Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
Ranking high among Portland’s media darlings, Michele Michaels, known formerly as “Kiss N Tell With Michele,” and now “Michele Til Midnight” on 99.5 The Wolf, not only brings the fabulous voice, but also a life force that is joyful, quick to laugh. . . and a wit you’d better watch out for.
“I’m the nonstop talking version of — well, if Tony Soprano and Suzanne Sugarbaker paired, I would be the outcome. But really, my mother was a North Carolina girl and my father was a classic Italian New Yoakah . . . they met on a park bench in DC, and I’m a little bit of both.”
There’s more. “I’m a little bit hillbilly/southern girl, and kind of a hippie in my soul — I was born a little late.” Indeed, she isn’t the least materialistic. In fact, as the lead writer for this series until retiring recently, when told she needed to identify “the shoe” that personified each of her subjects, she drew a blank.
Her preferred footwear? “Barefoot,” she says. “I like being barefoot as much as possible. And you know that thing: what shoes go with what outfits? Yeah . . . makes my head explode.”
Growing up, Michele says her biggest problem was that she wanted to be . . . everything. “I wanted to be a Broadway star . . . and a veterinarian — a little disparate,” she laughs.
Studying communications, she saw her future in TV. “Until I found out they don’t hire fat girls,” she says. A friend suggested radio, and soon she was on her way.
“I love radio. It’s nonstop, dynamic, and ever changing. Also a little insecure, so you have to be able to handle that. But it had all the things I love: writing, talking, music. And it has a little show biz sheen to it, which I like.”
Over the years, that love has grown, thanks to giving Michele a platform for her greatest love: animals, specifically dogs, and more specifically, senior, homeless, and dogs in need.
“It’s the main reason I stay on the air,” she explains, “and my job has morphed recently so I’m on the air less, and actually spending more time as a copy writer and content manager. But I love The Wolf, I love to help, and I love the platform it’s given me to help animals.”
A consummate pro, Michele nevertheless does have a most embarrassing on-air moment. “I was working at The Wolf in Seattle, and said not one, but two swear words on air,” she laughs. An awaited email arrived (or so she thought). Discovering it wasn’t the one she was waiting for and thinking the mic was off, she exclaimed “s+*@!” And then “G%+()d@%m!”
“But the mic was on. The 14th largest market in the US — ugh!” While she got “a couple of nasty grams from unhappy moms, I got one great message: a guy told me, ‘I used to like you for your sexy voice, but now I know you talk like a truck driver and I want you to have my babies!’”
In her free time Michele enjoys time with her husband Bryon Sinclair, a cat named Roxanne, 13-year-old Bailey, a 22 lb Shitzu mix who’s been with them six months; 15-year-old Lucy, a 19 lb Maltese mix; and 68 lb Cindy, an 11-year-old paraplegic Pit who Michele softly adds may not be with them too much longer.
Snapping back to her usual bouncing cadence she adds this about Roxanne the cat. “I don’t speak of her because she’s become my husband’s girlfriend. I rescued her from a dumpster! But nope! Since he arrived — we’ve been married six years — I just do not exist.”
Michele also loves to hike, swim, and is an avid reader (she just finished 10th of December, a collection of short stories by George Saunders, Signature of All Things by Elizabeth GIlbert and Katherine Boo’s Behind Beautiful Forevers, about “life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity.” She also enjoys the occasional graphic novel.
So how does a southern belle/mafia-style Italian babe raised in Virginia to age 13 and then Florida to age 26 find her way to Oregon?
“Honest to god, radio brought me to Oregon,” she says, explaining that while she loves the south, it doesn’t really fit her. ”Southern women are magnolia flowers — beautiful. Also, I tend to be fairly liberal. I love to visit the south, and they have some great biscuits . . . but living there was untenable for me.”
So after clocking some radio hours in her 20s, Michele sent demos to west coast stations, getting interviews for one in Alaska and one in Medford, Oregon. “I didn’t take the job in Alaska. They had a cable access music review show, and let me know they ‘wanted someone more telegenic.’”
Michele acquired acreage in Medford and stayed for 10 years. “I fostered over 50 dogs and the same number of cats and kittens over the years. I even served as interim shelter manager for a year . . . but then I had to get back to radio to make a real living.”
When asked what one thing about her might surprise people, Michele says “I’m a picky eater. While I look like I inhale food, I don’t like eggs, beans, asparagus, avocados, seafood, mayo . . . most condiments, or oatmeal. I guess it’s a texture thing — I don’t like anything creamy or slimy. I’m a southern girl and I don’t like gravy!”
Clearly it’s more than texture. Michele says she was an adult before discovering that vegetables and fruits could be crunchy. “My mom was from the south, so everything was overcooked . . . in lard. But while she wasn’t a great cook, she was an amazing baker.”
Which explains Michele’s recent call for support on Facebook while suffering a monster donut jones. Currently making healthy changes in her professional and personal life, Michele says while it’s not her way to ask for support, that recent post helped a lot. “I didn’t eat that donut.”
“Walking through life in this body has made me extra sensitive to how people choose who they’re with,” says Michele, explaining why she is drawn to the one thing she loves more than food: dogs. Especially senior dogs. “They have ailments, and don’t look great. I volunteer occasionally for Family Dogs New Life, but my heart is with Fences For Fido, and I do as much as I can. I love working to keep dogs in good homes, and most of them are good homes . . . they just don’t have resources. I love helping keep dogs in loving homes and out of shelters.”
While billed as a “nonstop talker,” you just don’t tire of hearing this girl, undoubtedly one reason for her enduring success. In fact, this writer has blatantly ignored (and blown) the standard word count of this series — suspecting you’ll love every moment with Michele, as so many do. And of course watch for her book — “that’s the tell-all,” she says smiling.
For now, a few more tidbits, and then you can get more Michele weeknights 7pm - midnight on 99.5 The Wolf. One thing: along with recent changes supporting her health and happiness, she is no longer live on the air but pre-recorded the same day — explaining her modified moniker. But no need for despair: “I still maintain close contact, and want to, with my listeners, who can reach me on Facebook or by email (MMichaels@entercom.com), and make requests and dedications.”
Her Kissable K9 adoption program also continues, through which Michele highlights dogs who could use a little extra support finding forever homes. “We’ve had 10 adoptions in three years, and it’s getting traction,” she says. “I’m proud of that.” Good Neighbor Vet recently came onboard as sponsor, providing $100 in vet care to all Kissable K9 adoptive families.
Does a girl this busy have room for a bucket list? As she might say with lusty enthusiasm, “Hell yeah!!” She ticks it off: “Sometime in my life I’d like to be vegan. I’d like to finish my book, which is in its third and final revision. And I’d like to fill up my second passport.” Already having traveled “all over Mexico many times, all over Canada, to Switzerland, Germany, the UK (Scotland and England), Italy, Austria, Monaco, and Jamaica, mon.”
Turning more serious, Michele says what she really wants to do most at this stage of her life is save as many old dogs as she can. “Believe it or not," she says, "dogs grab my attention even more than pizza."
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 3-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.