Behind the Mic: The Sunny Ravencourt Interview
A lot of exciting things are happening with MOG Radio, including the addition of Sunny Ravencourt and his podcast, Sunny’s Diner, to the MOG radio lineup. I had the chance to sit down with Sunny recently and discuss his past, his time in radio and podcasting and his move to joining MOG Radio and the MOG Nation.
Unfortunately, due to the length of the interview, not everything could make it, however worry not, for the audio for the podcast has been saved and I am sure that some of the bits that you have missed will turn up again in the future. Throughout this piece I’ll be interjecting my own thoughts on our discussions, filling you in on some of the insights gained.
The bold lines and the italicized items that follow are the transcription of what happens, bold items being my questions, italicized items being Sunny’s response. Those sections that are in a normal font, represent my own thoughts and ideas looking back on what was an enlightening interview with the host of Sunny’s Diner.
Kelindel: For those who may not be aware of who you are and what you do, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Sunny: Well, my name is Sunny Ravencourt. I host a podcast called Sunny’s Diner. It previously was associated with Star Wars: The Old Republic and it was geared specifically towards casual gamers. I started it with a guy called Radicool and he is and was my best friend from high school. Now we’re well beyond high school, I am in my thirties now.
I wanted to do a podcast because I initially started out in radio. I can’t do that anymore, I’m a lawyer now, and unfortunately there are better paying jobs out there than radio. It is a fantastic love of mine and so podcasting was a way to go back to it.
So anyway, I started a podcast for Star Wars: The Old Republic for casual gamers, because that is sort of what I am, in some sense, and it is a niche market that we didn’t really think was tapped out there. We did that and went for a very long time until recently I decided to branch it out a little bit more, but keep most of the theme the same, to turn it into what I really like doing which is an interview show for gamers.
During the course of our conversation, Sunny revealed quite the interesting history, starting off with a career in local television news, that turned into radio where he developed much of the skills that would help him with podcasting. It may come as a surprise, but Sunny is even an award winning advertiser, having won a local Addy award for some of the advertising and jingles that he wrote. I could really see why, after such creative and exciting endeavors, he would wish to get back into radio and podcasting after his break from it while in Law School.
Kelindel: How long was it (after you stopped working in radio) before you got into podcasting?
Sunny: Honestly, I didn’t start podcasting until a little over a year ago with Sunny’s Diner. I had a radio show at the college radio station before that. When I moved back to the Iowa City area, maybe five years ago, I went in for an alumni radio appearance and it was so much fun I asked them if I could have my own show.
They hooked me up and I had a show there called The Now. It was basically a news show where I talked about whatever was topical and kept things moving. And then I played the top five in the triple a indie rock market. It was a lot of fun, I had a great time, but I’d have to leave the house and do this once a week and, I mean it was an hour long show, but when you do show prep and then post, it basically takes a whole night.
So, I had been following Star Wars: The Old Republic for about five years and been listening to a lot of other podcasts and I was always really intrigued by it because of a podcast called Tavern Cast, which was for World of Warcraft. I thought that was the best podcast out there. I frankly stole a lot of their ideas; the live setting, friendly sort of banter, the idea that it was in a tavern and mine’s in a diner, because it was very friendly and welcoming. I didn’t want to do it myself, I wanted to have another co-host and I managed to convince Radicool to do it with me. It gave me the chance to reconnect with him, it had probably been about a decade since we had done anything together.
Kelindel: Wow, that’s a long time.
Sunny: Yeah, so it worked out great. It started very small and eventually we got bigger than we ever thought we would get. I mean, the fact that anybody recognizes the name Sunny still to this day is a minor miracle as far as I’m concerned *laughter*.
Kelindel: It’s a very distinctive show, it really stands out.
Sunny: That’s the idea. We had three things that we wanted to do with creating Sunny’s Diner. We wanted it to be short; we felt a lot of the podcasts were too long. We wanted it to have a niche market, and that is why we geared it towards the casual gamer. A lot of podcasts came out and they wanted them to be everything for everybody and we just knew we couldn’t do that. And the third thing is that we wanted to have really high audio quality and I knew that I could do that easily with my experience. We think we hit all three on the head there and I really think that set us apart there from a lot of other podcasts.
There was no news on it, we didn’t do any news. There were so many other places to get that stuff that were better than us as far as having that quick access. We just did what we wanted to do and did it as good as we possibly could and I think we really distinguished ourselves from a lot of other podcasts.
Kelindel: Now, you were with TORWars before correct?
Kelindel: And now you are joining MOG Radio. How is the show changing as you come over to MOG Radio?
Sunny: Well I never would have left TORWars if I wasn’t changing the show. I’ve always been a big fan of TORWars. I think they do a phenomenal job with The Old Republic. However, the show is changing because I am no longer playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. And I don’t feel it would be cohesive with what they are doing over there. I didn’t think it would be genuine of me to talk about Star Wars exclusively if I am not playing the game, especially for my sort of show that doesn’t do news. It’s experience and if I am not experiencing it, what good is my opinion? And so, when I decided to change the show, I had to make a decision, do I simply want to hang it up or do I want to make it something different? I have far too much fun doing this to hang it up at this point.
So I thought, what can I do that I really enjoy? What I really like to do is to interview other people. I like to hear their stories and find out what makes them tick and who they are and why they’re gamers, what makes them enjoy the industry so much. And so, that is what it is going to be. The show is going to be me interviewing other gamers, whether they are developers, or big wigs from major companies, all the way down to regular, run of the mill gamers that have an interesting story or play a kind of game that not everybody knows about. Or maybe they know more than anybody else about a particular game.
One of the kinds of people that I really like to interview is other podcasters. They are so dedicated to their particular franchise, that they are really fantastic tools for information and they care. I know, because I cared too much about my game *laughs* during that time. And if you were to ask me questions about it, I could tell you darn near anything. And so, podcasters are a really neat asset and they do radio well.
Kelindel: I think it’s hard to do a podcast without having some level of investment in your subject.
Sunny: That’s absolutely it, and I think that is what’s going to really make this a challenge. I am going to have to be able to dabble in a lot of different kinds of game play philosophies. I mean, my philosophies were pretty apparent over the last year plus of Sunny’s Diner. But just because I am not into something, doesn’t mean it is not valid or interesting to my listeners. I’ll always have my own opinions on things, but there are a lot of people out there who are fantastic stories that I wouldn’t normally come across if I was just blindered to what I like to do.
We discussed many games out there, discussing his like for games and the evolution of the game industry from our youth to now. I had always grown up as a Nintendo child, while Sunny was a child of a Sega household and we had a long discussion, just about how so much of our identities as gamers is established so early on and how it changes and evolves over the course of time and informs in its own way the games that we play later on in life. And during the course of this discussion I was struck by a truly insightful thought that Sunny had.
Sunny: Here’s another point I wanted to make. With the show, Sunny’s Diner, moving forward, I think that, and it’s kind of a recurring theme that is going to be a part of the show, is that people of our generation, we were the first real generation to have games from the first parts of our memorable lives all the way until now. Yes there were people who had pong in the seventies, but I think that our particular generation that grew up with those early PC’s and consoles; we’re in a very special class. We’ve always known what it’s like to be gamers and a lot of us have never given that up because we just evolved the kind of game play that we’ve had till now. I think that’s something that a lot of my audience can appreciate and more than that, I don’t think that my audience would have existed five, six seven years ago. Where I can say ‘for the casual gamer that is later in life,” that has a family and things like that.
As Sunny went on to say it is really a “unique sort of generational thing that is starting to exist.” This is something that is very unique and we are all a part of it and it wasn’t until Sunny spoke on it that I began to realize just how true it is.
Eventually we found our way back to his show and as things were wrapping up, this is what followed.
Kelindel: What would you say to the person who has never heard of your podcast before, someone in the Nation who has never heard it; what would you tell them to describe your show and why they should listen?
Sunny: I would say this: If you are a member of the MOG Nation, you probably have a certain level of gaming experience and maturity that attracts you to the kind of people who started this whole thing. I’m that exact same way, and so what I’m doing is finding other people who are like that, that happen to have interesting gaming backgrounds or jobs in the industry and I’m just kind of talking to them the same way that you would if you happened to have access.
The show is going to be the quality that has always been associated with Sunny’s Diner and hopefully the content will rise to that level. I would just say, give it a shot, if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. As I said earlier, I’m doing it because I enjoy doing it and if you want to come along for the ride, then I am more than happy to bring you along with me.
Kelindel: Sounds good. And where can people here some of your previous work, before your move to MOG Radio?
Sunny: I have everything available on iTunes, ITunes would be the easiest way. We are on facebook. facebook.com/sunnysdiner. And I am on twitter @sunnysdiner. As far as making all the other shows available, I am sure I’ll find someplace to post links on mog-radio.com, but as of right now, iTunes is really the best way to see just about everything. I think I have all but the first fourteen shows on there. I do have the first show up there so you can see the rocky start *laughs* That’s always fun.
Kelindel: Every show has it’s teething pains *laughs* Is there anything else you would like to add? Future projects or anything you would like to say to our readers?
Sunny: I would say that if you’re catching MOG Radio at this time, you are really on the ground level of something special. I think that this is going to be a fantastic endeavor. For the first time, in my gaming experience, I’m associated with a group of people that will continue from game to game, which in the MMO world is so rare. You’ll have one set of friends that go by one set of names, then you’ll go to the next game and completely lose touch with them, even though they may actually be playing that game. And this (The MOG Nation) solves that problem and on top of that, they are building a community around it with a lot of very talented Podcasters in the way of The Siege and Old Republic Radio and all of the other podcasts they are going to be associated with. And it is going to be a lot of fun. So I think that if you’re getting into MOG Radio and MOG Nation right now, you’re on the ground floor of something very special.
I hope you enjoyed this small look into Sunny Ravencourt and his histories and show. And I hope that you are as excited as I am to have him joining us here at MOG Radio. He’s a fantastically insightful man and I look forward to seeing how that insight will help him with the new format of Sunny’s Diner. Welcome to the team Sunny!
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