10 Questions with ... "The Real Deal" Mike Neil
August 16, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Went to the greatest broadcast school on earth ... listened to the radio. Brought my own broom and hung around radio stations. Until I got inside, I hung around outside. If the station had a picture window or some way to watch the jocks on the air (WIFE/Indianapolis as a kid of 11-12 years old) it was a bonus! Eventually got to run the board on weekends, weekends turned into overnights and the rest, as they say is history.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I'm also a musician (drummer) so I can go to open jams and literally get pick up gigs or just jam out. And being a drummer means I ain't no one-trick-pony. I can play all styles and gig. Obviously that has also helped me work so many different formats musically. I can hear and feel the DNA connection in all music.
2) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
It's strange but just because I'm not currently employed by a radio station doesn't mean I'm out of radio. I know it doesn't really make sense but I've always felt that way. As a matter of fact, you could say I've been in radio ever since I was a child.
3) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, e-mails, rejection letters, etc.)
About the same as it's always been. I know how uncomfortable it can be to have to say 'no' to someone. And to turn down offers. I've realized over a few 24 hours that rejection works both ways. It can hurt the person on the other side of the desk as well. Both the one being rejected and the one doing the rejecting.
4) Are you finding salaries/benefits lower than you ever thought, about the same, or have you seen some pleasant surprises?
Definitely lower. But there are more opportunities to expand and grow and strengthen your communication skills than ever before. It's mind boggling! Again it's all about communicating. Connecting. We are living in an amazing time. Yes, both positively and negatively. But the possibilities are endless today. And that's all I ever need. A possibility ... a chance. Hope ... look out!
5) What's the most unbelievable on-air bit you were allowed to do?
There are so many I couldn't pick just one. But back in the day as a baby DJ I have to admit I wasn't always, as you put it, 'allowed.' One of my lines was, "I'm the best whoever did it and got away wid it." Needless to say I didn't always 'get away wid it.' But you'd be amazed at some of the folks who encouraged me to push the envelope. I once was relentlessly attacking a nighttime competitor to the point that their lawyers sent us a cease-and-desist order. The owner called me in his office and well, you know the feeling. I took a deep breath, walked into his office and braced myself. He handed me the C&D order as well as letters from the competition's GM and PD and allowed me to read them. After I handed them back to him, he leaned forward over his desk, got right in my face and quietly but sternly said, "I got lawyers, too. Go get 'em." I was a foot off the ground that whole night.
6) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
I'll let you know on my death bed.
7) What have you learned about yourself, others, or life in general in your downtime?
Some folks say you really get to know who your friends are, but you can't just paint it with a broad brush like that. Your friends or buddies are more than likely locked into a routine that's dictated to them and structured for them by someone else. I'm now on my own to discipline and structure my own time. When people don't get back to you as quickly as they used to or don't reach out as often, it may not be as intentional as you think. And besides, let's not delude ourselves here. We have to realize that we all have 'hot dog' friends and 'steak & lobster' friends. Some folks may just be 'show biz' friends. And that's okay.
8) 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 hate to admit it out loud, but yes. At the same time, money is attracted not chased. A local merchant and big-time ad client used to cut all his agency spots -- both TV and radio -- at the facilities in a major market where I was working. This was one of those larger-than-life characters you see on TV all the time dressing like a clown and acting like an idiot saying, "Come in and rip ME off!" Well, he came by the station with an entourage one day and busted in the studio talking about how much he loved my show, blah, blah, blah. I put him on the air with me and he went nuts. During a stopset he leaned into me and said, "Ya know, they could take everything. My dirt (real estate), my paper (money) and my toys (boats, cars etc). Everything. I could lose it all today. But I'll have it all back and more in a year or two. Ya know why 'Real Deal'? Because they can't take away this and this (pointing to his heart and his head). They can't touch this. That's my bank account. That's my treasure chest!" I'll never forget that.
9) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
If you truly love communicating with people. If you really, truly love making that almost spiritual connection with others and being plugged into a community, there's no advice good enough for you but to just trust your heart and gut and do it!
10) How will this experience change you when you get back to work?
It only makes me better. More grateful and appreciative. More humble. And there's never anything wrong with that.
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin.