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Three Questions with Mike Lee

Senior producer Mike Lee's fingerprints are on most of the features you hear on KUT 90.5.

Senior producer Mike Lee has been working at KUT since his days as an English major at the University of Texas at Austin.

His fingerprints are all over the features you hear on KUT 90.5. From Arts Eclectic, to our Get Involved series, to Sonic IDs and the Austin-based StoryCorps features, Mike is the man behind the curtain interviewing people at the studio and out in the field, writing scripts, and putting it all together to tell interesting stories that connect listeners to our community.

Several years ago, he featured a young dancer on Arts Eclectic, the weekly segment that highlights local arts and artists that typically fly under the radar. This dancer was so impressed by Mike’s interviewing skills that she up and married him. Now they enjoy traveling, following their creative whims and spending time with their dogs.

Get to know Mike Lee:

What are you listening to these days?
I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts on my commute. One of my favorites is Judge John Hodgman, in which the author and comedian serves as what he calls a “fake internet judge,” settling disputes between friends or family members in a non legally binding but highly entertaining way. A recent episode featured singer/songwriter Aimee Mann as a guest, and that led me to check out The Art of Process, a new podcast that she’s started up with co-host Ted Leo. It’s got a very straightforward format – each episode features a different guest (comedians, musicians, directors, etc.), and the three of them just sit around and talk about how they create their art. The conversations are much more about discussing the artistic process than promoting the final product, and I’ve found them to be insightful and interesting.

Read anything interesting lately?
I wish this wasn’t the case, but I probably spend most of my reading time looking at news stories on the internet, which is a very stress-inducing thing to do these days. And, since I share a name with the senior U.S. Senator from Utah, it can also be weird, like when I saw the headline “Mike Lee Has Lost His Damn Mind” show up in my newsfeed just the other day. That’s an article about Mike Lee standing up in Congress and using pictures of Luke Skywalker and Aquaman to argue against the Green New Deal, which – no matter how you feel about the Green New Deal, Aquaman, or Luke Skywalker – seems like an unusual thing to do. Do people from my old high school think that was me doing that? Probably not, but maybe, which makes me pretty glad I’m not on Twitter.

When I’m looking to reduce stress rather than induce stress, I turn to my old friend the comic book. I’ve been a comics fan all my life, and these days, the book I most look forward to every month is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by writer Ryan North and artist Derek Charm (who recently took over for departing artist Erica Henderson). It’s fun, it’s hopeful, and it’s joyful, and I like fun and hope and joy so I like this book.

What are you loving about the ATX lately?
What I’m loving about ATX lately is what I’ve loved about the city for a long time (and  what I love about my job), which is that there are so many people here that are excited and passionate about so many different things. A large part of my job is talking with people about what they love; it might be an artist ready to unveil their latest painting or play or installation, or a native Austinite remembering the homemade roller skates he built decades ago, or a group of volunteers who are working to help refugees, or a bunch of people who get together every week to practice clogging. The common thread is that they all care so much about what they care about. I don’t think that’s a quality unique to Austin, actually – at least I hope it’s not – but that energy and excitement is inspiring to be around.

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