First off, this is super late - I blame my Clark Kent job for this. Second, this is another in the series of "mini-interviews" like the one we had with Ryan Thompson the other day. Jody is awesome. He will tweet you back and is a fun follow.
He'd never cuss you out in DMs. If you don't already, check out his blog and twitter. Without further ado . . . the man, the legend, the DJ Jazzy Jody:
Where did you grow up and what sports teams (regardless of league) did you follow?
Short answer: Kearns.
Long answer: I hail from the mighty metropolis known as K-Town. The government calls it Kearns. Opposing football teams back in the day called it their worst nightmare. Sad to say, most schools have called us "homecoming game opponent" for a couple of decades. By the way, has anybody but journalists use the word "hail" without the accompanying "Mary" since the 1950s? Anyway, I love Kearns. Always have, always will. Even if the Pic-N-Save, Larrimore's Bakery and Skateland West no longer exist. I was Mr. Spirit my junior and senior years. Painted myself, wore a green-and-gold Captain Kearns cape, once riled up a football foe's team bus so much that a half-dozen players jumped out of the emergency exit door and chased me around a parking lot after a loss, occasionally sported coconuts and thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Cougar (not the Courteney Cox kind, of course). To make a short story longer, after I'm done being the Jazz beat writer, I hope to get a promotion to become the Kearns beat writer.
And the sports teams?
Short answer: Steelers, Braves and Jazz (and by admitting that I grew up as a Green-Dantley and Stockton-Malone-era fan of the latter, I probably will be shunned in media circles where it's forbidden to admit you actually like sports, let alone teams, and especially teams you cover. But I said it. Sue me. Oops, sorry, this was supposed to be the short answer. Reason #275 why Jody struggles on Twitter.)
Long answer: See above for my high school sports allegiances (Go mighty Cougars!). As for pro sports, well, let's just say I was a bandwagon jumper as a kid. I'll admit it. I hopped on the Pittsburgh Steelers' bus more than two decades before the Jerome Bettis Bus did. Speaking of my beloved Bettis, I once met him at the Deseret News. Seriously. Shortly after he won the Super Bowl with the Steelers - one of six Super Bowl victories, I should most definitely point out - Bettis went on a promotion tour to raise awareness for something. Asthma, I think. His visit mostly raised my awareness that SUPER BOWL CHAMPION JEROME BETTIS WAS AT MY WORK!!! I was a fanboy and got my picture taken with him. Very cool dude. I joked with him about how he'd kissed his ring on TV after the XL victory and he fired back this classic line: "Don't tell my wife, but it was the best kiss of my life."
Considering I grew up in Salt Lake City, I was obligated to love two other pro teams: The NBA one that left New Orleans and nearly bolted for Las Vegas and Minnesota, and the baseball team that magically appeared daily on Ted Turner's network on this fancy new thing called cable TV. As an LDS kid from Utah I was obviously an Atlanta Braves' fan because of ... Glenn Hubbard, the pride and joy of Ogden's Ben Lomond High. OK, and Mr. Squeaky Clean/Deserving Hall of Famer/Greatest Hitter of the '80s (a.k.a. Dale Murphy).
How did you rationalize a love of sports into a potential career choice?
Short answer: I couldn't afford tickets (still can't) so I had to get a job that got me into sporting events for free.
Long answer: Despite popular opinion, drive-by shootings were not the only things we excelled at in Kearns. We have an awesome TV station at the high school and, even before I knew his dimples existed, I wanted to be The Next Craig Bolerjack. But the TV path didn't work out for me — but not because I have a face for radio or newspapers. I just brown-nosed the guys at the paper better than I did the ones at the TV station. And I like to write, which probably surprises you.
Once I figured out in college that I liked to write and that I didn't want to pursue a "Hamburger University" degree through McDonald's (yes, really), I jumped into the newspaper world. I had to become a sports writer. It combined three things I love and know well: sports, free food and not earning very much money. Seriously, though, getting paid to be immersed in sports all day is a great gig. Sure beats working for a living.
When did you first start thinking "yeah, I can do this professionally." (Like the standard question to NBA guys about when they first thought they were NBA caliber)
Short answer: As a freshman in college - and, yes, I was one of those famous 21-year-old Utah freshmen.
Long answer: When I was in the third or fourth grade - and this is a true story - my mom took me to some lady who measured my bones and how far apart my eyes were from each other and some other weird stuff to give insight into what skills I possessed and what career I'd be best suited to pursue. My most promising career choice? And cue the "Twilight Zone" music for the answer: A journalist. I know, WOW! Of course, that scientific evidence didn't prevent me from pursuing a fast-food career - free Big Macs were like sirens to my stomach - but eventually I was charged with doing a work newsletter, which I called "The McD Monthly," and soon I was taking J-school classes at SLCC. And, voila, a long-winded journalist's career, one already foreordained in the eternities, was set in motion.
Is the worst thing really the travel?
Short answer: This will be my first season as the traveling Jazz beat writer. I've been told I have no clue how nuts my life will be, so I'd probably shut my yapper until after the season when I can give an assessment of what consistent travel is like. (Plug alert: I plan on doing a series of blogs about a first-timer's adventures through the NBA, so bookmark deseretnews.com if you haven't already. Now.)
Long answer: Sports writers tell people the travel stinks because they're afraid their bosses will discover the truth and start going on trips for them. And that truth is: We get paid to go to really cool places and watch really cool sporting events! Then again, sometimes we get paid to go to places like Laramie and Hutchinson, Kansas, and Detroit (sorry, couldn't resist).
The travel can be a grind, though. Stop rolling your eyes! It can be. It's not fun waiting for airplanes and standing in lines for rental cars and eating lunch while gazing out at Venice Beach or chatting with John Stockton and Karl Malone at their Hall of Fame enshrinements. OK, those last parts are fun, but you catch my drift. Parts of it can really stink. Being away from your wife and kids can be challenging. Looking at the upcoming Jazz schedule and noticing that I have to book flights, hotels and cars, and then go from New Orleans to Milwaukee to Cleveland to Minnesota all within six days in the middle of December doesn't look real fun.
What do you beat writers do in the air: work or rest?
Short answer: Zzz.
Long answer: ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Yes, Diet Coke. Full can, please. Can I have an extra package of cookies? (Think to self: Cheap souvenirs for kids at home!) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Watch out for Part 2 of the mini-interview . . . here!