I’m pretty curious, by nature, and that means a good sit-down carries great attraction for me. Over the years, I figure I’ve done some 10 thousand or so interviews, and a few have stuck out in my mind, for various reasons.
I recall a conversation, early in my career, with Hockey Night in Canada great, Dick Irvin. I was young and green and nervous as hell to talk to him. I’m sure the interview could have gone better, but, he took the time to encourage me afterward, and tell me what he liked about the conversation we’d had. I came away more determined than ever, to become as good as I possibly could, at being an interviewer..
I met George Chuvalo, for the first time, in 1993. He stopped in London, Ontario, where I was employed as Sports Director for a radio station. I was struck by his kind nature and by how thoughtful and eloquent he was. A man who’d endured unspeakable family tragedies. Yet he could smile and communicate the importance of the lessons he’d been taught by those tragedies. I’m sure we talked boxing, too, but it was his life story, outside the ring, that really stayed with me.
The first time I interviewed the legendary Anne Murray, she sang happy birthday to me. Hard to beat that.
Jack Nicklaus told me that, even though he’d been retired for some time, he couldn’t enjoy a fun round of golf. The competitive spirit remained just too strong.
Stephen Harper expressed being surprised that a couple of sports guys could talk so extensively about politics. That was gratifying.
Bruce McNall quickly transitioning from glib to grim, when asked if he felt remorse for his crimes, considering a colleague had committed suicide.
Brian Mulroney singing the praises of Pat Marsden.
Roger Neilson‘s heartache over being removed as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, when diagnosed with cancer.
Joannie Rochette recounting the immense task of putting her mother’s death behind her to skate at the Olympics.
Joe Theismann blurting out that he was embarrassed to have ever worn the Argo “A” after they’d signed Ricky Williams.
Former Raptor Matt Bonner saying he’d love to come curling with me, but could I take him shopping first so he could buy his own curling stone?
All memorable. All for very different reasons.
And that’s what I love most about interviewing someone.
Whether they choke you up, break your heart, inspire you or just make you laugh out loud, a great conversation holds something special.