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"Take Ten" with Mike Maniscalco

Mike Maniscalco is the new host for 99.9 The Fan's Carolina Hurricanes pre-game and post game shows. He also co-hosts The Fan's morning show, "The Fanatics" with Dan Mason which airs from 6-9 every weekday morning. We have mentioned before that The Fan is the official home of the Hurricanes and broadcasts all of their games. You can listen to the station online, (and of course listen to the games as well) with their online live streaming link. The link can also be found on the left sidebar under the "Canes Related Sites" heading. Finally, Mike also hosts the "Canes Corner" features in which the station broadcasts live from various sports bars in the Triangle and fans get to ask questions of certain players who are guests. You can check out a recording of the most recent event here which featured Justin Williams. Obviously, Mike is a very busy guy, but was nice enough to take the time to answer our 10 questions. Feel free to leave any questions or comments for Mike at the end of the interview.

1. We know that you just recently started at "99.9 The Fan" and co-host "The Fanatics" which is on the air from 6-9 AM on weekdays. What did you do previously to that?

I spent the past six and a half years in Richmond, VA at Sports Radio 910 as the afternoon drive show host. While there I covered the ACC, NFL and local college football and basketball in the area. I also worked closely with Richmond Hockey Fights Cancer, the Richmond group is phenomenal. Prior to that I worked for WGR 55 in Buffalo, NY. I know that might get me in trouble here, (for the record not all Sabre fans are jerks, my wife has never broken a pint glass intentionally in her life, and we actually were at the RBC Center for game one of the conference finals 2 years ago and were embarrassed by some of the Sabre fan behavior) at WGR I was the evening host from six to ten pm and also served as a pre and post game host for the Buffalo Sabres. I also did pre-game work for the Bills. I also worked for the Sabres Organization during the 1996-97 Northeast division championship season as an in-game video scout and advanced video scout. I started as an intern in the job and by the end of the year was a member of the staff under Ted Nolan, Don Lever and Paul Therriault.

2. What is your favorite part of the job so far? Your least favorite?

I am really enjoying the morning show, I think we are doing some great things right off the hop. I also love covering the NHL again. The League was not big in Richmond, so while I followed it, it was not a topic of conversation. Working with the Canes organization has been my favorite part outside of 6-9am. From the players to Coach Laviolette and the media relations people Kyle Hanlin and Mike Sundheim it has been great to see their enthusiasm about the game. I do not have a least favorite part, I really love what I do and I hope that shows in my work on and off the air.

3. Who is/was your favorite NHL player to interview? Have you ever had a difficult person to interview and can you tell us about that?

I have a couple, but Pat LaFontaine is at the top of the list. The great thing about hockey players is for the most part they are all good people to talk to, in the short time here in Raleigh all of the Hurricane players have been fantastic.

Difficult interview: that would be Kyle Welliston who has a web page about mid-major basketball might have been the worst interview ever, if you have a site that is appearing to track that aspect of the game and you are unwilling to answer questions it is an interview destined for the circular file. Also when a guy comes off as arrogant and like he doesn’t know what he is talking about or the host seems to know more than “the expert” the interview isn’t going to last long. Of course I am sure he would say the host asked the wrong questions.

4. In your opinion what could the NHL do in general, and the Hurricanes do in particular, to increase interest in the sport?

Really great question, the simple answer is just get people out to the game to really understand how talented the NHL players are. The game does not translate well to television, especially if you did not grow up with hockey, but in person when you can see the whole ice and watch plays develop and see the speed of the game it is hard not to be a fan. I also think finding a commissioner who knows something about the game could help, but I am not here to bash Gary Bettman. People say educate the fans, so a promotion where you can take someone who knows nothing about hockey to a game for cheap tickets and have them sit next to someone who knows the game would be a great promotion, maybe a former player or media member.

5. The NHLPA just elected a new president. How do you think that the union can better serve the players?

By making sure that the front office members of the league understand that locking out a season hurts the game. The NHLPA has had so many problems with leaders that have bilked money from the players or cut sub-par deals, it is time for a resident that has the players and games best interests, not his own. Also take a page from the NFL, I know Gene Upshaw is being hammered for the medical situation of former players, but if you look at the NFL today it has the best TV plan and today’s players are taken care of because of how the Union and the League work together. Once the NHL is making billions the NHLPA can take care of the players that built the league.

6. If you could make one rule change in the NHL, what would it be and why?

New commissioner: reasoning for that. can you tell me who won the Stanley Cup in the 2004-2005 season?

Oh sorry you asked rule change. Get rid of the trapezoid behind the net, if the goalie wants to go out and play the puck let him. It will lead to more scoring chances and it will protect defensemen from getting run, plus it hurts great puck handling goalies like Martin Brodeur who can start a break out of the defensive zone.

7. A few teams around the league are embracing fan bloggers and giving them press credentials to cover their respective teams. What is your opinion about this, and how do you think NHL teams should handle fan bloggers who ask for press credentials?

The teams have to protect the working media areas. I think until bloggers are viewed as working media and not fans who created website, it will be tough to credential them. The press box is a place not just a name, it is viewed as a job site where cheering is not part of the experience. I know that when I am covering a game I want to be in a professional atmosphere, not saying bloggers don’t understand this, but bloggers are not held to traditional journalistic standards. On one hand the exposure bloggers give is great, on the other some can post whatever they want and try to post it as fact. This sounds horribly elitist and it is not meant to be, but if the blog is picked up by a valid media source then that person should be credentialed, if it is just a website started by one person, where would the credential list stop? I think for right now a media affiliation is needed.

8. Not only do you co-host "The Fanatics" morning show, you also host "The Fan's" pre-game and post-game coverage for the Hurricanes. You have also hosted "Canes Corner". Are there any other Hurricanes related projects or shows you are working on that we should be aware of? Do you have any comments to share about the shows?

Well everyone should listen to “the Fanatics” from 6 to 9am on the new 99.9fm The Fan. Was that a shameless enough plug? I think that we are giving the Canes solid pre and post game coverage that improves with each broadcast and will continue to get better. Canes Corner has been a lot of fun, I hope that more of the player's personality is coming out during those shows, that is a real opportunity to find out where a player came from, not just his home town but how he made it to the NHL. Also being at the Tap houses and seeing the fans reaction has been great. There are no other Cane shows that I know of on the horizon.

9. What can you share about "The Fan's" website?

You can find our site right here. The Fan. It is in conjunction with WRAL-TV and their sports department. There is already a ton of information on there, from blogs written by the hosts, to interviews done by morning and afternoon shows and WRAL puts up interviews where you can download the video, and we are streaming so you can catch us at work or home on the computer.

10. Blogs have become a very popular form of media. Does "The Fan" have any plans to use a blog or blogs on their site? Do you have an opinion about blogs and how they fit in with the mainstream media as a whole?

Another good question; as mentioned in the previous answer, we have a lot of blogging going on the webpage right now and as traditional thoughts of the media change, remember sports radio wasn’t viewed as journalism too long ago, bloggings role will expand and change as more media outlets embrace it. I think that blogging can be a great way to add insight and coverage to a team or league, but as stated earlier it is also a place right now where it is not checked by other sources and anything can be posted. That can be dangerous, reporting something that people could take as fact even if it is just an opinion and stated as such. Right now blogs are on the outside of the mainstream, but they are a heck of a lot closer than five years ago. Look at how many athletes are blogging for major websites. In the next five to ten years, bloggers will take the place of most print columnists because of the easy access and availability but I definitely think that bloggers will become more accepted.