10 Questions with ... Michael Bower
June 3, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Until recently, I was the "ringleader" of "The Bower Show," a Sports Talk show on WUCS/ Hartford, CT that was also simulcast on WAVZ-A. New Haven, CT Prior to 2012, I fulfilled a childhood dream of being a "Jack Of All Trades" as a regular fill-in host at 96.9 Boston Talks (Political Talk), IRO/Seattle (News/Talk), KGO-A/San Francisco (News/Talk) and 104.3 The Fan in Denver (Sports). I began my current East Coast residence after hosting a sports/pop-culture game for EA SPORTS in Orlando, FL. and hosting "The Bower Show" in both AM and PM drive for the Maxim Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
A lot of little things that, when totaled, don't give me the opportunity to feel de-motivated. Family, first and foremost. Additionally, my producer/partner from my sports show in Hartford and I have been doing podcasts -- on and off -- for the past six years. So we are taking the equity we had from two years in Hartford and are producing a podcast two times a week for our listeners. It's doing very well and we are lucky enough to have established great relationships with some of our regular guests who have offered to join us on the podcasts as well.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I guess the both lucky and unlucky part of not having your contract renewed was that the day after getting that news, my wife delivered our second daughter. So, being able to be a stay-at-home Dad has been a blessing. Additionally, a small voiceover booth in my kid's playroom has allowed me to both freelance some voiceover work and continue auditioning with my voiceover agents in both New York City and Orlando. Thanks to Dan O'Day, I have been dipping my professional toes into the world of audiobook narration. The next step is to reach out into either freelance radio production from home or doing some occasional to regular voice tracking for radio stations. Maybe one day soon I can get a full-blown studio going and begin doing my dream show from there for stations to pick up ...*SLAP*...wake up, Bower!
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
Wow, I'm not sure at this point. I mean, radio is IN me. It always has been and always will be a part of my life. At present, I am more than a little disheartened with pursuing a job -- for the better part of 15 years -- that may not actually exist. I'm also saddened by the way things are being run in the business nowadays. So I am exploring other opportunities that will let me keep my feet based in entertaining, personality-based radio, but will also let me be my own boss. I feel like if I could find the "golden ticket" to help podcasts generate revenue, I'd feel pretty satisfied. Until then, I keep pursuing my dream of Talk radio domination.
4) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I have been holding out hope that there would be an outlet for FM Talk to be reborn. I don't think that the "Free-FM" version of FM Talk was the right way to eschew that format out of the radio world. It needs to evolve; it can and it is with help from programmers such as Larry Gifford and Owen Murphy when both were at KIRO in Seattle, Bo Matthews (formerly of WMMS, now of WEBN in Cincy), the vision of Grace Blazer (formerly of 96.9 in Boston; now at Clear Channel in Miami) and Nate Lundy at KKFN in Denver. Additional programmers that I think can make that evolution occur are Andrew Paul at KNXT in Las Vegas, Ryan Hatch at KTAR in Phoenix and Jared Hart now at WPHT.
5) Are you finding salaries/benefits lower than you ever thought, about the same, or have you seen some pleasant surprises?
The biggest surprise has been the "hiring freezes" going on in our business, coupled with the seeming overflow of big companies hiring part-time people to do the job of what has always been two to three full-time employees at a radio station. I get the need to save some money, but to see how those part-timers are working as opposed to how they are treated, all while executives in the company are signing massive contracts, is a huge motivating factor in deciding which companies to apply to.
6) With consolidation there are definitely fewer jobs. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
By having a great package to send perspective stations and a wide, WIDE range of abilities. I have heard time and time again from programmers who are looking for talent that my aircheck stood out. They insinuated that some of the resumes, airchecks and overall package that they were receiving in regards to the opening were are all well below standards. I have done all forms of Rock radio, Top 40 and Talk radio. Music Director, APD and even Promotions Director ... even regular shifts on Comedy radio ... I have depth as a person and that reflects in my depth as a broadcaster.
7) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
Frankly, yes and no. I do, but it's not through the "radio." It's through apps on my phone like Tune-in that allow me to listen to The Sports Hub in Boston or The Ticket in Detroit. I get to listen to Real Radio Orlando and Fox Sports Radio -- even when they are nowhere near my current market. But I would have to say, I find as much -- if not more -- entertainment value in listening to podcasts. Not technically radio, although most are former radio hosts now doing podcasts.
8) 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?
Yes. 100%. But there is always that feeling in the back of your mind that you have to make your house payment or to get the kids camp payment in. It's fantastic to be home for dinner with all of my girls, and I enjoy every second of it. Sometimes I do feel the pressure to get back to work, slip itself in.
9) Is there anything specific that you regret doing while you were still working?
Regret, not really. In my most recent position, I did everything that I could to ensure success. You can only do so much with the people you have supervising you. But if there was one aspect I would have approached differently, I would have gone outside the station for help creating content for my show earlier than I did. I received AMAZING help and insight from the person who made me feel heard and helped me find a place to work within unstated guidelines and a severe lack of direction. I would have done it sooner and made it clear to everyone involved that I was taking that step immediately.
10) If you were offered a similar position to what you were doing for considerably less money, would you seriously consider taking the job just to stay in the biz?
I'd like to take a big, fat stand on this and take one for the "love of the biz" team, but I can't. Not now. As it was, I took a substantial pay cut to take the last job. And no matter how much anyone explains that you could make more talent/endorsement fees to make up for the cut in salary, it's a pipe dream. Now with a newborn, I can't take less. Sorry team.
Your favorite new diversion is ...
Two of them: Odesk.com - as a freelance voiceover talent, it's a good way to find some simple, quick freelance work. The other has been trying to teach myself how to design mobile apps. I taught myself HTML back in the late '90s and with this downtime, I'm going to try to teach this old dog some new hi-tech tricks.