Monday, January 13, 2014

Thank You, Chris Hagstrom

The voices of AAPW
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

About four years ago I sent a private message via Facebook to a guy named Chris Hagstrom.  I had never met Chris in person, but we had several mutual friends.  He was a DJ on a local radio station, a ring announcer for All American Pro Wrestling, and doing work with the Frontier League baseball team here, The Southern Illinois Miners.

I was contacting Chris to find out if he could help me land an interview on the phone with wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler.  Sure enough, Chris made it happen, and the interview aired on News 3 This Morning.  (This was before the days of My 1-2-3 Cents)

Nearly a year after that, in March 2011 I got a message from Chris.  He told me he was working with AAPW and his students at SIU (by this time he was working for the University and teaching a class among a million other duties) to produce a pilot for AAPW Collision.  Chris asked if I'd like to do color commentary with him.  As a life long wrestling fan, I jumped at the chance.  At that point, there was no TV deal or Internet in place, it was just a project for his students, but I was excited to help none-the-less.

I was gone to Wrestlemania 27 that weekend, but Chris and I did commentary in post production.  He spent hours (maybe even days) editing the 60 minute show and presented it to the management at the station I work for, WSIL.  Chris got the green light and in September 2011, AAPW Collision made its television debut.

The SportsBlast Show
It was an exciting time, as Chris and I handled the commentary duties.  He was also the executive producer for the show, and eventually became the promoter.  Chris loves wrestling so much and this was his way of giving back to the fans around the region.  He provided an opportunity for so many people to live out their dreams.  Not many people know this, but Chris bankrolled the lions' share of AAPW Collision.  He secured the location of Black Diamond Harley Davidson, bought a ring, and secured the production equipment.  He hired a staff to shoot the action it each month.  Chris spent the time to edit it.  This was a huge endeavour and a costly one too, and I can't thank him enough for that opportunity.  But more importantly, I need to thank him for his friendship.

Greatest night in local wrestling, ever!
Chris cares so much about wrestling, but he cares even more about people.  He always greeted the boys (and girls) in the back with a handshake and a smile.  He made sure people were taken care of every month.  Long before the doors opened and that bell sounded, Chris was with the small, but determined ring crew setting up for the show.  He was there long after as we picked up trash and tore things down and loaded his SUV and my van with items for the storage unit.  He, Adam Testa, and I dubbed ourselves "The Brain Trust" and that picture to the left is us with Matt Cross, El Generico, PAC, and Colt Cabana on the night of AAPW's greatest success "Main Event."

Faces for radio
This work ethic and desire to entertain fans in southern Illinois carried over with the creation of From the Rafters Radio, a weekly radio show on Monster Radio 1150 AM as well as a podcast on iTunes.  That project cost money too, and Chris was there to pay for it as well.  Same thing with Pro Wrestling Collision, which was created more than a year ago.

Pro Wrestling Collision
We've been on wrestling road trips together, competed against one another in dance offs, and he saved my butt at Main Event.  Chris is leaving SIU and southern Illinois and headed to South Bend, Indiana.  I will miss him, not just for our wrestling conversations, and lunches at Italian Village and Quatros, but for his friendship.  There aren't many people in this world who have the compassion and consideration toward other human beings like Chris Hagstrom.  So Chris, thanks for everything over the last four years.  Your friendship has meant the world to me.


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