Welcome to Meet the Commenters (David). You are a man of many talents from blogger, to penguin enthusiast, to podcaster. But your biggest talent very well might be impressions and voices as seen from your take on The Rant. Tell us a little more about this talent of yours. When did you discover you could do this, what celebrities can you impersonate, etc?
I've always liked making people laugh. As a kid, I wasn't great at telling jokes, but I discovered that I could get a laugh by doing accents and impersonations. I just developed an arsenal of voices I could use. Early on my impressions were mostly Simpsons characters, but I'm pretty good at impersonating our last three presidents, some Family Guy characters, Tracy Morgan, Christopher Walken...just about anyone with a peculiarity in their speech. I've found I'm much better at imitating speech patterns than I am at actual voice modulation though. The voice guys who really amaze me are the ones who can nail every aspect of a voice...the cadence, accent, pitch, tone...everything. Billy West (did a bunch of voices in Space Jam, and about half the characters in the Futurama, plus tons of other stuff) is the best, in my opinion
Let back it up a bit. Where did you grow up? What did your folks do? What was your family like? What were you like as a child?
My family moved around a bit before settling in the suburbs of KC. I was actually born in Lenexa, but moved shortly afterward. After a brief stint in Memphis, I ended up in Chicago before coming back to the Johnson County area when I was eight
My family was just sort of a buttoned down midwestern family. Both my parents were from very small Nebraska towns that are perpetually stuck about 50 years in the past. Everyone in my family was sort of expected to stay quiet and do what they were supposed to do. They weren't religious conservatives or anything...in fact, quite the opposite. They are just very straightforward people. My mom worked in an elementary school library and my dad was a federal law enforcement agent. I'm sure this will shock everyone on the site, but I've always had a defiant streak in me, which made me a black sheep in the family. I tested off the charts but school and I could never get along, and I got bad grades, which was a source of constant struggle between my parents and I. I was a frustrated slacker, and when I hit my teen years and started dressing weird and listening to punk, I think my parents were pretty much lost as to what to do with me. My high school years were a little rocky at times, but I made it through. Most people seem to really let loose and go nuts in college, but I'd already drank and smoked myself silly by that point, so college me was actually pretty tame compared to high school me
When did you get in a band? what did you like best about playing music? What was the band's name and what kind of music did you play? Is there anything recorded we can upload with this post?
I cycled through a bunch of random punk bands that were never going to do anything starting my freshman year of high school. My junior year was when I got into the closest thing to a serious band I'd ever be affiliated with. We were a metal band, but went through a lot of different phases over the four years we were together. We started out doing ridiculous Slayer-type metal and were called Kansas Chainsaw Massacre, but we quickly realized no one was going to take us seriously with that shtick. We then became Chimera, and became sort of a Converge style metal group (illmitch knows who this is). Then when a more popular band called Chimaira came out, we changed our name to The Facility (named after our favorite level in Goldeneye), and started playing a more technical (and listenable) style, but we didn't last long after that, as guys started moving away and losing interest. There used to be one remaining song online, but it looks like it's been taken down now. My copy of our EP is lost, so I'd have to reach out to our old singer to try and track something down. I'll look into it
What made you choose KU?
I was planning on going to Nebraska through most of my childhood, mostly because my parents both went there and I was a big Husker fan. When I reached high school, the idea of moving to Nebraska on my own and paying for out-of-state tuition seemed less and less appealing. My band started playing some shows in Lawrence, and I fell in love with the town. I liked the laid-back feel of it and the variety of people you just don't see in the suburbs. By the time I was 16, I had already decided I would be a Jayhawk
How and when did you find RCT?
It looks like I joined in August of 2010 as PenguinHawk (now an abandoned account), right before KU football really took off under Turner Gill. I don't remember exactly, but I don't think I was a lurker for very long. I don't recall how I found it, but I remember instantly loving it because of the football coverage and the meaningful dialogue in the comments. The Mangino era was over, no one was sure what to expect out of Gill, and this was the only site really committed to covering and discussing KU football
I know you had a child rather young. Was it difficult to finish school while being a parent? What was that like?
Well, fortunately my wife and I were already living together and in a committed relationship, so it wasn't like that movie with Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl or anything, but it wasn't easy. I tried just dealing with a full load of classes and working full time, but my grades suffered, I never slept, and became really stressed out. I eventually scaled back to just taking a couple of evening classes each semester, and graduated in six years instead of four. I was working at a warehouse loading and unloading boxes during the day, going to class in the evening, and when I was at home, my wife was usually working, so it was a tough situation. We got through it and had a couple more kids because we didn't want to have our first kid finally becoming independent, and then hit the reset button and start over when we were 30. It's kind of weird now. My wife and I are the right age to have a toddler, but not an 11 year old, so when we go to our oldest's sporting events, it's this weird situation where all the other parents are significantly older. Or at least I think it's weird. My wife can just strike up a conversation with anyone and not feel uncomfortable
We are all familiar with your site Blanalytics. What made you decide to start your own site? Where do you eventually want to take it?
I hope to get back to keeping up with the site, but I'm so busy right now I don't know when I'll be able to. I started the site because I've been using stats to rate teams in one way or another since childhood. I used to come up with new stats and different ways of measuring players and teams for fun as a kid (I was a weird kid). As I saw sports analytics taking off, I always looked at what people were doing and thought "I can do that." Of course, I don't have the time or resources that guys like Bill Connelly or Ken Pomeroy have, so my ratings formulas are simplistic relative to theirs (and as such, not as reliable), but they do have a pretty good track record in terms of predictive value
In a dream world, I'd have time to just focus on the site and making it a college sports stats heaven. Unfortunately, that's probably a pipe dream and I haven't even touched it since the end of basketball season. I may have to wait until I'm done with school and have more time to really try and get it up and running, because I hate half-assing it the way I have so far
I think you have mentioned you are going back to school and studying analytics. What would you eventually like to do in this field?
Well, here's the thing. I went back to school to learn more about the technology and software being used in the field, and hopefully get a full-time job in sports analytics, and maybe I'll still end up there. But an opportunity I wasn't expecting came up this summer. Last spring, our local radio station needed a new play-by-play announcer for the local college team. My wife knew someone who works at the station and floated my name out there. I made an audition tape of me mock-broadcasting a KU basketball game, and waited...and kept waiting. Eventually, the station owner got back to me and interviewed me. During the interview I mentioned that I'd be willing to help out with anything he needed around the station in the meantime while he was making a decision. A few weeks later, I got a call from him out of the blue asking if I'd cover the local athletes in the state high school track meet for the station. I volunteered, and it went well. Apparently it went really well, because afterward he asked if I'd like to start anchoring the news at the station on Saturday mornings. After six weeks or so, the station owner was still impressed, and offered me a full-time position as the weekday news anchor AND the play-by-play announcer for the local college, as well as their high school game of the week each Friday. Long story short, I just suddenly started a career in radio. It's a local station that really only reaches 6 or 7 smaller towns, just outside the southwest edge of the Kansas City metro.
Still, it's a really exciting opportunity. Hosting a sports radio show and being a sports broadcaster were two childhood dreams that I'd given up on quickly, just assuming they were unattainable. We'll see if I can eventually get my own show, but for now I'm having fun with the news, and I had the time of my life just calling a 3A football game last Friday. Our previous announcer is still doing football for the University, but I'll do some color analysis with him for a few games this fall. Starting next week I'll be the official play-by-play guy for volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball. I'm still finishing my data science degree because, at this point, it seems silly to just quit when I'm going to be graduating in the spring, but I'm hoping that I can turn this into a lifelong career in broadcasting. For now, I'm just relishing the fact that I actually have a job doing something I really enjoy
What has been your biggest success and biggest regret?
It sounds cheesy, but my biggest success has to be navigating the tough times and ending up with a wonderful wife and three awesome kids. I think my biggest regret is the fact that I never really pursued any of the dreams I had as a kid. I got lucky that this radio opportunity appeared from nowhere. Again, my family was very straight-laced and low key. Once, in my early days in college, I told my dad I wanted to move to L.A. and try carving out a name for myself doing some writing and voiceover work. Judging by his reaction, you'd think I had told him I was moving south of the border to start a human trafficking ring. Sure, it probably wouldn't have worked out for me, but I had a lot of dreams and goals when I was younger, and I always just sort of let them get crushed instead of being determined to try and make them work
If a RCTer showed up at your front door and wanted to be shown a good time, what would you do and where would you take that person?
I live in a town of 15,000, so I'd probably take them to Lawrence. If I had to stay in my town, I'd take them to the "Mexican food" restaurant in town. There's a legit Mexican place that's run by people who are actually from Mexico, but that's not where we'd go. We'd go to the one across that street that's so Americanized it's not really even Mexican food at all. They fry their tacos and burritos. I'm serious. I think they fry everything they sell. They may fry the forks after they wash them. They also make their own nacho cheese and it's amazing. No matter what you order, you're probably consuming 100g of saturated fat. People either love it or think it's repulsive. You can tell what side I'm on. Other than food, there's really nothing at all to do, unless you want to take in an NAIA college football game or something. There are a few bars, but they're a little...shall we say rustic? Yeah we'd probably just go to Lawrence
Where do you live: The very far reaches of the KC metro
Facial hair: None
Any pets: Two tortoises, a lizard, and then my world-famous cats
What kind of car do you drive: My everyday car is an old Nissan Sentra. The family vehicle is a badass Honda Odyssey that I love more than I thought I could love a minivan
Corrective lenses: No
Hair style: Short
Favorite movie: Sleepy Hollow, don't @ me
Favorite tv show: Walking Dead
Favorite beer or thing to drink: Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
Favorite band: depends on the day you ask me
Favorite food: Bacon cheeseburgers
Favorite non KU team: Chicago Bulls or Bears
All time favorite KU player: Todd Reesing
First concert: AFI, Kid Dynamite and 88 Fingers Louie at El Torreon
First w-2 job: Umpiring youth baseball games
Best athlete seen play live: Bo Jackson
Favorite dinosaur when you were a kid: Stegosaurus