A documentary film by Alek LaShomb
Article and photos by Alek LaShomb
Throughout human history, mythology has tried to make sense of the world we inhabit. From Norse, Greek, Egyptian and even the modern-day comic book, mythology has sought to tell stories that revolve around the human experience. Those who have been tasked with distributing such marvelous tales understand the importance, especially when times are dire.
COVID-19 has put the planet on high alert, threatening the way of life in almost every country.
In the United States, the deadly infectious villain has forced Americans indoors, sheltering away from the chaos outside. The last bastion of civilization exists somewhere no one had anticipated: the local comic shop.
Driving through downtown Winona, one may focus their gaze upon the 19th century western-style buildings. Sandwiched between these outlaw-era structures resides Jimmy Jams, the local superhero headquarters.
Jim McCauley is the owner and gatekeeper of the Jimmy Jams sanctum.
In the early 1990’s, McCauley had graduated from college with a major in psychology and was hoping to obtain his master’s degree in businesses administration. Life, however, had different plans for this protagonist.
McCauley was introduced to comics at a young age. His mother used to bring him to bookstores that had boxes full of back issue comics. McCauley remembers his mom saying, “find 50 you want to keep, and I’ll buy them.” McCauley then discovered his love for reading books and comics.
However, McCauley explained his love for comics wavered throughout the years until he stumbled upon a DC-hero named the Sandman. DC, a major comic book publisher, includes the likes of Batman and Superman, but McCauley was enthralled with Sandman. The Sandman was a character from the 1940’s that was revived during the later half of the 20th century under DC’s more graphic brand, Vertigo. McCauley purchased volume 2 of The Sandman, which reignited his love for comics.
The Sandman was the catalyst that spurred Jimmy Jams, McCauley explained.
On November 4, 1994, McCauley opened Jimmy Jams, sacrificing his education to pursue his passion.
Inside Jimmy Jams is a plethora of pop culture. Upon entry of the store, one will notice a row of comics and graphic novels on the right wall. Starting from the far-left side, new editions are stacked on top of each other, with every issue competing to get a customer’s attention with its title hanging overhead. Towards the end of the wall by a door resides “must read” graphic novels, sourced from some of the greatest works ever written, such as X-Men: Days of Future Past.
A walk through the rest of the store reveals a back catalog of graphic novels, DVD’s, videos, board games and card games. The atmosphere of the store is that of a well-knit neighborhood, where interactions are wholesome and warm.
A woman stands alert behind the counter. Her excitement is expressed through a cheerful tone that transcends the face mask she’s wearing as she greets guests. Heather Betthauser has been the manager of Jimmy Jams for five years. Betthauser has been a comic buff her whole life, recalling early childhood memories when her dad used to bring home Batman comics.
During the pandemic, Betthauser has been on the frontlines, trying to provide a sense of normalcy for her customers during volatile times. To Betthauser, the comic shop embodies more than just another business – it’s a pillar of the community.
Jimmy Jams functions as a recreational outlet for Winona’s community, Betthauser said.
Tables situated in the back of Jimmy Jams normally welcome Magic players, a popular card game in the community. For these players, Jimmy Jams is a safe haven that allows them to commune.
COVID, however, has limited the ability for the Magic community to gather, with Jimmy Jams imposing guidelines that restrict the number of games and players in order to better protect against the unseen enemy. Betthauser says Magic players have adapted to the conditions, gathering safely for the love of the game.
While club interactions are a staple of the store, Jimmy Jams also operates as an educational component for kids learning how to read, Betthauser said.
Some kids have gravitated towards the mythical fortress to read comic books. Betthauser explained that comic books, and trading cards, trick kids into learning. Some parents have told Betthauser that their kids are unwilling to read unless it’s the newest issue of their favorite superhero.
The biggest part of the comic experience is the physical aspect. It begins with simple browsing, a process that takes some almost an hour. Then, once interest is piqued with a certain title, the reader scurries away to a corner, or sometimes the floor, to indulge in the most recent adventure. Readers carefully skim through the issue, trying to track down the epic climax to the story’s arc. The comic feels like a fresh Time magazine, with every page and seam crisp enough to easily cause a papercut. A mixture of fresh ink and paper collide to give the issue a distinct smell. Visually, the art jumps out, pulling the reader into the phantasmal story line. Text bubbles scream between your ears as you can hear every exclamation and punch.
Now, COVID has threatened this fantasy laden community. During the onset of the pandemic in the United States, Jimmy Jams was forced to close for the month of April, Betthauser said.
During the closure, comic publications were also halted, causing concern for readers worldwide. The comic industry, like Jimmy Jams, resisted the advances of the villainous virus, resuming print shortly after April. While supply is more limited than usual, Betthauser says that comics and board games have been the hot buy since their reopening.
What was feared as a death nail to the comic book industry has become a resurgence for the world’s strongest heroes.
“Anything that could be considered “collectable” has prices driven through the roof,” Betthauser said. “My guess is that people are trying to collect a piece from their childhood, which is driving people back to print comics. Having a physical copy of a comic or game brings back that nostalgia.”
Betthauser admitted that the pandemic has changed the shop’s experience. In the beginning, Betthauser said wearing masks was a change which led to an adjustment period as Winona adopted social distancing measures. Betthauser said they ask that people not touch everything, but that “if you’re interested in it, you have to see it.”
In the back of the store, Henry Leckenby is sorting through Magic trading cards.
Leckenby is a part time employee at Jimmy Jams and is also an elementary educator in Winona, Minnesota, and Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Leckenby has been visiting the store for 15 years, calling it one of his favorite places.
Leckenby was first drawn to comics when he was seven years old. His first comic experience was with Avengers issue 157, which was published on March 1, 1977 and featured a showdown between the Black Knight and the Avengers.
Leckenby, like Betthauser, believes in the community spirit that surrounds Jimmy Jams.
“It’s nice to be in an environment where the good guys can win,” Leckenby said.
From the street, Jimmy Jams may appear to be another store in a sea of small business eye candy. A closer look, however, reveals more than what meets the eye, a statement Optimus Prime would agree with.
Inside resides some of humanities highest ideals, packed into a 20-something page rollercoaster. Jimmy Jams is a store that cultivates learning, hoping to inspire the next curious customer to follow their passion despite the odds, like McCauley did in 1994.
The Winona County Historical Society held a week-long event to celebrate Valentine’s Day by showing its love of Winona’s local history.
The event included free admission to see WCHS exhibits all week, games at the center including artifact bingo and a heart scavenger hunt, plus kits to take home and make vintage Valentine’s Day cards.
Carrie Johnson, WCHS executive director, said in the past the center offered behind-the-scenes tours, crafts for children, treats, and music.
Due to COVID-19 limitations, the event had to be changed to follow safety guidelines.
“The event was a modification to what has been previously held,” Johnson said. “Traditionally we hold a Valentine’s Day weekend open house with free admission on a larger scale.”
Johnson said WCHS still wanted to hold the event since it gave people something to do and possibly bring new visitors to the center.
“The event helps increase our visibility to people who might not normally come in,” Johnson said. “Offering things to the public makes you relevant and it would be a shame to keep all this history locked up in a vault.”
Jennifer Weaver, WCHS’s museum educator, said attendance for the event was good with several hundred people showing up throughout the week.
“Typically, we see anywhere from 300 to 600 people come for the open house day,” Weaver said. “I definitely think we reached that number throughout the week.”
Weaver also said the exhibits on display were special to the staff since they all picked some favorite artifacts from the vault to showcase.
A couple from Winona State University, Rickey Marshally and Sulaiman Bada visited the WCHS and explored the exhibits.
“My roommate told me about the event,” Marshally said. “As an international student, I’m always looking to learn more about Winona and Minnesota.”
Marshally said she brought Bada along so she would have company and a ride.
Bada admitted he did not know a museum actually existed in town but was glad to know about it and visit.
“My favorite exhibit would have to be up at the top with the Native American equipment and the dolls,” Bada said. “I would also say the different fire equipment and carts since the firefighters actually had to pull those huge things on their own.”
The couple said it took them about an hour and a half to explore both floors of the museum, and along the way, they searched for hidden hearts that were part of the seasonal promotion.
“My favorite exhibit would have to be the pharmacy and the bank,” Marshally said. “They were small sets where you could actually see what the inside really looked like.”
The couple said they had fun and would go back next year if things are safe again.
“Hopefully, by next February we’ll mostly be vaccinated, and it will be safer to do the event in person again,” Weaver said.
For decades America has had a problem with mass incarceration.
The Winona County jail is dealing with multiple violations which is why the community is pushing to build a new one.
Chris Meyer the District One Commissioner for Winona County is in favor of building a new jail.
Meyer said, “the jail was condemned, and we’re replacing it.
She also said the current jail, “it is simply not safe for anyone, not for the community, not the individuals arrested and certainly not our jail staff”.
Meyer also said the jail has failed state inspections due to narrow doorways, no sprinkler systems, only one intake stall, pod structure and other safety and health concerns.
When comparing Winona County’s current jail and the plan for the new jail, especially in concerns with COVID-19, Meyer said, “It will have a negative airflow system, and it will also have the ability to separate folks in a way that is simply not possible now.”
A local coalition Community not Cages opposes the new jail.
Tova Strange, a member of Community not Cages, and Winona State University student, said the group is composed of current and past Winona residents who disagree with the jail expansion.
Strange, is a lifelong Winona resident which is why this issue is important to her.
She joined the group because she is anti-incarceration and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
When she heard about the new jail in Winona, she disagreed with it.
Strange said, “the idea of expanding a jail to 80-90 beds, and possibly adding a juvenile detention center really frightened me and frustrated me”.
Kara Eggers, a fellow WSU student and member of Community not Cages, said Winona County should redistribute funds for a new jail or juvenile facility to other causes.
“I think, putting finances and resources into preventative methods, helping people actually get into the doctor in a timely manner,” Eggers said.
Strange, said she is continuously seeing the same individuals in and out of jail for drug addiction.
“The solution to addiction is providing rehab facilities locally that are accessible and cheap enough for people to go and good enough that it works,” Strange said.
Chris Meyer said that delaying the new jail is not possible but if they had come to the community board sooner, Community not Cages could’ve been involved in the discussion about the new jail.
Meyer said she disagrees with Community not Cages on the new jail she said the “truth of the matter is I actually share many of their concerns”.
With a return to work looming for many new pet owners, the Winona Area Humane Society is doing everything they can to ensure newly adopted pets get to stay in their forever homes including support for pet owners such as free kennels, food, treats and other pet supplies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down many facets of people’s everyday lives, people searched for something to fill their free time. For some it was day trading, for others it was trying to bake the best loaf of sourdough, and for others it was adopting a pet.
Humane Society Facilities Manager Susie Marshall said, “We had up to twelve dogs at once when we typically have five.”
“They all come in from Arkansas or Texas since Winona doesn’t have a stray problem.”
Marshall said in her ten years of experience it was extremely rare to house more than five dogs. The WAHS typically houses 50 cats at any given time, and saw that number drop as low as 19 during the peak of their pandemic adoption boom in summer of 2020.
“We previously were going to the Walmart distribution center in Tomah every quarter to six months to stock up on food for our animals, now we go every two months.” Marshall added.
The WAHS is offering free food, treats, leashes, cat litter and litter boxes to any owner who needs it and will give enough to stock for the entire winter, assuming they have the stock on hand. They offer contact-free pickup and will load a cart of whatever amenities are needed and will try to keep the same brand across all items, just call in advance and leave a voicemail.
Marshall predicts an influx of returned pets when normalcy returns. “I see people return dogs even when they are home,” Marshall said. “People aren’t as disciplined as they need to be kennel training, because ‘he looks so sad’ but then they come home to destroyed furniture.”
Some ways for owners to help the transitions for their pet is to not get to work super early, and conversely, coming straight home after, and if possible, during lunch.
Marshall said she swears by the phrase, “a tired dog is a good dog, a rested dog misbehaves” and walks her own dog for three miles every day regardless of the weather.
Winona State alumna Pam Leber, who now resides in Palatine, Illinois, with her husband, Mark, and daughter, Michala, adopted a dog during the pandemic after many phone calls, e-mails and google searches.
Michala, who recently graduated from DePaul University, was adamant having a dog would help with her anxiety, especially during quarantine.
“Michala had been asking since third grade, she did a presentation for us, but my husband didn’t want a dog because he’s allergic, so the dog needed to be hypoallergenic and it’s a lot of work and responsibility.” Pam Leber said. “But he really began to see being home during the pandemic how it affected her, and he started to get soft.”
It didn’t take much more convincing before the family drove to an Amish farm near LaPorte, Indiana, to look at a litter of five puppies, and after a short getting-to-know-you period with the dogs, one that had lurked in the back worked his way to Michala’s side, emblazoned with the name tag “Rebel.”
“Our last name spelled backwards; we took that as a sign” Pam Leber said.
With Michala still searching for post-graduation employment, the costs of supplies for newly renamed Bentley are split between her and her parents, who were fortunate enough to receive a hand-me-down cage and bed from a family friend.
A run to the pet store can sometimes cost more than $100. Pam Leber said she recognizes how hard the situation can become.
“We got a dog when I was 13 and we had to give it back because we were too scared at the time, now looking back, that would be heartbreaking,” Pam Leber said. “You’ve given this dog a warm place and a loving home, do you want to give that up? Do you have a friend or family member it can stay with?”
Susie Marshall is a former dog trainer and willing to answer all questions as well as share training tips via her email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Winona Area Humane Society can be reached via voicemail at 507-452-3135.
With COVID-19 putting a strain on in-person classes, a lot of students are suffering when it comes to learning. One such group is students who are studying to become the next generation’s teachers.
College students in the Elementary and Early Education department at Winona State University are having to do supplemental work instead of being in the classroom and working with children.
According to Daniel Kirk, Dean of the WSU College of Education, 516 students are enrolled in the Elementary and Early Education department.
Those 516 students are missing out on vital time of working in person with children, and many within the next few semesters will start their actual semester of student teaching.
Dr. Mary Anderson, a professor in the Elementary and Early Education department, said she is optimistic for her students to begin student teaching.
“I think they are going to be well prepared with their content,” Anderson said. “What I can’t replicate is the actual child or group of children.”
Dr. Anderson said while students are not able to work in the field, they are doing well with online learning.
“With the work students did last semester and are continuing to do this semester, I have not seen any signs of their academic work lacking at all,” Anderson said. “In fact, I might make a case that they might even be a little bit stronger.”
Payton Portugue an early education major for three semesters will begin student teaching this fall. Portugue selecting a school where she will student teach in the fall.
The education department offers a variety of classes to prepare students for teaching and working with children in a classroom environment.
Since COVID-19 started, these students have not been able to get into any of the local classrooms to work with kids.
“COVID-19 has severely cut down the time we get to spend working with kids in a classroom and building those classroom management skills,” Portugue said.
Portugue said instead of field experience, Winona State University has provided alternative methods like observational videos.
“I feel like I’ll never be one hundred percent prepared,” Portugue said. “I think that Winona has provided me with a lot of different skills and opportunities, so I think I’ll fit in pretty well.”
Hannah Seifert, an education major for three semesters at WSU delayed her field experience after studying abroad for a semester.
“I’ve been able to take all my classes,” Siefert said. “I haven’t been able to do any of the field experience which is a challenge.”
Siefert described the requirements all education students need in order to begin student teaching.
“Minnesota requires 100 hours of field experience in order to student teach, where 50 of those hours can be supplemental,” Siefert said.
Siefert is optimistic to begin student teaching even though she never had field experience due to COVID-19.
“I think by the time I’m done with student teaching I’ll be prepared since we’re learning all the material now,” Siefert said. “I’m hoping by next spring I’ll be able to student teach in person.”
Having the same conversation over and over can be tiresome, especially when you’re talking in circles.
One of the most common debates in sports is, “Moss is better than Rice,” or vice versa, and it usually gets nowhere.
That’s why in 2014, Garret Greenlee created a Twitter and YouTube channel where he could prove his sports-related thoughts through facts.
“I got sick of having the same conversation with people like, ‘man this guy’s good, or this guy’s good,’” Greenlee said. “I just created an account and thought whatever happens, happens.”
The accounts grew rapidly.
After four years, Greenlee’s Best NFL Matchups had more than 20,000 followers on Twitter.
Only problem was, he had no idea what email he used when he made the account.
“I was following people way too fast, so Twitter thought I was a spam account,” Greenlee said. “They sent an email to the account I had with it, but I had no idea what that email was, and I lost the account forever.”
Greenlee had to start all over.
Lucky for him, he had a couple friends with similar accounts, and they gave him a shout out to help build his new channel, Football Analysis.
“I only have 1,500 subscribers on YouTube right now. Not ‘only,’ like I’m grateful for them, but I want to get to the point where I’m at 30, 40, 50, 100 thousand subscribers and do a giveaway once a month of a signed whatever,” Greenlee said. “I do appreciate the support, but I want to get to a point where I can use this as a side income just for talking about what I love, which is football.”
How does Greenlee make money with these videos?
“You have to have 1,000 subscribers,” Greenlee said. “But within the past year, you also have to have four thousand watch hours of your content. So that took a little bit to build up.”
Four thousand hours may seem like a lot, but with browse features, you can reach more people than just your subscribers, which happened to Greenlee a few times.
“I have a couple with 30 thousand, 20 thousand views and that really gets a lot of the hours at almost the snap of your fingers,” Greenlee said. “So, in reality you could have one video that has 60 or 100 thousand views, and you get your four thousand hours, then the rest of your videos combined could have only 500 views.”
Since the interview, Greenlee has reached the 2,000-subscriber mark with his new account.
The content is starting to pay off.
He explains this in the video.
Andy Carlson, a Winona State graduate and creator of the Purple FTW! podcast, said a Vikings vs Ravens blizzard game in 2013 sparked his interest in talking sports.
Carlson looks at all the players on the Vikings roster and analyzes the national media coverage of the Vikings, while adding his own twist of humor for his 23,000 subscribers.
“There will always be a market for fan content,” Carlson said. “People want niched down perspective over national media jabronis.”
Here is a clip from a recent video.
With this being his side job, Carlson said he always finds the motivation to release numerous videos a day.
“The viewers who continue to make us part of their day (motivates me),” Carlson said. “If we can be a nice little five minute break from life and give some info and some entertainment. Worth it.”
Carlson offers monthly memberships for $4.99 and $24.99 on his YouTube channel that offers extra benefits such as one-on-one chats and free merchandise.
Teespring has teamed up with Carlson and Purple FTW! to sell this merchandise that includes t-shirts, mugs and stickers.
“It’s a very decent side hustle,” Carlson said. “Merch is fun, and everything helps keep the production lights on.”
With the quarantine giving people more free time than ever, podcasts and YouTube may be a good pass time to listen to, or maybe even try.
Football Analysis Link
Purple FTW! Link
The stress and fear associated with the choice of college is something that plagues almost every student.
Joel Odoom’s decision was more nerve-wracking than most as an international student in Minnesota.
Odoom was born in Ghana, Africa, and moved to Qatar in 2010 where his family still lives.
He had to adapt to a new environment and a new language, English, which he uses as his dominant language.
Leaving Ghana, his home country, proved difficult as his move would be permanent.
“Moving to Qatar was a real shocker for me,” Odoom said. “Leaving a place where I was comfortable with people with the same cultural background to going to a foreign place for me was very hard.”
Stepping outside of his comfort zone tested Odoom. He said it helped him experience life in a new way.
“It was a new opportunity and it helped me very, very much,” Odoom said.
Past obstacles moving to a “foreign” place early in life served as a factor in his decision to come to the US for college.
“I thought to myself, where’s the best place I would feel comfortable with?” Odoom said. “I thought the U.S. It seemed like the land of opportunities.”
He highlighted a few opportunities such as experiencing what the US will be like outside of what he sees in movies and television.
Odoom said he wanted to stay near his aunt and uncle and his extended family who live in the twin cities and have a safety net if things don’t turn out the way he envisions them.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t have family in Minnesota. My parents didn’t want me to struggle.” Odoom said.
Why Winona State University?
Odoom said that he wanted to find a college that was affordable, dense with diversity and international students to make him feel more accepted and supported in the path he wanted to take in school.
Odoom said he didn’t want to feel like an outcast.
He wanted to become his own person, branch out and discover new things.
“I told myself, let me find the friends who I truly believe are my friends. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the same country as me or if they’re international or not.” Odoom said. “I’ll just do whatever to make myself feel comfortable.”
After being at Winona State for two years, Odoom’s perspective and expectations changed for the better.
He explained that he gets along with everyone.
People don’t see him as an international student, and he doesn’t feel as if he is confined to a clique.
“I feel as if I am an anomaly,” Odoom said.
Odoom hinted at the reason may be because he doesn’t have a “stereotypical” accent that other international students have.
“I feel as if they would treat me differently if that was the case.”
I wake up, It’s Thursday.
The Winona State University women’s basketball team leaves today at 3:30 p.m. for games in Marshall, Minnesota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I, being the radio guy, cannot miss the bus as the men’s team does not arrive before the start of the women’s game.
Time to pack my bag and prepare for the fourth weekend on the road this season.
I’m a bit nervous as I’ve never really got on talking terms with any of the players.
They all do their thing while I sit there quietly and mind my business.
I’ve covered the WSU basketball teams for three years while working at the campus radio station, 89.5 KQAL, so you’d think I’d have a better relationship than this.
It’s just not the case.
I get to the bus stop, say hello to Coach Scott Ballard, and take my seat.
I’ve debated sparking conversation, but I don’t feel like the team is interested in my small talk, plus I feel like they discuss basketball enough as it is already.
Hours later, we arrived in Marshall.
They eat their team meal together at Texas Roadhouse or Pizza Ranch, I usually eat off to the side, then we head to the hotel for the night.
I’ve said two words since the start of the trip.
Being secluded and keeping to myself isn’t what I’d like to be doing, it just happens.
The nerves of saying something stupid or sitting where someone else wants to sit triggers my anxiety.
My boss and longtime radio professional Doug Westerman explained that it’s not unusual for radio personal to be introverts off the air.
“They just want that high energy ‘Hey everyone! Blah blah blah we got a great day in store for you!’ then all of sudden you’re walking down the hallway and they give you a nervous ‘hi.’”
How could someone be an introvert and be on the radio where you talk for hours?
Pat Broe, former KQAL Program Director and Sports Director, described the flipping of the switch from off-air to on-air as being trapped in a corner with no way out.
“There’s something about when that red light comes on that you have to start, you can’t do anything but be that person,” Broe said. “You’re trapped in a corner, you are live on air, there’s thousands of people listening to you, and you have to figure out a way to entertain them.”
Sounds pretty intense, but I found that to be accurate.
In the morning I checked out of my room at 11 a.m.
I sit in the hotel lobby until we leave for the game at 3 p.m.
5 o’clock rolled around and I plugged in the comrex, got my mics into position, and waited for my producer Ryan “Baby Shaq” Mandli to send the call my way.
“That’s going to do it for the Warrior Tip-Off Show as Buck Wallert is waiting in the R/A Facility in Marshall Minnesota, take it away Buck,” Baby Shaq said.
And I picked it right up with, “Welcome to the R/A Facility over here in Marshall Minnesota as we have a good match up in store for you tonight as your Winona State Warriors take on….”
Like that flip of a switch, I was in a zone.
From saying two words in almost an entire day, to rattling off names, stats, and match up history, you would think I knew these players their whole lives.
Anything to paint the best picture possible for the listeners back home, as according to Doug Westerman, “radio is the theatre of the mind.”
Not talking at all, to saying thousands of words, then right back to not talking after the game bothered me.
It just didn’t make sense.
Mike Martin the original KQAL radio jock and now the guy who keeps the radio station going, met with me the next day and explained how radio gives you confidence.
“It makes you think on your feet, spontaneously, and being kind of a shy kid, you’re doing it in a room by yourself, so that kind of helps too,” Martin said. “You’re talking to people, but they aren’t right in front of you. You’re by yourself, but you’re not talking to yourself, there’s maybe hundreds of people.”
Thinking of the amount of people listening to me makes me even more nervous, do I sound okay? What if I say something I shouldn’t or panic?
And panic is just what I did the first time on air.
Pat Broe reflected on the first time we were thrown into the spotlight.
“It’s a day you and I will never forget. I was producing and co-hosting, you were hosting, and neither of us knew what the heck we were doing. TJ Leverentz and Tyler Jeffries kind of just gave us the keys and let us go and let us fail, and we did,” Broe said. “I think we went to commercial 25 or more times; we didn’t turn our mics off one time, and there might have been a word that the FCC doesn’t like that got on the air. Basically, anything that could have gone wrong went wrong.”
That was just over three years ago.
Now when I go on air, I have fun with it, take it and run.
Notes or no notes I was going to think of something.
“It’s so funny too, I thought I was prepared for that day, I thought I had enough information to put a show together, but I was not even remotely close,” Broe said. “Now putting together a pregame show is easy.”
But it’s not always as easy as he says, when you’re having a bad day, you still have to be happy go lucky on air.
Martin explained this well when talking about his experience as a disc jockey.
“I had been just having a horrible bad day or something, and I was just grumpy…. Then I flip the mic on and immediately I’m cheering and I gotta play the role, I gotta play the radio guy,” Martin said. “Flipped the mic off again and went back into grumpy mode. This other guy in the control room with me said ‘how did you do that, how did you just change personality like that.’ And I’m just like ‘hey, that’s what they pay me to do.’”
I receive $20 for each game I call, as well as the free hotel rooms and couple of meals.
But, the radio has given me a voice, so I’d say I’m living the dream.
For many in Winona, the Super Bowl may not mean as much as it did a few weeks ago when the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings still had a chance at winning the championship. For one Winona company, the Super Bowl proves to be the busiest time of the year.
Headquartered on 960 E Mark St. (pictured), Wincraft, a sports merchandising company that has license rights for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and the NCAA; the Super Bowl is one of their biggest events of the year.
According to Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath, the company has been making 60 different products for each team in the big game such as decals, pennants, and a variety the sports memorabilia. The company also produces the signature Gatorade towels that are handed to the players at the conclusion of the big game.
Horvath confirmed the Super Bowl is the biggest money-making event for the company throughout the year.
“Playoffs are a great and a hot market for any sport,” Horvath said. “So, the Super Bowl is one of our best-performing events, and usually production picks up significantly from the second week of January through the balance of February.”
Horvath also noted this year’s game is especially marketable given the competitors in the game, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two teams that have not been in the Super Bowl in more than five years.
“Market-specific, demand changes a lot,” Horvath said. “Last year with the Rams and the Patriots was good, not great. This year with the 49ers and the Chiefs, it is going to set records. The fan support is all new. Fans that really want to capture the first time for them in their lifetime or, something that has not happened for a long time.”
Horvath also noted the teams’ lack of success compared to a dynasty like the New England Patriots, who have appeared in four of the last five Super Bowls, means that their fans are more likely to purchase products that a typical Patriots fan.
“If you think about it, the Patriots were dominant for a long time in the league, so often the market actually said ‘you know, AFC Champs, we don’t need as much AFC Champ product, we are just going to focus on the Super Bowl Champ,’” Horvath said. “While with these two markets, the Chiefs and the 49ers, AFC/NFC Champ product is in high demand. So, they want to prepare for this Super Bowl and then compound that with the Super Bowl.”
A team like the 49ers also creates the need for a new product that would not be made if any other team had been in their position, such as special edition seven-time NFC Championship apparel.
Despite this being the biggest event for the company, Horvath has said they have not had to rely on overtime for employees. Instead, shifting their focus ahead of time before the event.
AUDIO: Does Wincraft make Super Bowl Champion merchandise for teams before the big game? Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath address the longtime rumor.
Horvath dispelled the rumor that Wincraft makes a certain amount of Super Bowl Champion apparel ahead of time, saying the company waits until a champion is determined to “hit the presses.”
While the NFL’s biggest game proves to be the biggest event for Wincraft, the company is still constantly busy throughout the entire year.
“It is a really dynamic business because we hold so many licenses. Every month something is going on,” Horvath said. “You have the Super Bowl in February, you have March Madness, you have NBA/NHL playoffs when May and June hit, then in July and August you hit training camp and back to school.”
Horvath also noted how it is important for Wincraft to keep a local presence in Winona throughout the year, despite their sales being nationwide, citing their relationship with Winona State University.
“WSU is one of the great partners of Wincraft, we love to volunteer and talk to students, prepare them for the real world, tell them how a pro-sports license company works, and what to expect post-graduation,” Horvath said. “We have speaking events at WSU and St. Mary’s. We volunteer on boards around town and we try to help as much as we can with young professionals and help them understand what Winona has to offer.”