by Kent Sterling
Every high school and college student who wants a career in sportstalk radio should call 1070 the Fan’s Michael Grady and ask for his blueprint. He has built a brand from scratch, and continues to earn the trust of listeners with every opportunity that comes his way.
Michael called my office roughly a decade ago at a time when I was looking for a reliable producer for a complicated show that airs at a tough time. Because he was a college student at Vincennes, I asked him to call me back a week later at a specific time. The thought being that if Michael could remember to call at the right time, there was a chance he would be able to show up for work at the right time.
Indiana Sportstalk with Bob Lovell airs every Friday and Saturday night from August through May from 9:30p to Midnight on Network Indiana. Most college kids are otherwise predisposed on weekend evenings, and the pay for its producer would barely cover the gas from Vincennes to Indy and back. It seemed an odd fit, but Michael called at exactly the right time, and that was enough for me.
He was young and eager with a pleasant voice, and told me he would never miss work. Managers in media should look for more than punctuality and reliability in an employee, but until you have tried to find a part-time board-operator available to fill in on a weekend evening with 30 minutes notice, don’t judge.
Without a person to run the board for a show, there is no show, so getting a person who will show up every single time is like gold. Michael was good to his word, and never missed.
In 2007, I was promoted to launch 1070 the Fan, and knew enough about what the job would be to understand how key a good executive producer would be. There was only one guy in my mind for the job, and that was Michael. We were going to have to be austere in the beginning in areas other than talent, and that would keep us from contracting out an imaging voice (the person whose voice you hear during station promos), so I tapped Michael for that too.
I needed a producer for the only local show the station would have initially, so Michael became the producer for Kravitz & Eddie. When we did a deal to broadcast the Wooden Tradition basketball event from Conseco Fieldhouse, I wondered what Michael would sound like. Almost as a dare I assigned that to him, and he was typically excellent.
The Pacers called one day and asked if I knew anyone who might want the job of entertaining the crowd during timeouts and at halftime. I told them I had their guy. Michael was really good at that too, and parlayed the gig into being the PA voice for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, and now the Pacers.
After my time at 1070 the Fan came to an end, Michael got the job of co-hosting 10a-12p with Joe Staysniak, and guess what, not only has he become really good as a host, he works his ass off to get better every day.
If you or your kid wants to build a successful career in the media, it’s done the way Michael has done it. He has said yes to every challenge, prepares as best he can, and then executes with focus, energy, and a sense of fun.
The process hasn’t been quick or easy, but with every yes, and every positive result, he built trust. With trust, a brand emerges. Brands are valuable.
Michael Grady’s brand is that of a congenial, fearless, and professional broadcaster. It took years for that brand to emerge and drive better and better assignments.
Those responsibilities will continue to come for Michael because in a business filled with self-impressed people who want theirs, he can be trusted to do a great job regardless of the role he fills.
There is one common trait in everyone I know who has built a sustained career – diligence. Michael showed up on time every time in an entry level gig, so he earned more and more and more responsibility to the point where his faith has delivered his dream – a successful career.
The secret to getting ahead in media is that there is no secret. Hard work, willingness to learn and adapt, talent, and a sense of humor draw attention and drive trust.
I dared Michael to prove me wrong about him again and again, and every time he came up roses. He’s now one of the best young talents in all of radio, and those lonely miles from Vincennes to Indy will pay off a thousand times over.
If you haven’t caught Grady and Big Joe on 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis and 1070thefan.com from 10a-12p (ET), you should. Click here to listen to a great guy living a dream he paid for with a decade of busting his ass. As with all good media content providers, he’s a good follow on Twitter too @mg_indy.