Mike Gunz On The Five Things You Need To Thrive & Succeed As A Journalist

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… No matter what: You are not the smartest person. There is literally someone out there working harder than you, that knows more than you, that is more connected than you and unless you put in the time and the effort and the hard work, you will always be one step behind. So do as much as you can to better yourself.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Journalist”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Gunz of The Gunz Show.

Mike Gunz is a Radio and TV on air personality and digital content creator that does it all. He covers trending, entertainment, sports and music stories on some of the biggest platforms — from SiriusXM to ABC to ESPN to Twitch and more. If it’s happening, Gunz is talking about it.

He has hosted red carpets and music festivals, and has interviewed Hall of Famers to TikTokers.

His music interview show, “The Gunz Show,” has featured some of the biggest names in music — from Machine Gun Kelly to Garth Brooks to Dan and Shay to Guns N Roses and My Chemical Romance.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I always knew I wanted to be on TV. I was the kid that was challenging a teacher’s opinion in class, or standing up and making my voice known — but not in an annoying “Know it all,” kind of way… it was more so like I WANTED TO know more about it or why it was the way it was. I always had something to say and I just knew I wanted to be involved in broadcasting. I got my TV start in high school on MTV and purposely went to Fordham University in NYC because other schools wouldn’t let me intern till I was a junior — I was like heck no I don’t want to waste 3 years of my life just not doing anything. I began interning 2nd semester freshman year and throughout that summer — by junior year I had a full time job on ABC Radio in NYC, as well as doing TV and began my music show “The Gunz Show” on idobi Radio. That summer? I took my two weeks vacation and ended up touring the country on the Warped Tour with some of the biggest bands. It was legit like a scene out of Almost Famous. From there I’ve been able to expand to larger networks and even bigger hosting opportunities.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

When I was in middle and high school I was a big Blink 182 fan and I saw that MTV (which at the time, was still huge — TRL was must watch for anybody and everybody those days — we’d literally run home from the bus stop to catch Carson Daly interview the biggest artists) so MTV had a casting call for their show “Becoming” and one of the artists was Blink 182. So I had my mom drive me into New York City on like a Saturday morning — I’d never even been to NYC before… to try out to be Tom Delonge from Blink 182 for this show. I had the Dickies shorts, the Atticus backwards hat, I brought my guitar, I had my Vans shoes on, I mean I WAS Tom Delonge… There were hundreds upon hundreds of people trying out — I was by far the youngest person there — I was a sophomore and maybe 15 years old. I was nervous AF, but I just went and said screw it, I really have nothing to lose — plus at the very least, I would gain experience about how TV worked — which I knew I wanted to work in. Long story short, I ended up being casted as 1 of the Tom Delonges for the 3 Blink 182 teams. That meant my mom would have to continue bringing me into NYC throughout the next couple weeks as part of the competition series because I was under 18 and needed her to sign off on everything LOL. In the end, we had a full MTV Wannabe: Becoming Blink 182 show — and I ended up winning that as well! My team beat the other ones and we got to reenact the “First Date” music video. It was awesome. Being on MTV in high school — I mean let’s go! Plus a lot of the casting people saw that I was serious about the TV aspect of things — and I kept in touch with them and it directly led to me getting other gigs at FUSE and MuchMusic — pretty much jumpstarting my broadcast career. All from taking that chance as a 15 year old. Just straight up wild.

Can you share the funniest mistake that you made when you first started? Can you share the lesson you learned from it?

I was asked to introduce a band that was part of a 4 band bill… However, the set times that I was given beforehand were outdated. The way the stage was setup, the band would walk out on one side, and I would go out on the other side — but because it was dark, I couldn’t really see anyone besides the venue’s production manager… so I get a countdown and walk out, the crowd is going wild and screaming as they await the band… I’m feeding off the energy and doing THE most energetic, amped up intro ever… only to realize that I introduced the wrong band. Everyone kind of just looked at me like “oh no.” LOL. The band were good sports about it — joking that they were the other band throughout their set. Meanwhile I was like welp, that wasn’t ideal on my part. Haha.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have launched the trivia series “ Who Wants to be an Emo Millionaire” and it is BUZZING. I invite artists on my livestream Twitch channel and ask them 7 trivia questions in the realm of Emo or emo music adjacent. I always include a question about the band’s history and it is HILARIOUS how much they forget. So if I said “you opened this tour back in 2012 with this song…” or “this is track 4 on your debut album!” So many people forget because it’s been either so long, or they just have played different songs, tours and omre that you really do kind of wake up in a different city and a lot of times touring life can just be a blur. It’s SO fun. The Emo Millionaire also allows fans to be a “Lifeline,” so the bands can ask one live audience member for their help for one question — but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be correct! Fans can win prizes, and everybody loves trivia and music — so it’s the perfect combination of both.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I’ve been fortunate enough to interview a lot of musicians, athletes, politicians, actors and actresses.

But a couple stories that stand out include when I covered the New York Yankees for my college radio station WFUV. I was asked to go to spring training and interview and cover the team. The first day I walk into the YANKEES LOCKER ROOM — and I’m just mesmerized and literally freaking out on the inside. I had no idea what I was supposed to do so I went up to some players and was like can I ask you a couple questions. They took one look at me and were like uhhh, no. I was mortified. Eventually I saw Don Mattingly — who was my favorite player growing up and was the Yankees batting coach at the time, walk through… I go Excuse me Mr Mattingly can I ask you a few questions. You could tell that he had to get somewhere, but he saw the look in my face and was like alright I’ll help this kid out haha. It was awesome — he knew I was nervous but he was great throughout it. And ya know what? I wasn’t nervous after that. I just interviewed Donnie — my favorite player. Everybody else? I was so much more confident in my approach and with my questions because I had done the person that meant the most to me. All it took was him saying yes and it literally changed my life. If he didnt’ do that, I could have called my parents and said this isn’t for me… but instead the opposite happened.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in journalism?

Read everything. Don’t not read something because you think it’s from a different viewpoint or because it’s from something that is stereotyped as being “Far Right,” or “Far Left,” or whatever — literally read everything. It’s the only way to understand those that you may disagree with to see where they’re coming from, and that may lead to conversations and understanding. Society is so split right now, social media is a cesspool and it really is important to just try to learn as much as possible. I’ll sometimes read 4–5 articles about one topic from different outlets. My goal is to be able to go to a bar in any city across the country — sit down, and be knowledgeable enough to jump into a conversation with whoever’s sitting near me about whatever they’re talking about. I try to know at least a little bit about everything and then ask questions to those that know more.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?

I think the pandemic showed us the importance of a work/life balance. Anybody who says that they weren’t affected by it — are lying. EVERYBODY went through shit mentally, emotionally, physically. It’s important to take care of one’s self, to kind of do things at your own pace — if you don’t want to 100% jump back into what you were doing before (or maybe you realized during the pandemic that you didn’t like what you were doing before) that’s okay… just do you.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

A lot of times listeners will come up to me and say that they are or were going through a rough time — feeling depressed, anxious, problems at home or school or with their significant others, etc and they say that my interviews and my show allowed them to just laugh and feel better. I’m really open on air with my audience — so if I’m feeling shitty or lousy, I say it to them. If you’re not honest with them — they can see right through you. I think that’s a major thing that is missing these days — nobody is REAL. We’re all trying to fake it. I got over that a while ago Gunz is Gunz and many times people say that I’ve helped them kind of express themselves or find their identities and just be who they are.

Also, the thing about music is that really no matter what mood you’re in — whether someone just passed away, whether you’re feeling anxious, whether you just started a relationship and are feeling all happy, or whether you just want a pump up song to pregame to before you go out — there’s a song for everything. I try to bring that to the audience and show them just how important music can be. When all else fails, the songs are still there.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

Passion. As soon as that red light goes on in front of the TV camera, or my microphone is hot during my podcast or I’m doing a radio hit or my Twitch stream goes live — I light up. Whether it’s 5am hits or midnight hits — sometimes my days are 18+ hours long working 3 different broadcast gigs… it can be long, tiresome — but it’s just important to stay focused and driven. Passion, energy and also kind of realizing that anytime I had a setback in my career — whether it was companies consolidating and getting new bosses, or opportunities being closed, that I stuck with it and realized I really wanted to be in broadcasting, I really wanted to be in journalism as well as be an engaging, entertaining personality that can make you laugh, make you think, and make your life a little bit better during that time.

Ok wonderful. Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Everyone is not who they seem like they are on TV or on air. Some of the nicest people on air can be assholes behind the scenes. While some that come across brash and abrasive on air, are actually the sweetest and nicest and will go out of their way for charities or people behind the scenes. That’s why I try to just be a nice person at all times. Be fortunate, be grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have and just roll with it and try to help out those that might be having a crappy day and want to just escape their problems for a bit while watching or listening to your show.
  2. No matter what: You are not the smartest person. There is literally someone out there working harder than you, that knows more than you, that is more connected than you and unless you put in the time and the effort and the hard work, you will always be one step behind. So do as much as you can to better yourself.
  3. It’s a small world out there. Everybody knows everybody — and with the growth of social media and LinkedIN and technology, it’s becoming that much smaller. Don’t be a jerk, don’t be “that person” that everyone has a story about because it will come back to you. Don’t talk badly about others because they will find out. Tread lightly, don’t start rumors, keep your mouth shut and pretty much just don’t be an A-Hole haha.
  4. You can’t please everyone. Social media has us constantly comparing ourselves to others — and even though we try not to, it’s still there, literally staring us in the face. A lot of what is posted are just people’s best moments and you need to realize that. Behind the scenes, when the camera’s off, they are going through many of the same things and struggles you are. Just keep that in mind. Don’t let yourself get down about it regardless of how difficult that may be. Just do you, do the best job you can, and go the extra mile.
  5. Be Prepared. Life is about opportunities and the few times they show up — you need to embrace it and you need to roll with it. You can’t hold back. That’s why it’s important to almost fantasize or mock up moments in your mind of what you would do if something happens — if you were asked to write a story, or do a live segment or be asked to interview so and so, or be called into the head bosses office that you never met but they saw your work and wanted to speak with you on the spur of the moment. Educate yourself, prepare yourself as much as possible and when the chance is there — TAKE IT.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This would be more about the economic good for people — but I really believe that our education system needs to make it mandatory for people to take classes on the economy, or on savings, or on credit card debt, and just things that TRULY matter. Some of what we are obligated to learn in school is so obsolete now because of just the way technology and the world has changed. The average kid and college graduate has no idea about healthcare, stocks, or finances — and that’s why millennials and Gen Z are getting crushed in debt. Somehow we need to do a better job with the education system of incorporating things that actually DO matter to people.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

From an entertainment aspect — Paul McCartney. I would just love to be able to sit down, crack a beer or have a mimosa with Paul friggen McCartney. A living Beatle. Just to pick his brain and get his ideas on the music industry and just life and everything. I’d try to not make it like the scene from Saturday Night Live with Chris Farley interviewing him (YouTube it if you haven’t seen it, kids! It’s a classic!)

From a business standpoint — Mark Cuban. He is a person that gets things done — he is knowledgeable, has a proven track record of not only being able to adapt — but see the future and kind of predict how technology and businesses are going to go. I always try to read up on as many interviews from him as I can and I literally always learn something from him. I feel that he would just straight up love my personality — and that I’m doing something in the broadcast realm that he would totally be interested in — with the music / sports crossover with social media. MARK — HAVE YOUR PEOPLE CALL MY PEOPLE (aka, just me).

How can our readers follow you on social media?

All my social media handles are TheGunzShow

You can also subscribe to “The Gunz Show” podcast across all platforms as well as on Twitch and YouTube.

Also follow Emo Millionaire on socials because that’s my gameshow I’m really pushing these days as well.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

THANK YOU EVERYONE! This was great!

Mike Gunz On The Five Things You Need To Thrive & Succeed As A Journalist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.