There’s a sense of tranquility when working in the office near Michael Lee. This peaceful guy manages to always be helpful and candid, and that’s one of the many reasons we like to have him around. During his time at the front desk, we relied on him for a variety of projects, which were always completed to satisfaction and beyond. Recently, I was happy to have him start working with the music department, his true passion. I was glad to sit down and get to know Michael, and find out more about him. Did you know he not only volunteers at KCRW, but also works in a restaurant, is a current SMC student, AND helps in his parents’ store? What a multifaceted individual! Get to know Michael with this Q+A:
Where did you grow up and are you an only child?
I was born in Laredo, Texas and moved to California around the age of 5 where I spent most of my life in Orange County. I now reside in Santa Monica. I have 1 older sister who lives in New York at the moment.
What is your current occupation?
I am a server at a restaurant called Nong La in the Little Osaka district on Sawtelle (north of Olympic and south of Santa Monica Blvd). If you ever want delicious fresh Vietnamese food come by.
What is your fantasy occupation?
My fantasy occupation would definitely involve running my own music and arts festival somewhere in a forest, having my own record label, and starting up a venue in Los Angeles that would include music, theatre, and comedy.
When did you first discover KCRW?
One night I was trying to dial the radio into 88.1 KJAZZ and accidentally overshot the landing to 89.9 and heard music that just penetrated my soul in the greatest way. I found out later that the wonderful sounds were courtesy of Menahan Street Band. Greatest accident of my life.
How did you find your way to our station for volunteering?
I told my sister I wanted to get into radio but wasn’t quite sure how or where to begin. Without telling me, she got a hold of Monika Scott somehow and after exchanging a few emails I came in for an interview and was asked to be part of the team. I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity and to be a part of KCRW so thank you sister and more importantly thank you Monika!
What’s your current volunteer position and how long have you been at it?
After volunteering at the front desk for a little over half a year I was asked to help out Eric J. Lawrence in the music library along with just starting out as Travis Holcombe’s production assistant.
Favorite volunteer moment?
It was my first day as a volunteer at the station and nobody was picking up the phone at the moment to let me through the doors. After about 5 minutes of fearing I would never be asked to come back to the station because I was late on my first day, Joseph Ryan from the band POND opened the door and let me in. I stepped into the hall to see loads of instrument cases labeled “TAME IMPALA” and quietly freaked out as I walked to the front office. After my shift I met Nan Lieberman as I was leaving and politely asked her if I could stand from a distance and watch the band that was in the studio (which I now know not to do). I still can’t believe I was lucky enough to catch my favorite band do multiple takes of my favorite songs on my first day at KCRW. Definitely something I will remember for all of eternity. Thank you so much Nan!
If you could get on the mic and say one sentence on the air, what would it be?
“News, music, and culture. I’m Michael Lee and you’re listening to member supported 89.9 KCRW and KCRW.com.”
What song have you hit repeat on lately?
Yikes. It’s absolutely mental for me to pick just one so I’ll pick a few? “One Nine Seven Three” by Dirty Art Club, “J.A.W.S” by Lxury , and finally “Keep On Knocking” by the band Death (It took them 30 years to release their first record. Check out the documentary!)
Favorite book, movie?
I don’t quite read as much as I would like to but one book that changed the way I look at things forever is Invisible Man and I think anything Bret Easton Ellis writes is interesting. As for films, Oldboy, Suspiria, and anything that Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, or Darren Aronofsky does is brilliant.
Favorite thing to do outside the station (hobbies, recreation, etc.)?
I enjoy going to shows, sharing music, going camping whenever I can, and hanging out with friends and playing Settlers of Catan.
What does KCRW mean to you?
I recently saw a quote by Bob Dylan that said “The radio makes hideous sounds”.
KCRW to me isn’t spoon fed information or music. The news and talk programs challenge you and the music is handpicked; A great chunk of my music library is thanks to KCRW. Public radio is a media outlet whose primary goal is public service and the reason I think KCRW is so successful is because it meshes with it’s community by interacting locally while always giving everything it possibly can and the community does a brilliant job giving back to KCRW which creates this wonderful culture of like minded individuals coming together because of a radio station. If only Bob had KCRW.
Michael is on to the next step in his journey at KCRW, and we are all excited to see how he jumps right into the music department! We are happy he has the time to spend hours with KCRW, while doing so many things in his personal life at the same time. Go Michael!