10 Questions with ... Mike Harper
March 11, 2013
1. Give me a brief history/synopsis....where you were born, schools, family, etc.
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1958. (Everything was in black and white back then.) I graduated from Colerain High School in 1976, and attended Miami University in Ohio for one semester of marching band. Then I got distracted and went to work for General Motors. I since have gone back to school at LSU in Shreveport, Tyler Junior College, and University of Texas in Tyler. I'm about 10 hours shy of a bachelor's degree in Speech Communication, and 3 fries short of a Happy Meal. My wife Lois and 4 grown kids couldn't be prouder. My 5 month old grandson thinks education is overrated.
2. What was it that made you "catch the bug" for radio? When did you realize that it was what you wanted to do for a living?
I caught the bug listening to the '70s hippies of 102.7 WEBN in Cincinnati. (I think Chuck Finney was involved somehow.) I knew radio was for me after the 20th set of stitches working with metal in the body shop at GM. When I began causing OTHER people's stitches, I fled the scene and headed to Tyler, Texas.
3. What's the most successful on-air bit/break you've ever been part of?
It was just this morning. My co-host Carrie Parsons was awesome. I was fair. But it was great to be a part of it.
4. With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep? How do you prepare?
Carrie and I have a general guideline as we schedule day to day, i.e. Marriage Monday, Parenting Tuesday, etc. We pull archived calls to kick off the topic, and add fresh calls during the show.
Then I put a slice of bologna in both of my shoes so I "feel funny".
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
My greatest personal challenge in radio is not being jealous of the "big station" competition. To overcome it, I hug KLOVE guys whenever I see them. That's working out pretty well for me.
6. Who are 3 people that you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
I hold the highest esteem for my boss and friend, Troy Kriechbaum. He has led our team with a Godly example of integrity, humility, and work ethic. God has blessed us immensely under his leadership. And I am not just kissing up or blowing smoke for a raise either. I maxed out my pay grade years ago.
I also give props to our consultant and Texas compatriot Chuck Finney, who has helped our ministry thrive. His experience and radio savvy have been invaluable, and he consistently offers his expertise with generosity, poise, and character. He is also, by the way, the best smelling man on our team.
Finally, the man who trained me. He's now the #2 guy at Focus on the Family. I was a young Christian in 1989 when John Fuller graciously took me under his wing and not only showed me the ropes of radio, but also how to be an upright man of ministry. He's come so far, but when I met him, he had the most unsightly mullet in the history of radio.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
The single greatest factor in building audience share/cume is to play as much Chris Tomlin as humanly possible. .
8. Most successful station promotion ever?
Our biggest and best promotion to date is our Valentines for Kids event. We urge families, Sunday school classes, etc. to make homemade Valentines, and drop them off at locations listed on our website. We then deliver them to kids in the hospital as well as seniors in assisted living on Valentine's Day. The relative ease, high level of media coverage, and low-cost fun of this event has made it a highlight on our calendar.
Running a close second would be the live remotes from the roof of the local bookstore dressed in a bird suit. It really wasn't all that successful, but it sure was weird.
9. How do you combat the iPod/satellite/online option listeners have today? What are the steps to compete?
We try to provide what other media doesn't or can't. We focus on being emotionally connective every time we open the mic. We're also intentional about being visible in the community and developing / maintaining relationships locally. And if all else fails, I just say I'm Kidd Kraddick.
10. Radio 101....in 101 words or less, how would you guide/instruct/advise a radio programmer/air talent who wants to get better at their craft?
- Read your Bible and pray.
- Say your call letters obsessively.
- Get a consultant who's not afraid to tell you the truth...but does it with grace...and wears a nice jacket.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air?
I was wearing a wireless mic during a fundraiser and accidently left it on in the restroom! (Okay, that never happened, but hoo-wee is my face red just thinking about it!)
2. Favorite cereal, favorite cartoon character and favorite fast food choice?
As a kid I used to love Fruit Loops, Honey Comb, and Frosted Flakes. Now, (insert obligatory "old guy" bran cereal reference here.)
For animated fun I love Popeye and Olive Oyl because they remind me of Lois and me. (Jeff Johnson as Bluto?)
When dining fast, I enjoy our local "Rock and Roll Whataburger" for the delicious burgers and "good times/great oldies" atmosphere, (despite the crusaders' death threats).
3. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
"I'm Mike Harper. Jesus loves you, and I'm not wearing pants."