Appearance at Mike Sakellarides' Traffic Class, Fullerton College

From L.A. Radio dot com, November 2008

Pay It Forward. “I recently had the pleasure of guest-lecturing for Mike Sakellarides's radio class at Fullerton College and realized that having reached 40, I do have some knowledge to impart – haven’t ever been able to imagine teaching in any way, even for a day, but we had a blast,” emailedCindi Burkey.

”Mike has some young people in his class who seem to meet the requirement for being on the radio; pure and total insanity – just kidding,” Cindi continued. “What I mean is, these people seem like they genuinely are enchanted by the magic of radio. Two of the guys had been, since they were kids, fascinated with traffic and maps. One of them grew up riding shotgun with his mom, who had a poor sense of direction; he would use maps to figure out where they should go, and direct her. That turned into an enthusiasm for maps, and an interest in traffic, which led him to this class.”   

Cindi talked about the eclectic mix of interests in those taking radio classes. “One guy told us a story about meeting a radio celebrity whom he admired, until the person, [won’t name] upon hearing of his interest in radio, told him: ‘you don’t have the face, the look, you should forget it.’ Nice. Thankfully, this student didn't forget it. I liked what he wrote for his weekend report, which Fullerton College’s station airs, to give information about what events are going on in California on any given weekend. ‘Did your candidate win this week?  If so, let’s party! Or if not, let’s party anyway!’"  

”Another guy is a pilot and was able to time his 60 second report to the millisecond,” Cindi continued. “The one woman in the class actually has radio experience and a cheery presence; there’s a young man with a very atypical but seductive voice, but the problem is he speaks very quickly, either out of nervousness or habit. Mike is working with him to slow him down, and, while I was there, showed him how best to breathe, had him stand up, adjusted his posture, and pointed out that the previous guest speaker had also said he had a nice voice.”

Cindi reflected on how much work and practice there is to get rid of vocal habits that get in the way of sounding good. “I just told him to record himself and listen to himself, aircheck himself as much as possible, and keep working to slow himself down and get into a rhythm that will showcase his voice and personality,” said Cindi. “I told them I still aircheck myself almost every day. I also told them to find someone whose on-air style they admired, and listen to them; and, just to listen to as much radio as possible. It’s one thing to get in front of a mic, another to listen; I think a good radio person has to do both, to be able to take the mic and be a presence, and to be able to listen to all the nuances you hear in a world of only sound.” (Sakellarides in back row second from the left. AirWatch vp Don Bastida kneeling)

”These guys are very lucky to have Mike, because he is a really enthusiastic and thorough teacher,” said Cindi in praising Sakellarides. “He puts so much energy and genuine concern into his class, and teaches them honestly about the challenges faced by those who make a living in radio – the massive layoffs that seem to lurk around every corner these days, the increasing use of voice tracks, and disappearing on-air jobs in small and medium markets, to make way for automation. So these guys will come out of this class with about as clear an idea of working in radio as you could possibly get. Mike is also very supportive and spends time with each student, working on their sound. If I were starting out, it would be just killer to be in Mike’s class – I can’t imagine a better introduction to radio. I’ll be curious to know what happens to all these guys.  Whatever their future is, they’ve got a great mentor in Mike. Hats off.”  

Mike Sakellarides


l-r Josh Rottschaefer, Sam Hiebert, Cindi Burkey, Daniel Ramirez, Gil Scarnecchia, Kathy Moses, Shawn Ruegge. Absent: Michael Jenkins.