As a person who has been blogging about hockey for over 15 years, I have gained an appreciation for those that create the content for fans to digest and consider. In a day and age where you can use your Smartphone or laptop to compose a podcast, its easier to do than ever but what makes one want to share their voice that way? Whether its blogging or making a podcast, it takes dedication, passion and creativity as well as time to pull it off.
About 8 months ago I came across Brave the Wild (@BravetheWild on Twitter), a Minnesota Wild-focused podcast by Joey Awaijane. From the first few seconds of the first episode I listened to, with the opening music from Capcom’s Mega Man 2 I had a feeling I had stumbled upon something pretty special. But besides my own love of video game music, Joey’s knowledge and tremendous attention to detail was very apparent. In the months that ensued, I continued to listen to his show and I was even fortunate enough to become friends with Joey and I even was invited to be a part of the show.
So as I thought it would be a great idea to let him share his journey as a Wild podcaster and if you haven’t listened to him yet a good reason to check out his work.
In Joey’s own words, he started podcasting on January 28, 2008 with the “Paladino Live” Podcast. He said download numbers were very modest in those days, and he realized that having a general podcast that covered the core four sports as we call it, things were too broad and not focused, so he thought having shows with a “one team identity” would make a difference. In April 2008 the Purple Mafia Podcast was born, Paladino Live continued with just the Wild and Timberwolves with a little Twins talk mixed in. Finally by August 2008 Paladino Live was officially dissolved, Timberwolves Explosion and Brave The Wild were born! Brave The Wild officially hit iTunes on September 1st 2008, because of delays in publishing the new podcast feed, but better late than never!
Here is my interview with Joey.
1. Have you always been a hockey fan? Did you play the game? Whether it’s playing or fandom, describe your exposure to the game and where you gained your love for hockey?
@BravetheWild – I’ve been a fan of the game since accidently happening on random games in the late 80’s, and became a full-time fan during the 1991 playoff run, and haven’t stopped since! I never played the real game unfortunately, just floor hockey and all that, but man I loved it! I always wanted to actually play ice hockey, but figured I was too late to the party. My unconditional love for the game started during that ’91 playoff run, there is no sport on earth with higher quality playoff action than our game. Not to mention the Golden Gophers runs in the Doug Woog era, which eventually paid off in the early years of Don Lucia… we finally “won a cup” in my lifetime!!!
2. When did you decide to do a podcast, how did that come about? Were there any outside influences that made you think, I should do a podcast?
@BravetheWild – In 2007, me and my friend Paul Canniff happened upon a live internet radio show called “SubPennyRadio” where the host “Simon” talked about penny stocks. The guy was so cool, and had me call in regularly. He told me I was a natural, I one day thought I would start a show, but wasn’t sure about LIVE365 as you’d have to commit to an exact time and all that. When I was introduced to podcasts, which you can record on your own time, I realized it was time to get things going. I kept putting it off and putting it off, as I was doing Minnesota Vikings Reviews on youtube, and that’s when I started with the name Paladino Live. A Kansas City Chiefs video reviewer invited me to thesportsstuff.com, with Dylan Richardson, the founder of that website and I moved to Podcasting only in January 2008.
3. If you had to describe Brave the Wild or Purple Mafia or Timberwolves Explosion to a stranger who has never heard of it. What would you say as a way to describe what it’s all about?
@BravetheWild – At the end of the day, they’ll be hearing the point of view from a fan who’s been around for quite awhile, someone who’s studied the game for decades and has an unusual recall of many events and moments in team history. Also, they will have to understand that I am not a cheerleader or a “rube” as Dan Barreiro would put it, you’ll be getting more of a New York personality, (so I’ve been told) who demands more from the team than the average fan.
4. 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 Brave the Wild? Has it affected your Wild-fandom in any way? Are there other podcasts, writers or fans that influence the way you view the team?
@BravetheWild – To be honest, I’ve learned so much more about the game than I thought I knew coming in. I learned more and more about how to build lines, more and more about what is a good defenseman pairing, sometimes I think back to the beginning and I’m surprised how much I didn’t know, that I thought I did. Haha. It’s made me sit back and realize that maybe we don’t know it all so to speak, and learning from others is paramount in life. All of this, including the over politicizing of the NBA, has made me a much bigger fan of the game itself, I’m understanding more and more nuances of the game, that maybe I just didn’t know before, and it’s making it all more and more exciting. I’ll spend hours just surfing through hockeydb.com looking at player after player past and present, not realizing how much time I’m spending on it. I would say you yourself, Derek Felska have educated me more than you might think. It’s like, sure this guy might have skill to the moon, but if his skating is mediocre, he may very well be screwed in today’s gsme, ala our hero Benoit Pouliot to name one…
5. What do you think makes your podcast from the many podcast options we’ve seen from Michael Russo & Jim Souhan’s show to Judd Zulgad with SKOR or to KFAN’s Beyond the Pod. What do you think will Wild fans get from your podcast that they may not get from those other ones?
@BravetheWild – For one, I’ll stay on topic more than all the above, you won’t get a heck of a lot of political conversation about stories that I think the average public gets their fill of already on a day to day basis. They will get a show that focuses on the game itself, and gives listeners a true escape from the endless broken record of the news that never ends.
6. How did you get involved with @mnwildprospects group on Twitter? Did they reach out to you and how was it decided that you would cover the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League? What else can you tell us about that experience so far?
@BravetheWild – I have a constant interest in the prospects for this team. Like I’ve mentioned probably too often on the show, we’ve been searching forever for a true goal scoring phenom. What started the whole thing was, I would often post about prospects on the now former Minnesota Wild Hardcore Facebook page. My brother in law, Chance Kostuck referred me to Pavel Bunet of what was then called the mnwplayers Facebook page, where the focus was on prospects especially. Pavel is from the Czech Republic, so he had a closer prospective of European prospects than any of us, and it was a match made in heaven. Later on, the page changed to mnwprosects, and more people came on board, namely Justin Bakke and Brandon Quast to help cover the leagues here in North America. I was mainly keeping up with prospects on the show and referring listeners to the page, but sometime last year, Brandon was very busy, and needed help covering Wild prospects in the QMJHL and BCHL, so Pavel requested I take over those to leagues on an interim basis. This ultimately lead to me covering them permanently, and Brandon ended up covering the other leagues his was covering in more detail. It’s been an absolute blast, and I can’t wait until things start up again, it’s always nice to dream that one of these guys you’re keeping a close eye on will not only make the team, but be a star one day.
7. 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 your show?
@BravetheWild – I would have the say, the episode titled “Worst Team In The NHL” which was published in February 2012. My great friend Neil Thesing was at his absolute best, and we had a blast going back and forth about the team, even though things completely gone down the tubes that year, after such an amazing start with new coach Mike Yeo. As some may know, Neil’s health down spiraled not long after this show was released, he was on the show many times after that, but this show was his best. Neil passed away in February 2018, and that episode will always be my greatest memory of him, at least on the show. I would like to say that these shows are almost like a lifeline for me, anytime I feel down about this and that, I always remember the show, and the loyal listeners. You guys are some of my best friends in the World, even if I don’t show it always.
We’d like to thank Joey for his time in answering these questions and we really hope you check out his show and with NHL training camps still planned to begin on July 10th, its more likely you’ll see a new show coming up sooner rather than later!