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Wisconsin Media Series: Mike Heller

Mike Heller graciously kicked off our Wisconsin Media Series today with an interview about his experiences, career path, stories about talking with Bart Starr, the Packers and Badgers chances this fall, the Bucks arena issue, and more.

Below are some of the highlights from the interview.

In reference to his influences in radio and reflecting on his desire to be a baseball player, Heller said (3:00 mark):

“I think when I was growing up I was heavily influenced by Doucette and Uecker…If I wasn’t going to be the person they were talking about, I wanted to be the person talking about them.”

Heller talked a lot about how social media has changed how sports are broadcasted. (6:00 mark)

“Our industry now lives in social media. News break not on the radio or television, but on Twitter. And, then we follow up the breaking news that finds it’s way on to Twitter, and then we broadcast it.”

In terms of advice for those looking to get into sports media, Mike talked about the difference between breaking into the industry back when he was interning in comparison to now. He mentioned the importance of utilizing blogs, websites, and podcasts as talent seekers are looking for talent in several types of avenues. He mentioned that producers, managers, and other employers will typically listen to podcasts, blogs, and more upon request to find talent. (7:00 mark)

“You have to want to. you have to find that direction. Internships are still, I believe, paramount to getting where you want to go. It’s those people that can help you open the doors…If you have the want to, go ahead and find that path.”

One of the best parts of the interview came about from a question I asked about who Mike would want to interview if he could choose any athlete, coach, broadcaster, executive, etc., and he said he feels he has interviewed most of the people he has wanted to. But, he had some great stories about his favorite interview from a few years ago about the possibility of another Ice Bowl: back-to-back interviews with Bart and Cherry Starr followed by his father. He recalled how awesome it is that whenever he calls the Starr family home, they always pick up or call back.

“I don’t know anyone that has Brett Favre’s home number. I don’t know anyone that has Aaron Rodgers’ home or cell number in our business. But, that’s the way Bart Starr is.”

Heller interviewed both Bart and Cherry Starr about their experience at the original Ice Bowl, and he called Bart the most respected athlete he’s ever visited with. The next segment, he talked to his dad (the only time he’s ever had him on) because his dad was at the Ice Bowl so he wanted to get that perspective of somebody who went to the game. He followed up saying that Starr was his first interview when he was 11 or 12. (10:00 mark)

“I asked one of the questions asking what the toughest part of the job [coaching] unrelated to football was, and he said cutting players and telling players they wouldn’t be on the Green Bay Packers. That was my first media question, and it was to Bart Starr.”

In terms of the Packers chances this season, Heller believes the Packers are the best team in the NFL and they need to get the #1 seed in the NFC. He called them the favorite to at least win the NFC, but they’re an injury away from being affected. (15:30 mark)

“They need to be good and healthy, and right now they’re the best team I think in the NFL.”

Heller said a year ago Aaron Rodgers told reporters in the Packers locker room that he has 9 years left, so it makes sense that he said today he has 8 years left. He affirmed Rodgers is the best, and he will lead them with vengeance after the debacle in Seattle in the NFC Championship similar to how the San Antonio Spurs came back to win the NBA Championship in 2014, the year after Ray Allen sunk the famous three in Game 6. (17:30 mark)

In terms of the Badgers, Heller believes Corey Clement and Joel Stave will need great offensive line play from more than Dan Voltz and Tyler Marz. We talked about their tough opener against Alabama and the rest of their weak schedule besides Nebraska and Minnesota. Mike believes the Badgers will win the West. (19:00 mark)

“Offensively, there are a lot of question marks, but defensively they have a potential to be a lockdown defense. Vince Biegel is outstanding, Michael Caputo is great, Tanner McEvoy is good, their corners are athletic and experienced.”

Lastly, we discussed the Bucks arena issue. Heller affirmed that he believes the right thing happened. He said it’s great for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and the Bucks have great owners and talent with an arena coming. (22:00 mark)

“We’ll get to talk about the Bucks…and it will be good to talk about the team and not the building they are going to play in.”

You can listen to Mike on The Mike Heller Show every weekday from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Madison on The Big 1070, Milwaukee on The Big 920, Eau Claire on Sports Radio 1400 and in Wausau on Sports Fan 100.5. You can also follow him on Twitter @HellerSports and The Mike Heller Show @MikeHellerShow.

Next week, Dennis Krause will be our guest. Krause is the color commentator for the Milwaukee Bucks radio and hosts Sports32 Roundtable and The Dennis Krause Show on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel. He is a five-time winner of the NSSA Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year award.

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