10 Questions with ... Mandi Michaels
August 23, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Started with a vocational school in high school, then while at Ball State University (yes I have a "David Letterman" degree, waiting for my millions!) I started at WMDH/Muncie, IN. I turned down three full-time offers to complete my Bachelors and don't regret it. When out of college, I continued in radio in Richmond, IN at WFMG for five years, then I took the plunge and cold-called WDCG in Raleigh and GOT A JOB! I worked in that cluster for five years. I returned to Indiana working at Cumulus' WRW/Indianapolis, then WAJI/Fort Wayne for a year. WAJI flipped formats, so I took a job in Terre Haute, IN at WTHI. We parted ways, so here I am on the beach!
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I have contract work that helps my voice stay in the business. This also helps me keep a positive outlook on landing the perfect gig. When one door closes a better one opens!
2) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
Yes and no. I've had former co-workers and former PDs tell me I am too talented to quit. I am still very passionate about radio even though I recognize it's shrinking a bit. No, because I have many talents and passions. I want to keep my options open for any opportunity. I would love to work on the other side with St. Jude, helping with radiothons, or using my Ball State Degree speech background. We shall see which path opens for me!
3) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
I drove to Raleigh, NC (I had one person I knew there but hadn't spoken to her in five years!), showed up at WDCG because I saw that a woman was the PD and the station sounded great and looked great online. I didn't know they were #1, but I was drawn to it and knew I had to work for this talented woman, Randi West. No, I didn't know anyone at the station. I knew she'd be in at 9a, so I showed up in a dress and heels with my demo/resume at 9:15a and asked to speak to her. She came out and asked me back to her office. She said I could work part-time but they were on a hiring freeze for full-time even if she had a position. I moved two weeks later and called her saying I was in Raleigh. She had listened to my tape by then so I was on air that weekend! It was worth the crazy move because I learned so much and that's where I picked up my contract voice work from two other girls I worked with in that cluster who referred me. Women need to empower other women in radio and not be jealous. There's room for all of us! I've run into both kinds.
4) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
I'd love a shot at mornings if the chemistry were right. I'm a great storyteller. I'd also like to get MD or APD stripes. Also, I'm good at keeping social media flowing throughout the work day and good at getting in and out of breaks efficiently but still making it fun for the listener. Wow, I sound like a guy in the locker room talking about last night! ;)
5) What's the most unbelievable question you've ever been asked in an interview?
After he asked about my family, he then followed up with, "How did your parents die?"
6) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
Yes, I love radio. It's a free medium to get all the new songs and you can score freebies. I also love to hear a really talented personality and want to stay in my car to hear the end of the bit or story. I love local, too. For instance, when I was battling ants (common in Indiana), I found them in my shower! I shared that they must be red ants and needed to use my color-safe shampoo! So being local is still so good. The Smiley Radio Show, which is local in Indianapolis, makes me want to hear the end of their bits, like "whatchya doin at the courthouse." I actually go to their Soundcloud to hear their edition of "Mean Tweets." It's a great bit!
7) 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?
Yah, I spend a lot of time with my granny. Her character on the radio is G Michaels because she's gangsta, ha. Just the other day we tried the new "Finger Mouthing Selfie" and she flipped the bird ... wrong finger ... but she's 91, she does what she wants! She's hilarious and listeners love her. So I share videos and pictures on social media.
8) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
I was flown to Napa Valley for the Cougar Town junket with TBS. The whole thing just blew my mind. Everything was paid for from the limo to the heated floors in my private suite in Napa Valley! I met Monica from Friends and Jules from Cougar Town! Courteney Cox was so teeny tiny, funny and very polite. I was headed to the bathroom when I noticed she was headed that way but I thought it would be unprofessional to listen to her pee so I waited and she walked by saying she looked forward to the dinner later with me! Also a gal from L.A. radio said she thought my interview was refreshing and genuine as she overheard mine with Courteney Cox.
9) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
I miss making listeners laugh. I miss the listeners who say that I made their work day better. The listeners are my boss. If they are happy then I'm happy. The least was putting in barter spots.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
BE KIND to EVERYONE, from the interns to your bosses. I was friendly and tried to remember the names of everyone. Jennie was an intern at my station WDCG/Raleigh and took a job at the local theatre that had all the great Broadway shows. She remembered I did makeup on the side and asked me to get two Broadway stars ready for a local TV interview. Then she hooked me up for media night to see the shows and when I was in a position to endorse, I endorsed that theatre and was flown to NYC to preview the shows coming the next year!
Do an internship if you can. That gets your foot in the door. Know a little about every department so you can communicate better. Learn production, promotions, sales and traffic etc. so you're not stuck just with on air experience.
Lastly, as a boss once said, be a Clydesdale horse. Look straight ahead and do your job the best you can without allowing others to cut you down. It's a competitive business.
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
"The Secret." There are multiple books in the collection by Rhonda Byrne. It helps turn my negative thoughts into positive thoughts especially while on the beach. I know I am going to experience another great life moment in this next job and I can't wait!