Back in 2004, the Boston Celtics were in in the midst of a rebuilding similar to today. I was in the midst of a run of a different kind. It was my 3rd year of owning and operating a successful fine dining restaurant. Anyone in the restaurant business would easily admit that time is very limited for anything other than serving guests and making sure your dining room is packed and staffed. I was no different. From 2001 thru 2007, I found it quite difficult to catch my favorite team play during national television broadcasts.
Being a fanatical Celtics diehard, I took to the internet to get my Celtics fix. This was in the days of dial up connections or very low speed broadband. Finding video coverage that didn't continually buffer was a challenge. Surfing for Celtics coverage became more frustrating than a server calling off on a busy Saturday night. I had all but given up on following my team with the vigor and obsessions of my youth when a customer, of all people, had mentioned a new way of getting information on sports. A reasonably new way of getting information on-demand had started to infiltrate the sports world. Blogging was a way of grabbing the info quickly. I had explained to my frequent diner that I was frustrated of surfing the internet and waiting for pages to load while strolling thru AOL (yes, AOL) for painstaking search queries that resulted in buffering videos or outdated forums. The diner replied, "Just search 'Celtics-Blog' and something should come up." That night, after scorching in a hot kitchen, I limped up to my office like Kevin McHale in 1987 (just 10 inches shorter). I booted up my computer and waited for it to "heat up." Sweat still dripping off my forehead, I went to AOL.COM and entered "Celtics-Blog" in the search field and clicked ENTER.
After a short period loading, a log of Celtics coverage formatted on to my screen. I was in heaven. Exactly what I had been trying to find for several years had just appeared on my monitor with one simple search query; "Celtics-Blog." - duh! (stop laughing, It wasn't considered a common sense search back then). In addition to getting a constant stream of Celtics information, I was shocked at just how professional this "weblog" was functioning. The articles screamed of reporters on site at the Fleet Center, an office with journalists clicking away at their word processors (what?) and a CEO that smoked cigars at a length that rivaled Red Auerbach.
Having worked closely with Jeff Clark 5 years later, I realized that my romantic vision of his glittery green lifestyle was just a figment of my imagination. Jeff is, by far, one of the hardest working individuals in the business today.
So, you're asking, how does this CelticsBlog love-fest have anything to do with today's Celtics Stuff Live reunion? Back to story.
In the not so distant future, I had found a foray of amateur fan sites pop up on the Celtics. Red's Army, Hardwood Houdini, Celtics Circuit, Celtics Town and a few others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. They were all good, some were amazing (Celtics Town, Celtics Circuit- Kudos Jay King and Greg Payne) and, of course CelticsBlog. These sites had subdued my cravings for on-demand Celtics coverage. None, however, had an element that was about to change my life. That is, except CelticsBlog.
Somewhere in the 2006 season, CelticsBlog had introduced me to a new technology called "internet broadcasting." Soon to be dubbed "Podcasting," the media had been struggling to gain traction in the sports journalism arena. Though videos were still buffering, these quick hit Celtics' audio recaps downloaded with ease. I started to tune in to hear "Jughead" give a recap of Celtics games in brief form. Then, suddenly on CelticsBlog, a full length broadcast version with the mysterious "Jughead" (now revealed to be Justin Poulin) at the helm named itself Celtics Stuff Live and started regular weekly broadcasts where the fans (yes, the fans) could participate via Skype and/or call in numbers. My 2-year battle to find the courage to call-in to the show began. NOTE: I thought that millions of people were listening to Poulin and his co-hosts as they broadcasted in the penthouse studio of the CelticsBlog New England headquarters.... how the internet can make the imagination go wild.
Anyway, for the next several years, I tuned in to every show, booting up my clunky computer and streaming the shows live. I heard my hero Mike Gorman being interviewed, people I admired such as Marc Spears, Sean Grande, Steve Bulpett, Kelly Dwyer, Scott Souza, Austin Ainge and a [very] young guy named Jimmy Toscano would even call in from the TD Garden locker rooms on game night. From time to time, you'd even hear from the CEO of CelticsBlog on Celtics Stuff Live.
As the years went on, the fun, fanatical, ranting continued. This show introduced me to Celtics' super Fan callers such as Mike "the Scotsman" Munger, Sam from San Diego, Mike "Maddog" Mitchell, Mike "Robbo" & Nate Robinson from Australia, the chat moderator, Thirsty Boots and Shirley "The Link Lady." Some of these veteran Celtics' fans still continue to participate in CLNS Radio broadcasts today.
Poulin's co-host, Jon Duke cracked me up as he'd rag on Bill Simmons, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant with regularity. Celtics Stuff Live was even where I found out about Osama Bin Laden being killed. You read that correctly, during a Celtics Post-Game Show, Jon Duke announced Bin Laden had been killed, on-air, as he saw it come over the Twitter wire- CSL put it on their airwaves before ANY of the 24-hour cable news networks reported it.
Many memories of greatness over the Celtics rise from mediocrity in the early/mid 2000's to downright pathetic in 2006 and back to championship glory from 2008 thru 2010 were shared with Celtics Stuff Live. Justin Poulin, Jon Duke, Jim "JB" Metz were all there to cover it and we diehard Celtics' fans were listening.
In 2008, Justin and Mike "The Scotsman" Munger even starred in a cult classic documentary, Return to the Rafters. NOTE: you hear Marc Spears refer to it in Sunday's interview.
In Celtics Nation, these guys were not just pioneers, they were celebrities. Before their was "yours truly" or Jared Weiss, Jay King, Chris Forsberg, Larry H. Russell or Zach Cox, there was Jeff Clark, Jon Duke and Jughead. Oh, if you don't believe me, just go to CelticsBlog and search "Justin Poulin" in their archives and 305 pages of posts show up.
I'm not going to bore you with how these Celtics' internet pioneers were instrumental in the birth of CLNS Radio nor how I have been privlidged enough to work with them over the years. Just take it from some one who knows, if you're a reasonably new fan to the team, you need to listen to Celtics Stuff Live. You need to listen to Sunday's episode (below) and hear it for yourself. You won't be sorry.
Founder | CEO - CLNS Radio
Celtics Beat featuring Celtics Stuff Live and Marc Spears
January 3, 2016