I have been in the broadcast industry since 1974, when I started attending Ashland College, and professionally since 1977, when I began my career at WNCO AM/FM in Ashland, Ohio.
Over the years, like many others in the business, I have gone by a variety of “On Air” names.
For me, a last name of Marchinuke is not really user friendly, especially if you want listeners to remember you when it comes to rating book time.
Or you want to keep the…..special…..listeners who get a little too…..close…..to their favorite radio personality away (See “Play Misty For Me”).
Or you’re trying to avoid the law, or at minimum ex wives, and their lawyers.
I started out as “Mike Patrick” (Patrick being the go to middle name), which I use to this day.
In no particular order, I have also been “Mister Mike In The Morning,” Mister Mikey In The Morning,” Big Mike Patrick/Big Mike In The Morning” and for a short while “Boomer” (when I was working for an Oldies station, a tribute to my idol and main influence, Boom Boom Brannigan, a mainstay at WPTR in Albany NY when I was growing up).
But one name, and honest to God I have NO reason to understand why, has stuck with me for what now has become THIRTY YEARS!
Good God almighty am I old..
That name was/is Shadow Michaels.
And I didn’t even come up with it.
Late Summer/early Fall 1986, I’m working in Elyria-Cleveland, Ohio, and circumstances warranted me looking for another job.
(In truth, I was taken off the Morning Show on a (somewhat) Top 40 FM station and put on nights on an automated AM Beautiful Music station.)
The Program Director was a douche bag who wanted the Morning Show for himself and his large breasted slut girlfriend, and thought this would inspire me to look elsewhere.
It worked, and as a bonus, D Bag and Barbie failed in less than six months.
I had always wanted to “come back home” and achieve some success in my chosen field among my chosen people.
Uh…well you know what I mean…
Fate would have it, there was a job opening for a night show host at Top 40 FLY 92 in Albany.
At this time, FLY was in what I call a period of transition, it’s better days were soon to come.
I was hired by Program Director Steve “The Magic” Christian, and on a Wednesday morning in October, 1986, I showed up for my first day of work.
Steve told me two things right away….(this was at 10 AM)…..learn everything I can cuz I am on the air THAT VERY NIGHT at 7!
For those who don’t know, and this was years before computers, and working for a Top 40 station formatted station was/is one of the hardest things to master, that’s a boat load to learn and be ready to execute in less than 9 hours.
Steve also said, you’ll be following Michael Morgan, so you can’t be Mike Patrick, you need a new name by 7 tonight.
Damn, damn, damn.
So I sat with Mid Day personality Pete Clark and Afternoon Drive personality Michael (now Mike) Morgan, writing down everything they told me, hoping I would remember it all.
And I was scared shitless the whole time.
Around 5 Christian came up to me, and told me to grab some dinner, be back by 6:30.
I told him I was too busy learning how to do my job to even start to think about a new name.
Steve said he called all around to all of his contacts, and was given a suggestion based on a guy who was starting to make some major movement in the field, Shadoe Stevens.
And that’s how Shadow Michaels came about.
A pause for a moment in regard to Shadoe Stevens.
At one point he was the “voice” on “Hollywood Squares”, and eventually take over from Casey Kasum as host of “American Top 40”.
The Promotions people came up with a real easy tie in involving that guy and me.
I’m guessing SOMEONE would come as Shadoe, but WHO would want to dress as Shadow?
In fact, he was the ONLY one who came dressed up as either of us, so he won by default. This picture was taken after the fact, the night of the contest, he DID dress like me, and combed his hair as I did.
So here comes 7 PM, don’t know how I did it but I did.
The more I did it, the more I liked it, and apparently the more the listeners liked it.
And I was stunned with it all.
I did NOTHING new, original, out of the ordinary.
My personal influences were the “Boss Jock” personality based DJ’s I listened to in the 60’s and early 70’s.
I took what they did, put an 80’s spin on it, and people thought it was something brand new.
I knew better.
At this point Christian had moved on, another PD came in (no names), and never bothered me, well he was too busy with alleged payola stuff going on, he didn’t last long.
My greatest success as Shadow was due to one guy, Todd Pettengill.
Todd was not only hosting the Morning Show then, he was now running the whole joint.
Todd trusted me to do my thing, he allowed me to open up and say/do anything to make a splash (within FCC guidelines, of course).
I would start every show with the open to the old “Shadow” radio show…you know, the one that always ended with “The Shadow Knows.”
Then I created a label that has stuck with a lot of folks all these years later.
“The Crier Of Desire, The Dove Of Love, The Bust Of Lust, The Mighty Party Beast Of The Great Northeast!”
No I still don’t get it either but they bought it.
The Night Show on FLY had two regular elements in it, “The Top Ten At Ten,” and “The Love Line.”
Boys and girls, this was when radio was LIVE 24/7/365, no computers, the compact discs were just starting, no voice tracking, no digital editors (splicing tape and razors baby).
Everything, music, station imaging, commercials, were all on carts (kids-Google 8 tracks).
We had 3 or maybe 4 cart decks, which meant we had to be quick on our toes at all times, which meant taking/recording calls (and in those days, for a Top 40 Night Show, meant NO let up on calls all night), and editing calls for air later on, leaving time for a quick sandwich and occasional smoke.
So when we said the Top Ten was a listener driven show, WE MEANT IT! I wrote down EVERY request called in, which I feel made the show special and unique.
As for the Love Line, my goal was to treat EVERY call, no matter how young and (to some) meaningless it was, with equal respect.
If a 12 year called me, heartbroken, to say his girlfriend dumped him after 6 1/2 days, I aired it, letting him send out “You Give Love A Bad Name” to that heartless bitch.
During that time, I had a chance to go with listeners to see concerts
I did the TV rounds during telethon times.
And on occasion, get freaky for Halloween.
I was also the first person to wear the FLY 92 Eagle Mascot suit
All good things had to change eventually, and in time the on air gig became a part time thing, and I transitioned to become the station Promotions Director, but my…..maturity level…did not change as I became a part of management…
In 1991, FLY 92 and I parted ways, and I was working full time out of the field, keeping my hand in the business as an instructor at the local broadcasting school.
Here comes 1997, and circumstances led me BACK to FLY 92 as a weekend/part time fill in host, and it was Deja Vu all over again.
Now it’s time to thank Mike Morgan and Rob Dawes for welcoming me back again with open arms. I had a blast.
That lasted about a year and a half, till I moved to the Country station down the hall, and eventually leaving the area for new radio opportunities.
The last time I was officially Shadow was in December 1999. I was on vacation and stopped in to say hi. Mike and Rob asked me a favor; they planning an “End Of The Millennium Top Ten At Ten,” would I consider being a “Guest Host” for that night.
As I used to say, ” Howdy hi, howdy ho, Shadow’s back on the radio.”
The night guy at the time, Joey Kidd, has since gone on to do simply AMAZING things in the business. That night he asked to sit in with me.
I wasn’t feeling my best that night, but I decided to still go balls to the wall.
It was PHENOMENAL during that countdown, I brought back all the old schtick and goofiness.
Joey asked me to stay on air a bit longer with him, I was honored.
In a way it was like passing the torch.
So why do I make such a thing about a character I haven’t played in going on 17 years?
I’m amazed to say people won’t let him go.
When I was a kid, guys like Boomer and his comrades were my idols, they WERE the mountain top.
I’m just some dumb fat guy who got lucky being paid to be an asshole on the air.
But I guess I made SOME sort of impact.
I have people TO THIS DAY who can quote shit I did on the air 30 years ago.
I forgot what I had for breakfast this morning.
And even though my name, on air and in real life is Mike, there are STILL people who call me Shadow to this day, they say they can’t call me any other name.
I am touched beyond words.
It’s just a shame personality driven radio has gone down the toilet.
My kind of radio “doesn’t work anymore.”
They say it’s “old fashioned”.
They say it’s “out dated”.
They say “no one wants to hear that anymore”.
But given the chance, the Crier is ready to prove them all wrong…