Dream On: a (in-progress) wish list for interviews

Most of the job interviews I’ve had for newsroom positions are pretty standard — I’d almost say they’re easier than a job interview for a corporate position. Or maybe that’s just me, my personality just works better in a newsroom interview, editors aren’t as concerned that I talk with my hands or talk too fast (both which I’ve been told are nervous tics, except I naturally talk with my hands, and the talking fast — yeah, that’s super natural for me too).

But I had one newsroom interview, for an internship at a paper in western Ontario, where they asked me a bunch of character-testing questions. We’d been warned about those in an internship prep class, but they still kind of caught me off-guard.

One of the questions was, who is your dream interview?

I still don’t know how to answer that question. Do I answer it selfishly, with someone I’m interested in and would never get to talk to otherwise (example given below) or do I answer for the good of the community, like in Lloydminster, Jack Kemp or Bill Kondro? (see ‘virtual exhibit’ tab on main page.)

At the time, my answer was I would interview the original Crickets — the two guys, J.I. Allison and Joe B. Maudlin, who were long-time bandmates and best friends of Buddy Holly in the ’50s. Might as well throw in Niki Sullivan and Sonny Curtis for good measure. (note: this interview list does not take into account the fact that some of those listed might have passed away, like Niki Sullivan.)

Even now, I’d love those interviews. (That kind of interview fits into the selfish, self-serving category mentioned above, by the way.) However, I don’t know if I’d interview Buddy Holly himself. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s hard to imagine “what if,” since the man died 52 years ago, or because I get the impression he might not be the best interview ever, based on the interview tapes I have heard with him. Meet him? Hell yes. Interview him? Not sure.

The Calgary Herald ran a story on Sunday about Keith Richards, and I realized he’s on my dream list to interview. He’s had an intense — for lack of better word — life, and he’s honest and colourful about it. I think Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings would also fit into that category.

So I started thinking — who is my dream list to interview? It’s a work in progress, and embarrassingly enough, a short list right now, but:

  • The Crickets — by the way, for not being a journalist, Paul McCartney did a very good job of interviewing them, and others, for the Real Buddy Holly Story documentary
  • Keith Richards, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash — see above
  • A veteran — I don’t want the typical war story. I don’t know what exactly I want, but it’s on here anyways. (By the way, I’ve interviewed a Holocaust survivor, which I’m now realizing — not that I didn’t realize it at the time — is pretty special to be able to put on my list of people I’ve interviewed.)

In short, I just like interesting people — but I guess, doesn’t everybody? I mentioned earlier that I keep some old interviews as a pickmeup, and some of the interviews that take up the most space are the ones conducted for this story. It was a semester-long assignment, so I had certain guidelines — read: word counts — to adhere to, so some good stuff, like when he talked about the fact that he normally doesn’t talk about his job, or else offers a very short description (unlike this story, which took probably five or six hours of interviews with him alone) of what he does, didn’t make it into the story.

I’d love to get on a project like what the Lloyd Archives is doing, interviewing prominent members of the community, and then transcribing them for posterity. When I worked at Natural Resources Canada, I had a research project that involved reading a lot of interviews from guys who had worked for the forestry service in its early days (Canadian Forestry Service celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1999). What was interesting was that while most of the people who work at Natural Resources Canada are now scientists first, foresters second, in those days, it was reverse. And fascinating to read interviews from the 1970s and 1980s, when one of the first questions asked was, “Please state your birthdate and birthplace,” and often, the reply was sometime in the late 1800s!

edit: Since this post is a work in progress, I’ll note the times I add people to my wish list. 

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One thought on “Dream On: a (in-progress) wish list for interviews

  1. Mine, at this moment in my life, is Amy Brenneman hands down. She's so inspiring as a person, and she has had this secret pain that no one knew about until recently and made it into a play and just, yay. So inspiring. I like inspirational people!

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