More Q and A

• Interviewing myself again? (I’m an easy “get”)

•  The first time I did a Q & A with myself, I was rattled by the tough line of questioning.

•  I’ll try to do better this time. The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Mark, was there ever a story that you’ve completely forgotten you covered?

Probably quite a few, I imagine. This one, for instance: I recently received this photograph from Mark Tipton, who was a radio news reporter in Cincinnati at the time I was there. He was with WSAI, I was with WEBN. That’s him with the moustache in the center.

It slowly came back to me. The occasion: Al Jardine of the Beach Boys meets “Susie Cincinnati.” He wrote the Beach Boys’ song by that title about a cab driver who gave him a ride in the early ‘70s. In advance of a 1976 concert at Riverfront Coliseum, the band’s label placed newspaper ads to try to find her and invite her to the show. (That’s Al Stann, Warner Brothers rep, on the right in the photo.) They met at the airport..Jardine signed an autograph . . slow news day.

Who was the very first musician you interviewed?

John McLaughlin, a.k.a. Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. Hailed by no less than Jeff Beck and Pat Metheny as the world’s best guitarist, he played with Miles Davis and Tony Williams. And his Mahavishnu Orchestra took the fusion of jazz and rock to new heights. For some reason, when he stopped by WIOT-FM in Toledo around 1973, I – the News Director – was tapped by the Program Director, Dorian Paster, to do the interview. Dorian himself was a full-blown jazz buff, so I still don’t know why he didn’t interview McLaughlin himself. At some other date, I took photographs of McLaughlin playing his distinctive double-neck.

You had a pretty scraggly beard back then. When did you decide to lose that?

On a vacation trip to the Mediterranean, around 1984 or ’85. I’d had the beard since 1970; 15 years was enough. There’s a school of thought that suggests I might have moved from radio to television sooner, had I chosen the clean-shaven path. But that presupposes I wanted to be on TV, which I’ve debunked here. I always felt I had a face made for radio. Not having to shave every day was a side benefit.

That post you wrote, Sex and the Single Reporter, was pretty salacious. Got any other juicy stories?

Ummm…how about a couple of footnotes on the general theme:

I once traveled for a day on the campaign bus of Jesse Jackson, who was running for president in 1984. I found myself sitting next to an attractive redhead who was banging away on a portable typewriter. I would likely have chatted her up, but she was working on deadline and not throwing out any vibes conducive to fraternizing. I noticed her name on a notebook and recognized it from NY Times bylines: Maureen Dowd. She’s since become an opinion columnist and author of considerable repute.

You know how some married couples sometimes have a “fantasy tryst” agreement? Y’know, if I allowed you one roll in the hay with someone else (presumably famous), who would he/she be? When my wife and I played that game in the early ‘90s, she was taking a slightly greater risk than most spouses. I was at CNN by then, interviewing movie stars and starlets and female vocalists all the time and….who knows…lightning could strike. It never did, though. I think my wish-tryst of choice was on record as Meg Ryan. I had actually interviewed her for radio in the ‘80s; she was not very warm, kind of charmless, in fact. But that’s not what fantasy trysts are about, are they?

On assignment for Showbiz Today in Memphis, I was gathering Elvis-related stuff for an upcoming live remote. On the first night, a woman introduced herself and sort of latched onto me and my crew. She gave me her card and a couple nights later, we met up on my last evening there. We hit several Beale Street bars and wound up staggering into my room at the Peabody Hotel, very inebriated. We fell to thrashing about on a twin bed, fumbling at each other’s wardrobe…etc, etc. Suddenly, my hand landed on something warm and runny on the sheets. Looking at my hand by the light of only the TV, the substance looked dark. Eeew. I bravely sniffed at it and realized what it was. Housekeeping had placed a chocolate candy on the pillow, which we obviously overlooked. We had inadvertently heated it up and loosened its wrapper.

More salacious stuff here.

Have you got a hockey story you haven’t already told in your three previous posts about the sport?

Oh,, for sure. And thank you for asking. You know how much I love talking about hockey.

Shut up; get on with it.

OK, Chris Chelios played 26 NHL seasons and retired at age 48. That longevity alone makes me a fan of his…since I can’t “retire” from playing beer league hockey myself and I’m in my 70s. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to interview Chelios in 1996. In advance of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, I was producing a CNN package on sports stars who were restauranteurs in that town. Michael Jordan had a steakhouse, golfer Fred Couples invested in a suburban mall restaurant called the Clubhouse, and Chelios had opened a joint called Cheli’s Chili Bar. Jordan and Couples did not make themselves available for interviewing, but Cheli did.

He grew up in a Chicago suburb. His father immigrated from Greece in 1951 and Chris worked in restaurants his dad ran. The Chili Bar was on Madison, near the United Center, where Chelios played for the Blackhawks. I quickly got the soundbites I needed about the restaurant, which both his parents happily ran. The rest of our time was spent, naturally, talking about hockey and especially playing defense, the position we shared. I bought a refrigerator magnet in the gift shop and he autographed it for me:

“To Mark, the second best D-man”

More hockey stories here


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