Like I said above, we are brothers. And just like brothers, we’ve had our moments where shit hits the fan. We also do a lot together outside the studio. With that, we like to help each other grow and we’ve all fallen into our respective roles. None of us are journalism or broadcast majors. If someone told me I would be a co-host on a podcast, and now a videocast, 7 years ago, I probably would have asked them to give up their drugs. But listening back to some of those old episodes and hearing us then and hearing us now, how much we’ve organized our flow, how our questions and talking points have gotten better, it’s because we push each other to take it to the next level. Is there still room for improvement? Absolutely and always. But I wholeheartedly believe, if it wasn’t us three, this would have fizzled and not kept on trucking like we do year after year.
(Has that experience led you to anything new in your life) I’m going to say it’s the other way around. Aaron and Jive were in a band years before 3ITB and I came in and ran sound for that band in the later parts of it. Music is how we all met and is still a big part in all of us. We wrote, recorded, mixed and produced all the music you hear during a 3ITB episode (intro, cuts, outro). You will find the 3 of us out at concerts on a regular basis. We’ve been going on an annual “Man-Weekend” camping trip before we started 3ITB. If anything, 3ITB has brought us that much closer.
(Has it affected your Wild-fandom) I definitely have gotten deeper into the Wild as a team and individual players since we started this venture. Seeing the weaknesses and strengths, as well as questioning management decisions way more than I used to. Also in regards to the refs, I don’t think I ever paid attention to who was officiating until the last few years.
Aaron: As for my hockey fandom, I will say, while I was certainly a hockey fan before, I’m much more in tune with what our team is doing. In fact, if anything, I pay less attention to league at large, but that’s mainly a time commitment thing rather than an interest thing. Heck, nowadays I don’t even have time to keep up on the Twins, and that used to be my jam!
Jive: I can honestly say that being part of the podcast has definitely drawn me in closer to the Wild. I love the game of hockey. I loved the North Stars as I was growing up. When the North Stars made the move to Dallas I felt betrayed as I am sure a lot of people did. I was super excited when it was announced that we would be getting an expansion team and that MN would finally have a hockey team again. I watched the hockey and loved the team, but there was still always that memory in the back of my head of the North Stars being taken away. Through the years of doing the 3 in the Box podcast I have found a new love for our team and it’s history and have moved past some of those feelings about the one that got away. I don’t even think I realized it, but holding that baggage was spoiling the game for me.
Crease and Assist: What do you think makes your podcast from the many podcast options we’ve seen from Russo’s to Hockey Wilderness to Beyond the Pod. What will Wild fans get from your podcast that they may not get from those other ones?
Kenney: We try not to take ourselves too seriously. I would like to think that you can throw on one of our shows after the Wild have a craptastic week and at some point during the show, bad news and all, we’ll have you laughing at least once.
Aaron: Well let’s be honest, without the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Michael Russo, none of these blogs and podcasts would be half as good as they are. Russo is the taproot of the Minnesota Wild blogosphere (and by extension, podcast universe). As for what makes us different, I think there are a few things. First, as far as I know, we’ve been doing it the longest. Secondly, due to our other interests, we’re recording from a proper studio, so generally, our production is top-notch. Lastly, and this isn’t bragging, it’s merely what I’ve heard from listeners, is that we’ve got rapport. We know each other, we generally stick on topic, and we try to say it like it is!
Jive: As I mentioned in your earlier question about how I would explain the podcast to a stranger, we are just some regular guys, chatting about hockey and giving our opinions. We are not aiming to be your up to the minute news source or prediction masters. We just want to get together and talk about the Wild. This friendly conversation I think is what sets us apart. For the listeners and personalities of the show, we can all just hang out and talk some puck.
Crease and Assist: What made you decide to start your own YouTube channel? Any other 3 in the Box innovations on the drawing board in the future? Smell-o-vision?
Kenney: That’s one thing I’m very proud of. I’ve been saying I wanted to do a live show for a few years, possibly with video. Every off season, we try to do studio upgrades. And that’s what we do. This past season it happened to be to test out the possibility of adding video. And trust me, we stress test the hell out of everything before we add to the show. It’s been piece by piece, but we have come a long way since the days of recording in the basement of a bar. We have a few ideas of some improvements this summer but it will probably be an internal upgrade, nothing that any listener or viewer would see. With out giving up too much, if upgrades happen how we want, there might be more remote hosts on the horizon.
Aaron: We’ve been talking about doing live streaming audio for a while, but it just doesn’t seem like there is a large enough audience for that (unless you’re attached to a broadcast network), so when things like Twitch and YouTube Live started to grow, we figured that would be a natural way for us to do the streaming where there would be an actual audience. As for innovations, we’re constantly working to improve the streaming experience. I feel like the tech is still in it’s infancy for us home broadcasters, so we’ll see where the tech brings us.
Jive: The YouTube channel was a way to bring in some of that feeling of just hanging out to everyone. While I enjoy listening to podcasts on my commute to work or while I’m washing dishes, sometimes seeing things says more. My hope was that it would allow the listeners to get to know us more.
Crease and Assist: What is your favorite memory / episode from podcasting? Anything you’d like to say to your listeners, fans out there that you may have not said on the show?
Kenney: My favorite thing is our fans we have made and the people we regularly interact with. We’ve gotten to meet and hang out with some of the best Wild fans out there, and that probably wouldn’t have happened without this show. On that same note, I’m pretty sure it’s been because of us that these same people have met each other in person because of us, and I’m damn proud of that. I’ll put this out there, and I’m sure we’ve said this on the show, If you run into us at a concert or hanging at a bar, expect to have a Sambuca with us!
Aaron: Aside from the fun guests we get to have on the show, I would say the playoff run in 2015 where the Wild beat the Blues in Round 1. We had a hilarious intro where we overdubbed the crowd chanting “Ott You SUCK” and the “ALL-EN” razzing over Rock N Roll Pt 2. Still one of the funniest things I think we’ve ever done (Episode 71 – Taylor Swifter, if you’re wondering)
Jive: It is hard to pick one episode as my favorite. Every episode has it’s own unique qualities. Kind of like having kids. You don’t have a favorite, but you love them all for their uniqueness. That said my favorite episode is probably #71 where we were riding high after taking out St. Louis and having some fun with Gary Glitter in the background. There is something to be said about the spirit that gets brought out when it’s playoff time. To the listeners and fans of the show, thanks! I don’t think that we say it enough. Thanks for listening to the three of us knuckleheads and I hope that we can give you an outlet to talk and think about some puck as that is what the listeners give to me by being a listener!
We’d like to give a huge thank you to Aaron, Kenney and Jive for participating in this interview and all of their work on the podcast and for being great people who we are very proud to consider good friends. Whether its watching their podcast on YouTube or listening to it on your commute to work / work out they do a tremendous job and I think its a great show that any Wild fan would enjoy!