With the end of the 2014-2015 Fredonia Men’s Ice Hockey Season, it’s only appropriate that we end the season with a recap. Chris Hoyt, our Sports Director, took the lead with both Men and Women’s Basketball broadcasts, and all of the Hockey games this season. The goaltender coach for the hockey team, John Cullen, became our MVP after Jerry Reilly put us in contact with him. His knowledge and charisma for the sport is shown through the way he calls the plays. John really knows the players, while working with them on the ice and the watching them play you can really feel the respect he has for them. The hockey team finished out the season with 4-16-5 overall. It wasn’t the best season for them, but it certainly was an interesting one.
Mic check, one, two. Mic check, one, two.
I sat down with John after the season, and asked him a few questions.
John is one of those people who can always put a smile on your face. His professionalism and excitement for life are contagious.
I got to learn more about him when I asked about how he got into radio and broadcasting.
For those of you that don’t know, John Cullen was in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for four years, moving around Canada from Niagara to Kingston then to Sarnia and ending with Windsor. While living in the multiple cities, he attended 3 Universities through the OHL and got to take classes in a wide array of areas, learning about topics such as philosophy and neuroscience among other things.
His first experience with radio happened his rookie year playing for Niagara, on Z101 with Corey Mottley, who would later become a good friend of his. Corey was playing music for the games and brought John on air to talk about the trade to Kingston and made the joke about what song they will play when people score on him, which he answered back, lazy fingers because the song wouldn’t play at all.
In Kingston, they needed someone once a week for five minutes to talk about hockey on 96.3 FM and, since he was in his rookie year and his teammates knew about his experience in Niagara, they volunteered him to do it.
It was love at first talk. They hit it off and asked him to do a show that incorporated hockey, as well as known conspiracies, later called “Cully’s Conspiracies” because he went on rants about things he would read about, like the swine flu, corruption in government, elections, U.S. foreign policy, the Bilderberg Group (which I encourage you to look up, it is fascinating stuff!) and the bank systems. His show aired from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. He loved the opportunity to talk about being American, and American government in Canada.
“Listener Discretion Advised. CKFM 96.3 and The Matt&Ange Show do not endorse or agree with anything said on Cully’s Conspiracies. Please keep in mind throughout the duration of this show this young man is a Buffalo Bills fan, and he willingly gets vulcanized rubber shot at his head at upwards of a 100 miles per hour by future NHLPlayers. Thank you.”- The beginning of Cully’s Conspiracies.
Like being a Buffalo Bills Fan is a bad thing….
But eventually, “Cully’s Conspiracies” had to end because he was traded.
Four years into his career he blew out his knee leading to knee surgery, playing in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) for the L.A. Kings Farm Team the Ontario Reign. Heading back home to Hamburg, New York, he would later be asked to help be part of Windsor Spitfire Broadcasts for both radio and T.V., which improved his skills for play-by-play, within those games, and gave him hope for the future.
You might ask how John got to Fredonia.
Well, Coach Meredith offered him a position as the Goaltender Coach, which he took and has been with the team for two seasons. There are a lot of things he is still figuring out with his career and life, but he is interested in journalism, coaching, as well as radio and T.V. broadcasting.
When asked what advice he would give to people interested in broadcasting, John said his checklist for success would include five things. One: be prepared. If you aren’t prepared you are already losing. Two: be confident. Three: be yourself it will make things a lot easier. Four: when you are talking to someone else, especially your partner on the air, be natural and don’t feel pressure to force things in, it will make things sound more natural. Five: it’s okay to make mistakes; you are getting better with every broadcast.
He also says, “Look at an idol and see what they do. If it is someone you look up to and want to become like them in the future, looking at how they handle situations is a great way to learn.” Two of his influential idols are his father and Sunaya Sapurji. In the article listed below, John goes into more detail about who is father is, and his overall love and respect for him. I couldn’t do justice by talking about it here with the way he explains it, so I encourage you to read the article. Sunaya Sapurji, an editor for Yahoo Sports, helped to encourage and motivate John to tell his story and provided him with his first chance to write a story and a way to look at writing and journalism in a new light. Both of these people are just one of many that have shaped his life in some way or form over the years.
You might be wondering what station John would have his dial on, WDVL 89.5 or WCVF 88.9 FM. After much discussion about music we came to the conclusion that he would be both. He says, “I like everything, I have a different song for when I’m driving, to when I’m getting ready for a game, or just hanging out with friends”.
As the interview came to a close, I asked him what his favorite spot in the area was, he said, “The Ice Rink”, but is that any surprise? John immerses himself in hockey. It’s what he loves. You can tell it from the way he talks; his excitement and passion is expressed through his words and stories about his amazing past and his still bright future.
It’s been an absolute pleasure working with him this semester, and I hope to be able to continue working with him in the future.
Thank you John.