Thursdays with Mike

By Brook


It is 7:15 when Mike arrives for the weekly podcast he records at my house aka Young Angels Network. His pizza is almost out of the oven, and I have one cold beer ready. A thirty-one-year-old guy shouldn’t have to do a podcast on an empty stomach after working all day.

He says the girls-- his high school co-hosts, aren’t going to be with him this time-- something about spring break.

The thing about Mike is that he does everything anyway, so he can fly solo. There is no engineer, no cameraperson, no producer, other than me, and I’m mostly a cheerleader.

I think I’ll sit beside him in the #1 co-host chair just to watch him in motion. Tonight I learn something about him that I thought was a pretty cool lesson in success. He always teaches me something.

This is the routine when he gets to the house. He whirls in, usually wearing a tie. I'm in slippers. I get a hug. He sits down at the desk. He unfurls the microphones, plugs stuff in, starts pulling audio clips from somewhere on line, checks on breaking news.

Tonight, I remind him about what I thought was the most important news of the day, which is that Taiwan has finally stopped allowing people to eat dogs. Yay.

He sets up his phone so he can broadcast on Facebook Live while he’s recording, prints out his notes, eats pizza, sips beer, checks levels and has a full-on conversation with me about the MOAB at the same time as he is talking to his followers on Facebook.

The only thing different about tonight is that I have our guest dog staying with us. Moose is a young, blonde Labrador. He is staying in the adjacent guest room, in the dark, unaccompanied, while his mommy is out shooting a documentaray. He likes lounging on the bed, in the pillows. He’s a good boy dog, but he doesn’t really understand the part about being quiet while recording is going on.

The start time of 8:15 arrives. Mike cues the intro music and starts the show. But there is something with the microphone that annoys him, an echo. So he stops. And restarts. And he does this three times all together, changing out microphones in mid-stream, mocking himself on screen, and charging ahead until he’s back on track.

I see that Moose has left the guest room and is now standing between us looking at the screen like he’s the producer, and I think, well, that’s cute and he’s a good boy.

Then Moose gets bored, and a little irritated that no one is telling him what a stunning dog he is, and he returns to the bedroom. Mike moves on to economics, and I’m hoping he’s going to get in the bit about Taiwan and the dogs, and I’m trying to dredge up a joke about a backstreet dish called “Dog Yar Hop,” and wonder if I can somehow get that in.

It’s just then that I hear a squeaking sound, sort of like a European siren, or the death throes of a rodent, and Mike snaps, “Can you shut that damn dog up,” and back in the microphone he says, “We’ve got a dog in the house,” and he laughs and riffs about our low-end, grass-roots “studio”.

Meanwhile, I fly to the guest room and fling myself on top of Moose like he’s a bomb, and I’m a first responder, and I pull the squeaking porpoise from his jaws. I feel bad that my hostessing didn’t include pawcuffing Moose to my bed.

Back in my seat, I’m calm again when all of a sudden, we get a caller on the Skype line. Mike and I look at each other. It has taken us forever to figure out how to get call-ins, and now we have one. Please like us, please like us.

Just for a second, Mike gets flustered as he remembers how the call in works. On the other end, the caller likes the show and tells Mike to keep on going, and we are both so happy to have a caller. One.

Finally as we near the end, to throw me a bone, Mike decides to drop in the bit about Taiwan, and I get to say something about how happy Moose will be now that he can travel in Taiwan without danger of being eaten.

Then it’s 9:15 and the show is over. As usual, Mike listens to the recording right away and criticizes the not-so-good stuff while I tell him he’s great and should run for office.

“You’re not scared to be perfect,” I say. “I learned that about you tonight, and that’s what your real talent is.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” he said. “I for sure know how to be not perfect,” but we’re both really happy about the show and the call-in and laugh. It is so happening.

I realize that the thing with Mike is that he likes to jump off cliffs for the sheer sport of it. He doesn’t know for sure if he is going to crash or fly, but either is okay with him, as long as he gets to jump. And he lets himself jump because he is always prepared with his facts. If the mechanics are less than perfect-- so what?

Note to self: Jump more. Be perfect less.

Sometimes Mike reminds me of Moose, which I love telling him. He hasn’t quite grown into his large paws but knows he is on the way to becoming a truly big dog-- meaning Mike is rapidly becoming a popular, young L.A. Democrat.

Tonight, I get a glimpse of where he’s going, even though he says he’s not candidate material because he's got a big mouth.

YA thinks otherwise, which is why we are so excited to sponsor Mike's trip to Sacramento for the California Young Democrats Convention.

Just had to share Thursday nights at my house and how grateful I am I get to spend them with Mike Riley. I learn something new about politics and life from him every week. Yours in peace, Brook Dougherty. Listen here: