Mike "Mikey" Esparza of FM/949
In December 2009, listeners of Rock 105.3 were rocked (pun intended) when the highly rated "Mikey Show" was dismantled by Clear Channel Communications, releasing Mike "Mikey" Esparza from the station. His supporting cast, consisting of Eddie, Sky, "Boston Rob" and Ashley, stayed aboard and launched "The Show," with new host Mike Costa. Meanwhile, Esparza locked in a deal at FM94/9, assembled a new crew and is set to return to the airwaves this Monday, Feb. 1, at 6 a.m.
In an industry where a record amount of major talent has been beached (e.g., Dave, Shelly, & Chainsaw; Jeff & Jer), Mikey's return to the radio is quite impressive. Additionally, it's a huge step for FM/949. Launched in 2002 under the mantra of being "about the music," hiring a four-hour talk show certainly contradicts their mission statement. However, following "The Mikey Show," the station returns to regular programming with a solid lineup that includes Hilary, Tommy Hough and my personal favorite show, "Swami" with John Reis.
Knowing Mike Esparza on and off the air for many, many years, here's a recent e-mail exchange about the big move:
SoundDiego: First of all, congratulations on the new opportunity. What excites you the most about working at FM94/9?
Mikey: Oh man, I'm really more nervous than excited. It's like I'm starting all over again, from scratch. I've described it like moving to a new high school where you know the kids are smart and good-looking and cool, and you just wanna fit in because you're not that cool and you're chubby. I really do want to succeed though, and I'm driven by that.
SoundDiego: Being a talk show, how do you respond to the FM/949 listener that is "about the music"?
Mikey: Well, first, I can totally understand, and where they're coming from. The position of the radio station has been that they tried music in the morning for some time and it wasn't as succesful as they had hoped for, and they felt that a change was needed. I also realize that there are some listeners who won't listen to a talk show no matter what, but for those that are on the fence, I hope they give us a chance.
SoundDiego: You officially start Monday. Tell us about your new supporting cast.
Mikey: I basically set out to find a group of people that, if we were at a resteraunt, you'd want to be at our table because we're having so much fun. The first time we got together was at a resteraunt, and we gelled instantly. The dinner lasted five hours. We got there at 5 p.m. and left at 10 p.m. We could have stayed longer. We genuinely enjoy being around one another, and you can feel it.
SoundDiego: As far as content, what will carry over and what changes do you anticipate?
Mikey: That's what is so crazy. These people are so talented that when we started talking about stuff, we just started pouring out all these new ideas. I still have plenty of stuff that I will re-work from the old show to make it new, but it's the same brand. If it were a resteraunt, it's a lot of new menu items with the same flavor as before.
SoundDiego: You've been off the radio for over a month. What did you learn about yourself during your time off?
Mikey: I learned that anything can happen and, often, will. I've learned that change can be good and that God is in control and where He leads me, I will go.