10 Questions with ... Mike Steele
April 5, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KLBJ/Austin - Afternoon drive (Sept 2003 - Sept 2006)
- CSB School of Broadcasting - Radio Instructor (Feb 2007 - Jan 2009)
- WXDX/Pittsburgh - Producer/The Mark Madden Show (Oct 2011 - Feb 2014)
- Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network - Producer (2013 - 2015 Seasons)
- WDVE/Pittsburgh - Weekends/Swing (September 2014 - Present)
1) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I try to keep my mind occupied with projects at home. Whether it's organizing a closet or taking inventory of my music collection. And I try to see as much live music as possible.
2) Some people 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've been out of the business a couple times, whether it was my choice or not. Being on the outside, I noticed that I wasn't watching TV or looking at social media as intently for my next idea for the station blog or a future talk break.
3) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
It's what I do. It's who I am. It's not just a job to me. Some people can just disconnect once they click off the mic at the end of their shift. I actually like show prep, because if I learn something myself, I like to share it with my listeners.
4) What's the best way to get your foot in the door?
Most programmers, at their core, just want to be confident you can handle the job you're assigned, whether it's a drive-time shift, or a board-op for a satellite show. As someone who has learned a good deal about the business and the skills involved, it's best to continue to learn. So when an opportunity/job presents itself, you are prepared to take advantage.
5) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
Moved 1,600 miles without a guarantee of a full-time gig. But it was a really cool city!
6) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
Afternoon drive at a Rock station.
7) Are you finding salaries/benefits lower than you ever thought, about the same, or have you seen some pleasant surprises?
I have been part-time/swing for a number of years, so I honestly don't know what a competitive salary would be. But I personally would like to be pleasantly surprised when a full-time opportunity presents itself!
8) What's the most unbelievable on-air bit you were allowed to do?
I was doing afternoons at KLBJ/Austin. I created a photo scavenger hunt, where listeners had to drive around the city to capture images of landmarks or objects. This was before everyone had cameras on their smartphones. We gave them disposable cameras, and part of the contest was taking the film to get developed. First one back with all the pics on the list got front-row tickets to see Def Leppard.
9) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
Of course! You have to know what your competition is doing. But also, listen to find out what other stations are approaching in regards to imaging, promotions, station events, etc. even if it's outside your preferred format. I want to get a bead on new music, or re-discover some of the classic stuff. I also love live music, so satellite radio provides that for me, too.
10) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?0
I got my hair cut for 'Locks of Love' while live on-the-air ... a 10-12 inch ponytail chopped off. I had created a good relationship with a locally-owned hair salon. In the next three years, I recruited my listeners twice a year to come to the station studios to participate, as well. The salon provided a free hair cut and then donated the ponytails to Locks of Love. We had tremendous response, with as many as 10-13 people per event. It was a "hair raising" experience!
Seen any great movies?
"The Revenant" ... not just a good story of revenge and survival, but as an audio production guy, the sound design was tremendous!