Tag Archives: T.J. Simers

How’d You Write That? ESPN The Magazine’s Kevin Van Valkenburg


On the MTTS podcast, we’re debuting a brand-new segment, called “How’d You Write That?” and it should be fairly obvious what it’s all about. Our first guest happens to be an excellent one, ESPN the Magazine’s Kevin Van Valkenburg. Before you listen, make sure to read last month’s feature on Adam Muema, “Hiding in Plain Sight.” In our chat, we discuss how Van Valkenburg got in touch with the elusive Muema in the first place, why he structured the story the way he did, whether he ever felt Muema was manipulating him, and how he handled a competing outlet trying to write the same story.

Interviewed on 6-6-14

Here’s something newsworthy:

Before we get to Van Valkenburg’s interview, we remember the career of longtime LA Times columnist T.J. Simers, who announced his retirement from the Orange County Register (and from sports writing as a whole) this past week. One of my favorite portions of Episode 15 is Simers talking about how he created his own little world in the columns he wrote, and I’ve included a snippet of it in this week’s episode.

T.J. Simers, longtime L.A. Times/current Orange County Register columnist


Longtime Southern California columnist T.J. Simers has been acerbic and acidic throughout much of his career, but that’s not how he sees himself. He sees himself as a humor columnist. That’s actually his first goal when he wakes up in the morning — to make people laugh.

In our chat, we talk about how and why he made the transition from the L.A. Times to the Orange County Register, how he built the T.J. Simers world for his readers complete with recurring characters and inside jokes, and why he feels comfortable being completely (and oftentimes uncomfortably) honest with his subjects in the newspaper and in real life.

Plus, he explains why a columnist’s best attribute is survival, and we reminisce about Mike Royko, Jim Murray, and Red Smith.

My favorite Simers quote from our chat:

“Do I cringe at myself sometimes? Absolutely.”

Here are some of the subjects we talked about (and some we didn’t).