Ken Wiebe and Sean Reynolds were already thoroughly enjoying what they love to do which is reporting on and writing about the Winnipeg Jets.
So why not do more?
Just over two years ago the Sportsnet colleagues, who grew up in Altona and Lac du Bonnet respectively, decided to add an extra hour, or so, to their Jets game-day lives by creating, and launching, the Kenny & Renny Show that's available wherever you get your favourite podcasts.
It's been an entertaining ride for Wiebe, Reynolds and their listeners.
"With the loss of 1290 radio with Bell's decision, there was a bit of a gap in the market place," noted Wiebe, "Call-in shows didn't become as prevelent. It was a great way, we found, for the fan base to interact with us. I think the premise was always - Sean and I are sitting at a table, there's an open chair, why don't you take a seat at the table, and lets talk about what you saw or the bigger picture about the game. It was really a great opportunity to connect with a fan base that felt, maybe, there was something missing after the radio station decided to change formats. We both love hockey, and we both played senior hockey in Manitoba. Some of those best times are what's being talked about after the games are played, and this was a great way to connect with the fan base in that regard."
There's a lot happening on game day starting with the Jets morning skate, but it's go-time when the final seconds tick down to zero.
"After the game we go down to do the interviews with the players and the coaches, and there's probably a 45-minute period where I'm writing," said Wiebe. "It also gives you time to digest your thoughts. We're lucky in the market place, the good folks at the Illegal Curve, they do the immediate after show, and there's other options available. By the time we get up, it's usually about an hour or so after the game. It's a chance to shoot the breeze, and weigh in with your thoughts for about an hour. The passion level is pretty high, whether it's going well or poorly for the Jets. We know there's a passionate fan base, and there's never a shortage of things to talk about, especially in a year like this where the Jets had such a great start, and now they're in the middle of a playoff battle."
Wiebe was asked if there was a game this season, when the Kenny & Renny Show was over...they looked at each other and said, 'Wow, that was so much fun.'"
"We were both in New York for the Rangers game recently. It's such a historic building, and then you see Connor Hellebuyck go out and make 50 saves in Madison Square Garden. That was probably one of the highlights, just in terms of the atmosphere. I still get chills everytime I walk into an NHL rink. You wanted to be on that ice, but to be able to cover the league, it's a real treat. That's the beauty of our jobs. When you're passionate about what you do, it doesn't feel like work. I still feel a great deal of pride everytime I walk into a rink, because of the path I took to get there."
"It's neat to see how it's grown," added Wiebe. "We're not the most technically savvy guys, and we know it's a different world with YouTube and podcasts and everything else. It's just a great place to show your personality a little bit. It's even more so for Sean. He's in a hosting role with Sportsnet, so he doesn't get to analyze the games. You're doing the interviews, and not giving a lot of analysis. That's always been the beauty of radio. I love writing, but the medium of radio, it allows you to kind of be a little bit more expansive, and to drill in the details. Where in a newspaper article, or an online article, you only have, lets say 600 or 700 words. Here you have kind of an open forum. You can talk for as long as the subject needs to be discussed, and you can dig into a lot of things that maybe don't get into the regular story or game discussion. It's been a real treat, and we're excited about the growth, and we're excited about where it can be going in the future."
Wiebe, who played four seasons with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Winkler Flyers, enrolled at the University of Regina.
It was the first step in his outstanding journalism career.
"I was super lucky," recalled Wiebe. "I had a chance to go and play university hockey there, but I also was going there primarily for the journalism. I was lucky the coaching staff looked for a place where I could follow my secondary passion, knowing that, by that I age, I knew I wasn't going to the NHL, at least as a hockey player, anymore. They had a great work experience program. To be honest, it was something that was still close enough, but far enough away. You could still get home on the weekend if you weren't playing. Six hour drive is a little bit different than maybe going down south to play somewhere. I knew the program was great, so that was a great fit on both fronts. It allowed me to continue to play hockey for two more years, but also start setting my sights on life after hockey as well."
Wiebe graduated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2000.
"It was awesome. Now you know what your next role and your dreams are. Fortunately I had a full-time job, basically, coming out of university, which is always a little bit of a stressful time for a student. I got to go back to the Winnipeg Free Press for a three-month term, and then got on at the Sun. Small world, Judy Owen went on maternity leave, and it was a second child for her, so it was unlikely she was going to be going back full-time to the travel and the grind. It's a proud moment. I wasn't someone who was sure that I was going to go to university right away, but after taking two years to figure out what I wanted to do, I found that path, and it's a really neat way to get the piece of paper, but knowing that the real work was ahead. "
That real work involved a decade covering the AHL's Manitoba Moose and post-game interviews with head coach Randy Carlyle.
"The beauty of the American Hockey League, it allows you to make some mistakes, and learn on the job training," said Wiebe. "We always talk about players having to get to the next level, and it's the same for people in the media. Fortunately, I would say, there were a lot of times where now a days, every interview is on tape, and you can make a slight error in judgement. For me, dealing with Randy, was a very liberating experience, because he could be tough, especially on young journalists, but it helped make me be a better writer, and a better reporter, and I cherish those times. All of the bus rides. Everybody thinks of the NHL, and its charter planes and five-star hotels. You know, three-in-three's and seven-hour bus rides in between games, it was a good character builder from a writing department as well, and the hockey was great. During the lock-out, I always think of the new building, and a sold-out crowd, and also the opportunity to cover a Calder Cup championship with the Moose and Hershey Bears was also a great thing for me. As was last year when I got to cover the Stanley Cup. I covered the American League at the highest level, so it kind of helps prepare you for that next step you want to take."
The Atlanta Thrashers left Georgia in May 2011 and relocated to Winnipeg.
The Jets were back.
"It was always the dream to cover the NHL, and I was close for a few jobs in other markets, but those things didn't pan out," said Wiebe. "But then, sure enough, there's Mark Chipman standing at the podium after a couple of years where there were maybe some rumblings that it could happen. To be able to cover an NHL team you grew up watching, even though they went away for that time, was a real big thrill. The fact you didn't have to move, you could stay close to friends and family, the fact it was a team that you grew up watching makes it even more special."
You can join Ken Wiebe and Sean Reynolds tonight (March 16th), after the Jets home game against the Boston Bruins. Find the Kenny & Renny Show by clicking here.
Listen to Clayton Dreger's one-on-one interview with Ken Wiebe, below.