Pop-Break Turns Lucky Number 7 Today

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It’s September 29, and once again I find myself at a complete loss for words.

Today, this site turns one year older. Every year I try and write this retrospective/thank you column, and I never know what to say. Do I rehash the tried and true story of the site’s birth? Do I get all misty-eyed and thank the near 100 people who’ve contributed to this site? Do I the whole “without you, we’re nothing” routine to the readers? Or do I talk about how bright the future is?

You know what — I’m going to talk about all of this.

For those unfamiliar, Pop-Break.com started completely for selfish motives. I was creatively frustrated and need an outlet to write about pop culture. I dragged one of my best friends Brent Johnson into an idea I had — let’s start a blog that was reminiscent of our old college entertainment magazine. We had so much fun collaborating with people, being outlandish with our words, and just spending ours talking about pop culture. We never expected it to go anywhere, in fact, we were both stoked on the idea of reaching 100 reads by December of 2009.

To our surprise we exceeded that goal on the first night our launch. Of course, we then averaged about two reads per day for the next two months — but them’s the breaks. The Pop-Breaks? OOOOOHHHH SNAAAAP.

By Summer 2010 both Brent and I were stretched thin. We barely had time to write for the site, and that’s where one of the biggest strengths of this site was first developed — the undying passion and dedication of our staff. That year Logan J. Fowler, one of our first staff members (in fact he may have been the first), decided he was going to contribute pieces throughout the summer. His work buoyed us through a time where neither Brent or I had the time or sanity to do anything. Logan Fowler set the precedent for people other than the site’s two founders to be main contributors. It was one of the greatest things to ever happen to us.

From that summer till this very day Pop-Break.com has survived, and most importantly thrived through the hard work, creativity, and passion of its staff. Pop-Break was mainly dedicated to music and film reviews — if it were not for the staff we would’ve never covered television, comic books, news and wrestling — all of which are staples on the site. We would’ve also have never covered things like food, books, Broadway, fashion, video games, anime, or MMA — none of which we cover anymore, but they sure as hell gave us some cool opportunities.

Since Pop-Break’s launch we’ve done so many cool things — from New York and San Diego Comic Con to covering shows at Madison Square Garden to sitting in world premieres of Doctor Who. We talked to amazing people, sat throw iconic shows, rubbed elbows on social media with some major Hollywood players, and have entertained people (close to three million times) for the past seven years.

However, one of the most awesome things that has happened on this site is what has happened with the staff. I watch on the sidelines like a proud papa as some of our staff members have moved on to bigger, and better things. Sure, there’s a little bit of bittersweetness there, as I don’t want to see these people go, but I do want to see them succeed. It gives me great pride to see my people go on to national magazines, multi-billion dollar companies, and jobs that pay them for their immense talent. To know that this site had something, anything to do with that makes me proud. And I’m not going to lie, I do get tickled when I see my staff become friends outside of the site. Hell, I’m even going to officiant the wedding of one of my staff members — a person I didn’t know three years ago.

And my editors. Oh, my editors. Throughout the years these people have been the utter life blood of this site. They keep me sane. They keep this site rolling. They’re beautiful, creative and wonderful people. So thank you to former managing editors Lauren Stern and Al Mannarino, who were in the daily trenches with me for years. Thank you to our current managing Matt Kelly who is currently handling an insanely huge redesign for us. Thank you to my first television Luke Kalamar and my current television editor Aaron Sarnecky who have wrangled such a sprawling section of the site and make it a well-oiled machine. Thank you to one of my favorite people on this site, one of the most hard-working dudes I know, Dan Cohen, our film editor and our main podcaster. Thank you to our music editors throughout the years – Jason Stives, Lisa Pikaard, and Marley Ghizzone – this is one of the craziest sections to ever work on, so thank you for making it kick ass! To our news editor Laura Dengrove, thank you for your undying excitement for everything you work on. Thank you to our comic book editor Mark Henely, our former copy editor and books editor Kelly Spoer, our video games editor Logan Fowler, our horror editor Ann Hale, and our wrestling editor Michael Dworkis — you’ve all slayed it. If I missed anyone, uhhh…I’ll blame the fact I’m writing this during work.

We also don’t get to seven years without the help of you the reader. To all of you who have clicked, liked, retweeted, shared, re-posted, or just given u a glance. I thank you.

Of course, our opportunities wouldn’t have come to us if we didn’t get a little help either. People like the good brothers and sisters in Asbury Park, our official home base, helped us get here. The bands, the concert-goers, the publicists, the promoters, the movers and the shakers gave us a home, have given us opportunity and inspire us daily to keep pushing and striving for me. Big thanks to everyone at The Stone Pony, Convention Hall, Asbury Boardwalk, and Wonder Bar. The wonderful people at AEG Live and The Starland Ballroom also have been a tremendous help in our longevity. Plus thanks to every single publicist who has given a site like ours a break, even when we were so small.

What does year eight hold for break? I can’t spoil things right now, but definitely keep an eye out for a lot of new things — a new look, a new style of writing, and bigger and cooler things coming our way.

Personally, the last seven years on this site have been frustrating, maddening and sometimes depressing. Have there been times when I just want to pull the plug on the whole thing — absolutely. Have there been times when all seemed hopeless, and I don’t know if we could keep going>? Oh, you bet.

But, in the end, this site is as part of me as my gray hair, my beard, my glasses, and my personality. It’s woven into my DNA at this point, and I want to see this whole thing to continue to grow. Our potential is massive. The payoff every time I push publish on a story, whether my own or someone else’s, is immeasurable.

So thank you everyone for making this last seven years possible. I owe you one, and hopefully in year eight I can begin paying you all back.

Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be seven years old in 2016 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He currently works as a project manager in the telecom world, and is a freelance writer for NJ.com. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites