10 Questions with ... Mike Lee
June 18, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
As the old Rush song goes, I consider myself "A friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive." Jack of all trades, master of some. I got bitten by the radio bug as a kid after constantly listening to radio, winning a contest on WALK, and growing up on "American Top 40," "The King Biscuit Flower Hour," "Rockline," "Take a Stand with Father John," "Imus in the Morning," "The 'BAB Morning Show," WABC, WNNNNNNBC, WPLJ, Z100, etc. Lafayette College radio hooked me at WJRH; I got a sweet internship at WZZO, and I eventually knew I "made it" in the business when Imus pushed me in the hall at my first job at WFAN. Running the Production Department for WMJC and WGSM will always be one of the favorite chapters of my career, and I never got over being the last jock on Rocker WRCN before 94.3 FM got flipped to Country. In my "Heaven and Hell" DJ days, I'd play Ozzy and Metallica in the morning at 'RCN, then Sandi Patty and Amy Grant in the afternoons at WLIX. Shadow Traffic/Metro Networks was a great experience, but I can't believe I flew in a two-seater Cessna 150 plane reporting traffic for so many years. I have loved on-air work, production, writing, reporting, interviews, promotions, sales, and engaging with listeners from loads of stations in various formats ... where else would I get my best clothing?
1) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I advocate for people in need, do laundry, drive kids to piano lessons, encourage other job seekers, and serve on the Board of Directors of the Christian Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest.
I'm also blessed with some great part-time gigs, such as hosting "The Home & Garden Show" and producing and co-hosting "FayDay" on KYKN. I even get to continue doing voice work for WMCA, although I moved from New York in 2008.
2) People either get discouraged or enlightened with the business when they actually step out of it for a while. Tell us your observations from the outside.
I'm thankful to be encouraged by people in the industry, both locally and across the country. Many listeners, non-profit groups, bands, churches and volunteers also keep in touch, so it's nice to know that your efforts made a lasting impact.
3) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
I got seriously lost in traffic on the way to an interview to work with ... Shadow Traffic. Maybe that's why the other guy got hired first.
4) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I'd love to teach at a local college.
5) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
I am constantly modernizing, staying on top of the trades, and reevaluating. Preparing for my part-time gigs as if they were full-time jobs is keeping me sharp. While I'm still looking, I am preparing to take the NCRC, a standardized career skills test that is growing across the country. I also intentionally revamped and increased my online and social media presence, thanks greatly to my delightful ex-"work wife" Ana Brors, who is now Digital Strategist and Co-Founder of Social Media Handlers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
6) Are you able to slow down and enjoy free time doing things with your family and friends that you probably did not have time to do while you were working?
I ride bikes and throw the football around with my kids, eat dinner with the family, and try to give my wife more opportunities to shine in her interests and business, Classical Conversations.
7) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
It's really about relationships. Doing all I can to help out my teammates and listeners has given me friendships that continue to this day.
However, I didn't exactly mind meeting artists, emceeing major events, hearing my work complimented, or getting on VH-1's "Where Are They Now?"
8) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
Most: the constant feeling of connecting and making a difference in people's lives.
Least: meeting people who complain about what my stations play.
9) What have you learned about yourself, others, or life in general in your downtime?
I can encourage, advise, and build up other people better than I do for myself.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
Intern and get real-world experience, prove yourself, and see what opens. Never burn bridges, learn to make good coffee, arrive early, and be willing to stay late (but not so much as to be creepy or show that you have no other life). Connect with people on multiple platforms. Always ask questions, and communicate early and often. Avoid debt.
Be wise as a serpent WHILE gentle as a lamb: to some degree, don't trust anyone and cover your assets.
My favorite new diversion is ...
God help us, I now have my teenage daughter watching pro wrestling with me.