Meet Your Artifact Interviewers: John Wilkinson

"I remember taking a tape recorder to a baseball game as a kid and recording my own commentary."

Meet Your Artifact Interviewers: John Wilkinson

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
Based in: Chicago, Illinois

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and lived there my whole life until college. My parents still live in the same house. I was super super into sports. It eventually became evident that I couldn't play sports professionally, but I knew who all the local sportswriters were. I would watch SportsCenter every morning before school. I remember taking a tape recorder to a baseball game as a kid and recording my own commentary. In college, I worked for the student newspaper and fell in love with it.

What was your first big gig?

I did an internship with the LA Galaxy soccer team. Then I started a position at the Orange County Register in Orange County, California. I worked there for a year and a half before deciding I needed a change of scenery.

I moved to Chicago, where I live now, on basically a lark. My best friend lived here and his roommate had just moved out. I was telling him that I wanted to leave my job and was ready for something new. He said, “If you move in here, the rent is paid for the next two months.”

So I drove across the country with all my stuff in the back of my jeep. I started working for a newspaper out in the suburbs. I found that covering high school football games is a skill that not many people have and it’s in very high demand — every local newspaper has to find somebody who can cover six or seven football games. That got my foot in the door.

So what do you like most about interviewing for Artifact?

I like talking to people. I'm naturally curious and chatty. My first big Artifact project was the 11-episode story of a young lacrosse coach who had passed away. It was amazing hearing all these people talk about somebody who was very important to them and who was clearly a really good person.

What are your desert island book, movie, and album?

Any mystery; The Blues Brothers; Exile on Main Street (or a Rolling Stones Greatest Hits if I can take that cop-out).

Who is your dream interview?

This one is tough because I don't just want to ask a bunch of fan questions to someone I admire. How about Vin Scully. The now-retired baseball broadcasting legend would have some amazing stories from his career and would be great at telling them.

John actually recorded his own Artifact about proposing to his girlfriend. Hear some of that story here.

Want to schedule a chat with one of our awesome Artifact interviewers? Start here.