Interview - Chris Yandek


Interview: Chris Yandek, Wrestling & Sports Journalist
(via e-mail 31st August 2002)

"Teenager Wrestles with Journalism"

Chris Yandek, accomplished Sports and Wrestling Journalist in the U.S, kindly granted Greg Tingle, NSW TAFE student, and Director of the Australian Sports and Entertainment Portal, (now Media Man Australia), this interview, as part of his TAFE assessment.

GT. Do you, or your interviews ever feel challenged when they find out your only 16, although very experienced and talented?

CY. (Laughs) "I do all my interviews via phone, and usually everyone thinks I am in my 20s. Most of the time I never tell them my age, and I really don't make a friendship with most of the people I talk to. In wrestling the wrestlers believe if you have the outlets behind you, and your gonna tell me straight up front what you want then I will be more then happy to do it. I have only do one interview in person all time."

GT. How did you get involved in the wrestling and journalism business?

CY. "Back in October of 2000 there was the first network ever of pre recorded audio shows, and I started up my own little wrestling show. I sent out e-mails to almost every wrestling personality. I got a reply from Sharmell Sullivan's agent, and said she would do the show. On October 26th 2000, I interviewed Sharmell Sullivan when she was Paisley currently in WCW. I basically learned the contact system from there, and I decided to take it to journalism outlets like the Miami Herald, and later 1wrestling.com and the St. Petersburg Times Wrestling Section. I have basically just researched, and I have found so many contacts over the year. I am only 23 months in, and I certainly earned it all by giving up a total social life."

GT. What's are your biggest successes to date?

CY. "There truly isn't one big success that separates others. I think my interview Rey, Jr. (wrestler) before him going to the WWE giving his thoughts on the business, and that he was in negotiations with the WWE is worth something. It was his 4th interview ever, and he isn't one of the easiest guys to get for an interview. I also of course think of my tracking down story of Jake Roberts (wrestler) from when he left the USA to the UK where he now resides, and finding a personal friend of his agent's that actually had a contact to them which was a success story in itself. I also think about my very in-depth 15 minute interview with Trish Stratus (sports model and wrestler) on Thanks Giving Day of 2001, and the WWE does all their interviews on Thursday's, and even though she doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving because she is Canadian it sure was worth the time. There are not many interviews with Trish where she gives the thoughts on the business that in-depth. I also think about the new radio show on the Pal Talk Radio Network, but I am just getting to enjoy that. That is a few of my success, but I don't have one again that stands out from the rest."

GT. Who would you like to interview, that you haven't yet?

CY. "I have been trying to get Ric Flair (wrestler) through the WWE, but honestly after their media ban a little while ago it has been tough to get someone for a story. Also Bret Hart's (wrestler and actor) people said they would give me one since I did some publicity for him in the past. There are others for sure, but those are the ones I really want at the moment."

GT. Are your interviews face to face, telephone, e-mail, other form, or a combination?

CY. "As I say this again all interviews are recorded via telephone. E-mail interviews I don't believe are true interviews, and half the wrestlers in the industry are not big computer people to start with. It is good to have a good technology studio of sorts on my computer to record the interviews, and basically go back and transcribe. I also give the fans the option of listening, but more people want to skim then listen to 20 minutes."

GT. How would you describe your interview style?

CY. "I describe my interview style as not afraid to ask anything. The people in the industry like people who don't ask Bs mark questions. Like for instance what is your favorite food? I honestly think that doesn't matter. People want to hear about the scandals, drugs, ups and downs of the business, way they were treated, and so fourth. That is what makes an interview not holding anything back. That is one reason people like Barbra Walters (journalist) are so respected because they hold nothing back, and they have the outlets to get the important stories."

GT. What is the most difficult situation you have ever been in?

CY. "There truly really aren't many. I just think of it this way if you want a good outlet for the story then great, and if you don't oh well. The interviews it times can take months to get done, but that's all part of the patience period."

GT. What is the biggest non-wresting scoop interview you have done?

CY. "I interviewed 1998 Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medallist Tara Lipinski in a very in-depth interview a few weeks ago. She is truly an amazing person."

GT. Name all of the other sports people and celebrities you have interviewed?

CY: "They are all listed on my website www.neweraofwrestling on the superstars interviewed page." (Dr. Robert Durant, Kristen (actor in "Murder in small town X"), Gary Capetta (ring announcer and author of "BodySlams"), "Iron Sheik" (1972 Olympian and bodyguard for the Iran Government), and George Anderson (journalist).

GT. Was Jake Roberts even more "out-there" than he gives the impression of, or is that impossible? : )

CY. "Jake Roberts is not the easiest person to understand, but he does understand that I tell him straight up front what I want, and if everything goes by him then he is truly happy to do it. You just have to understand it takes time to earn his trust, and I was truly the first person that has covered Jake Roberts like I have, and tried to put him out there as positive as possible. He is just like everyone else who makes mistakes, and you can't criticize him on that one because he still is one of the greatest ever, and he always will be. It took 8 months from the time he moved to the UK before he said ok I will do the interview with you, and ever since we have done 3 others."

GT. Have you ever been interviewed before in any way, especially via Internet / e-mail? Please elaborate.

CY. "I have done many radio show interviews, and Internet interviews for sure yes."

GT. When your not running websites, and doing interviews, what other things do you do? Hobbies etc?

CY. "Well, I have school of course. I do the sports segment for the TV morning announcements program to 3600 kid's everyday. I have also won 3 district awards for film pieces down here in Miami, Florida. I am also a teen relationships counselor, and am a published love poet. I won the dedication to peace award at my school last year. I also try to be a role model for girls as I feel they deserve all the respect and compliments in the world, and it is just sad what some of these teenage girls go through in High School. I am also in the conflict resolution program at my school, and was Historian last year. I basically watch a lot of sports and that is about it. I have good morals, and am proud to be a virgin for sure. I am waiting for real love and a commitment from an amazing girl of course, and one day later that will come. I also respond to many e-mails from fans as well, and chat with them. I am the most open journalist you will find that will talk to anyone in the world of wrestling."

GT. What film pieces did you work on in Miami?

CY. "I have worked in my TV Production classes for 6 years now. I really have never done any movies, but I would be up to it. I do the sports segment for my TV school morning show, but that is about it."

GT. What kind of conflicts have you assisted, in your role with the Conflict Resolution Program?

CY. "I have helped kids stay out of fights, away from drugs, and helped people boost their esteem. I love to be a role model for girls, and show them that there really is a such thing as prince charming, and don't take any shit from any jerk who wants to rape you or any of them. I always tell people to think for themselves."

GT. What is your favorite love poem? Please forward me a few examples. (Our Teacher and the female students are very much looking forward to these). It will also help me achieve a higher pass.

CY. "I have attached the love poetry via attachment word document. Just download the file. Tell your female classmates that they are sweet and beautiful people for wanting to read my love poetry. I feel honored for sure."

GT. Who do you look up to from a historical and sports journalism perspective?

CY. "I look up to Barbara Walters very much. Howard Cossel was one of the greatest sports journalists ever, and I think he knew how to be a friend with the sports personality, but as well an interviewer in the process with the likes of Muhammad Ali."

GT. Explain the process where the wrestlers become friends with you, rather than just contacts?

CY. "When I interview someone or call and leave a message I am very professional, but at the same time I treat the guest as a normal person. Honestly a lot of the wrestlers, and people read my work. I usually try to make regular conversation, and I can usually relate to the guest about the business itself. The stars who love the media or like to do it I usually keep in contact with, and on some occasions they let me into their lives or at least I can always count on them."

GT. Would any future book deal, ever possibly alter your "no holds barred" and open and honest approach to journalism?

CY. "I have always thought about writing a book like A Teen Two Years in Sports Entertainment or something like that, but honestly I just don't have the time right now. I know one day soon I will share my life story, and I would love to talk about the wrestling media for sure as well. I know sooner or later it will happen."

GT. What are your medium and long-term goals in journalism?

CY. "My long term goal is to use my career in entertainment journalism to be a role model for young kids and teens alike. My long-term goal is to be somewhere on TV investigating and getting the exclusive interviews and stories. I plan to go to broadcasting school as well after High School."

GT. What other information can you tell me about yourself this will likely impress me, our TAFE teacher and class?

CY. "(Laughs) Honestly I am a teachers pet, and I enjoy honestly hanging with the adults, and people in the wrestling industry. I am usually around adults honestly, and it is great to be friends with the likes of Jake Roberts, Kamala, Trish Stratus, (all 3 names mentioned are wrestlers) and so many others. I also signed Kamala's book deal to look at the story of the way he was discriminated in the world of wrestling as well. I am just proud to have earned all my success, and I didn't get a hook up like some of those kids on that WWE Tough Enough show, which total Bs in my opinion. I honestly never took a journalism class, and I learned everything myself on how to get a story. When I look at my school paper I laugh at times, and honestly I just wish more had the motivation like me." You can check out all my stuff at www.neweraofwresting.com and www.weblinkradio.com/wrestling, and feel free to e-mail me at Lyandek@aol.com as I do respond to every e-mail.

...end.

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