Brian McGonagle, a.k.a Rear Admiral/R.A., one of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast host and founders, is the guest on the latest episode of the RinkWise podcast.
Born and raised in Charlestown, Mass., as an avid hockey and Boston Bruins fan, R.A. tells his story about his passion for the game, influences and plans to pursue journalism at the wrong time. After an opportunity to cover the Bruins for Barstool Sports more than a decade ago presented itself, he was able to witness the team’s run to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship. This eventually allowed him to cross paths with NHL defenseman Ryan Whitney, and opened the door for hockey’s most popular podcast.
He joins Kirk Luedeke and guest host Matt Keator to talk about his background, the Bruins, how Spittin’ Chiclets evolved, growing the game of hockey and some of his favorite celebrity encounters over the years.
From the podcast:
On growing up in Charlestown looking up to local hockey players who paved the way for a new generation of Boston-area NHLers:
Yeah, it’s quintessential Boston. Huge hockey history there. There’s been so many good players and there are so many guys back in the ’70s, even into the ’80s. I think that, obviously the history of Boston, the way things played out with schools and started in the ’70s, there was a lot of guys who probably got screwed out of maybe having, if not pro careers, maybe it was going to college. And there was, I think, a whole generation of guys who kind of got screwed out of maybe having the opportunities they probably should have. But, you know, guys have just persevered. There’s so many kids I grew up with that were outstanding hockey players. Me, I couldn’t skate worth a lick. That’s how I became a street hockey goalie. My brother and his friends would just throw me out there.
On growing up in Charlestown watching Jim Vesey, Sr. and getting to know him off the ice:
When we were 10 or 12 years old, Jim, he was the local hero. He was an 18-year-old senior playing at Christopher Columbus High. Everybody in town wanted to be him. I’ve gotten to know Jim the last 20 years very well, actually went to the 2010 Stanley Cup together in Chicago. We did a little road trip. He’s been great for the game. He was a hero to our generation and now all these young kids in town have (Matt) Grzelcyk to look up to… I mentioned all these kids kind of had to grow up outside of the town. It was nice to have Grizzy not have to leave town and still go pro. I think that was that was nice for a lot of people there because, like Jim’s son, for example, Tommy Fitzgerald’s boys, because they all kind of grew up in the suburbs and they’ve gone pro. So the fact that Grizzly didn’t have to leave Charlestown and went pro, I think that was a feather in the cap.
On what it takes to do a podcast and produce one episode of Spittin’ Chiclets:
Just starting off the equipment is actually very simple. I mean, it’s just basically a microphone, a camera. I mean, most laptops already have a camera built in now and just a few extra wires. And then you’re off and running. It’s really easy to start. But as for us where we are now, I mean, I’m more because the bus driver. I do a lot of the prep, the research. I write out the outline for how the show is going to go. And it’s basically you just get all the stories from the week and you kind of just put the puzzle together. Almost like building a newscast almost or a newspaper (article). What stories are the top ones? Which are the, maybe, fun stories you put down below? And yeah, we build the outline. I send it out to the guys. We kind of edit it during the week and then we just rock and roll. Nothing’s pre-scripted. We just roll off the cuff. And yeah, it’s actually pretty simple.