So between the time you were filling in for Michael Jackson, it was 1984?
MICHAEL: I was doing the boat racing. We did that race in honor of a young girl, Alex Deford. You know, Frank Deford the writer? We did it in honor of his daughter, Alex, who died of Cystic Fibrosis at 8 years of age. And ABC 20/20 covered it. Tom Brokaw was in the boat. We raised $250,000 for Cystic Fibrosis. Largest fundraiser they had ever had. So it worked out really well. We did a Juvenile Diabetes run back East; we did a run for the Statute of Liberty Foundation, Miami and New York.
TONY: So you did that from 1983 to 1987?
MICHAEL: So I did that basically from 1983 to 1987, got out in 1987 and was guest hosting radio shows and doing that kind of stuff until 1989 when I got the call.
TONY: How did you get the guest hosting spots?
MICHAEL: Because I would call people – I called radio stations, sent them my tapes. Always a good idea to keep your tapes. So I would send my tapes and you know, some people would bite. A station in San Diego actually had me in for three weeks guest hosting. At the beginning of the three weeks, they said they didn’t have a spot, and at the end of three weeks, they offered me a job.
TONY: So you did it all yourself – you didn’t have an agent or anything?
MICHAEL: Didn’t really have an agent, you know what agents do. Agents say, “Call me when you get the job, and I’ll take 10 percent.”
TONY: That’s right. When you get a job, sign up with me. [Laughter]
MICHAEL: So that’s basically how I got into talk radio. I campaigned for my dad in 1976 and 1980.
TONY: Did you ever consider being a lobbyist since your dad was President?
MICHAEL: No, I really didn’t. I never thought about that. Never even thought about it.
TONY:?That’s how all these guys make money now.
MICHAEL:?Yeah, boy did I blow it. No, I didn’t really think about it. I mean I was doing what I was doing in sales.
TONY: Knowing what I know about your dad, he probably wouldn’t have put up with that anyway.
MICHAEL: No, he wouldn’t have – he absolutely wouldn’t have. It’s not going to happen in my family. But, no, I campaigned – I say on my radio to this day, there are a lot of radio talk show hosts who talk about politics and campaigning, but there’s really only one of them who has actually walked all the precincts, actually knocked on all the doors, who has actually been in winning campaigns, who really gets it and understands it. So I look at things through the eyes of somebody who really has been there – whether it’s the gubernatorial races of the 1960s and early 1970s, Presidential race in 1976 or 1980 or 1984, you know, the perspective that I bring to these things is completely different than what anybody else does, and I kind of shake my head sometimes when I hear all of these people re-casting my father in their own image or likeness.
TONY: Yes, I bet you do. How do you keep your mouth shut?
TONY:?Yeah, that’s why you have your radio show.
MICHAEL:?I really don’t – I have a column I write every week; thereagan.com.
TONY:?For News Max?
MICHAEL:?It’s on News Max, but it goes to about 400 newspapers. And it’s on – Human Events carries it, News Max covers it, Worldwide Daily gets that.
TONY:?How did you get that?
MICHAEL: A group out of Kagel Cartoons actually is the syndicator. They do a lot of stuff besides cartoons, and I was one of their first people coming on. Now they have about 400 newspapers – I make no money on it, but it’s all about branding.
TONY:?You don’t make money on it?
MICHAEL:?I make a few bucks, but not that much.
TONY: I thought syndicated columns made a lot?
MICHAEL:?Not anymore – too much competition. The Internet kills you. I mean, before the papers get it, the Internet’s got it all over the place.
TONY: Does Garthwiathe (editor of Newsmax) pay you anything?
MICHAEL: Not that much, but I look at it more as a billboard. It’s just branding. You’re out there. People think, “Where are you?” I’m still there. I put my column up and send it out to news outlets every week.
TONY: How do you do that?
MICHAEL:?Just e-mail it to them. E-mail it to ABC, NBC, CBS box, CNN.
TONY: Whether they want it or not?
MICHAEL: Whether they wanted it or not and sometimes – what I’d do because I do a lot of CNN and FOX, a lot of times it will be because of my column or they’ll ask me a question based on that column.
TONY:?Do you get paid for being a Fox news analyst?
MICHAEL: I used to get paid on that, and then they dropped me as a contributor, which is probably good because it allows me now to do CNN and the other outlets, rather than just Fox.
TONY: Are you on “Reliable Sources?”
MICHAEL: No, I haven’t been on there. That’s really interesting because that’s a weekend show though. See, I made a promise to my wife on January 20, 1989, when my dad went. I looked at her and I said “done my last weekend unless you say it is okay.” Because I laugh at both parties always talking about the children and the family; how both parties are for the family, but neither one of the parties want you home on weekends. They’ve always got an event for you to go to, and if you don’t stop it, it never ends. So I can actually count on three fingers how many weekends I’ve done since that time. And I do, if Colleen okays it. A couple of years ago, I was doing an interview with the L.A. Times. And, my daughter Ashley was with me there doing some stuff in my office when she walked in and the L.A. Times reporter looked at her and said, “Tell me something about your dad, right now, that you think I need to know but I don’t know.” And Ashley looked at her and said, “He saves weekends for the family.”