SBJ/April 9-15, 2012/People and Pop Culture

David Willey, Runner's World editor-in-chief

PROFESSIONAL

Willey is the “running reporter” for the ING New York City Marathon.
Photo by: CHARLIE WELLOCK
What I Like …


An insight: Print isn’t dead. I swear I was saying that four years ago, too. Business models and distribution platforms are evolving quickly and radically. But plenty of people still love and want to read magazines.

An influential person in my career: Charlie Hufford, a college friend and fellow Michigan Wolverine fanatic. He was killed in a car accident during our junior year, and speaking at his memorial taught me the emotional power of words. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but that’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Michigan Stadium
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
A sports facility: I like historic venues that have been modernized with care and an appreciation for what makes them unique. Places like Fenway Park, Michigan Stadium and Hayward Field.
 
A sports event: The Boston and New York City marathons. They’re unique in their own ways but both are a thrilling mix of sublime athletes (a 2:03 in Boston last year?!), huge, knowledgeable crowds, and citizen runners with their own goals and causes.

Jurgen Klinsmann
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
A hire: Jurgen Klinsmann as coach of the U.S. national soccer team. I respected Bob Bradley, and Klinsmann’s record has been mixed so far. But he’s taking his time to build something right, something he knows will last and set a new standard.

A trend: The continued and remarkable growth in road races in America, especially in the marathon (518,000 finishers last year, a 47 percent increase since 2000) and the half-marathon (1.6 million finishers last year, a 234 percent increase since 2000).
 
A fantasy job: Center field for the Red Sox.


DAVID WILLEY
Editor-in-chief, Runner's World
GM, Rodale Active Living Group

Where I'm from: I grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich. I live now with my wife and three kids in Bethlehem, Pa.

Where I Went to School: B.A. in political science from Williams College, master’s in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

My First Job: Paperboy, delivering The Grand Rapids Press every afternoon and very, very early on Sundays. I guess you could say something rubbed off.

What I Like About …

My job: Finding and telling great stories, and bringing new runners and cyclists into “the pack.” And getting to run or ride just about every day — and legitimately call it work.

Sports: They are pure and simple fun — but also so much more than that. They are a great way to bond with people, either as fans or teammates.  … And to paraphrase the late George Sheehan, sports are a way to see who you are. They provide a theater for heroism.

Competing: I still think of myself as an athlete, and will always want to. My only competitive outlets these days are road races. I love the butterflies I get at the starting line (which mean I’m about to do something worthwhile) and the endorphin-rich, empty-tank postrace exhilaration I feel the rest of the day. In between, I push myself — and my fellow runners push me — out of my comfort zone, something we all need in order to grow.

The future (or direction) of sports business: Fans will continue to get closer to the action, both virtually and literally. What if I could really “feel” what it’s like to chase down a fly ball in Fenway Park? (See “Fantasy Job” above).

Sports fans: Their insatiable desire to be amazed.


What I’d Like To …

Change: More people commuting by bicycle. Also, if universities and the NCAA make so much money from athletics, athletes should be paid something.
 
Boston Marathon
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
See different: Someone needs to figure out how to make distance running — especially marathons — more compelling on television. It’s been done with cycling and even yacht racing. It can be done for marathoning, too. There’s so much drama and athleticism and strategy, and so many great stories. But the stories aren’t being told and the races aren’t being covered in a way yet that will attract and keep a big audience.


What I Don’t Like …

Pet peeve: Constantly mistyping M and N on my iPhone.
 
In sports: LeBron-like narcissism.
 
In business: Dishonesty.


PERSONAL

What I Like …
 
That would surprise those who know me: Colleagues in the running industry probably wouldn’t guess that I played football in college (albeit Division III, and as my coach, Dick Farley, used to say, “There ain’t no Division IV.”) Also, I have never run with the bulls.

Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
About myself: That I am a dad.
 
Teams: The Red Sox and Michigan Wolverines.
 
Possession: My uncle Doug’s Hamilton wristwatch, which my aunt gave me after he died when I was young. I still wear it every day.

Music: Varies widely, but I grew up on Springsteen. I’ll also use this space to crow about radio (or, as it’s known today, audio). I grew up listening to Bob Ufer announcing Michigan football games and Ernie Harwell doing Tigers games, and I still love listening to baseball.
 
Books: Recently, I really liked the ESPN book, “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” and the novel “The Art of Fielding.” When my running starts to feel stale, I pick up “Once a Runner,” by John L. Parker Jr.
 
Authors: Dickens, Thomas McGuane, Richard Ford, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Price.
 
IPad app: I’m spending more and more time with Flipboard and the Atavist.
 
Movie: My favorite is “Diner,” which is tangentially about sports (the Alan Ameche question!).
 

Concert: The Springsteen show I’ve somehow never seen — yet.
 
Dessert: Chocolate cake.
 
Singer: My wife, Kira, who writes and records amazing kids’ music that parents love listening to, as well (no more Wiggles!).
 
Quote: “If we did all of the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” — Thomas Edison
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