A love of radio from his teenage years has led Mike Somerville to driving radio listening into a new era.
What’s your story?
I was born in the Boston area. I built my first radio station in my basement at 14; had my first on-air shift at 15 (Mum had to drive me to the station). From 15 to 26 I always had an on-air shift at radio stations: College or Commercial. I combined my love of music & radio & engineering & technology into being Chief Engineer for the top 25 market stations. I started Internet streaming in 1997. I was the first to stream MLB World series in 1998. My passion for Entertainment and Engineering continues and is what fuels me in my new adventures here in Thailand.
What excites you most about your industry?
“Broadcasting Industry” is a broad term. Many people experience it as Spotify or iHeartRadio or Netflix or the FM radio in their car or YouTube or AppleTV/Podcasts or Internet Radio. It evolves and at times sets the pace for how technology can improve the quality of the lives of literally millions of people. “Radio” as many people might define it is at a very exciting transformational stage and now is the perfect time to really RE-define what an “Internet Radio Station” *can* be. Very Exciting!
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Things can ALWAYS be improved. Processes can always be streamlined. The user experience SHOULD always be improved. Too many people seem to be “afraid” of technology and some will even mock it. When I hear people tell me I have a “crazy idea” or say, “we’ve never done it that way before” I *KNOW* its a great idea worth pursuing! I strive to know more that others and then, somehow, share that knowledge to those who would desire to grow.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
THE most useful skill I continue to work on is Leadership. Sure, technical aptitude and flexing a mathematical muscle is helpful in the field of technology BUT to really LEARN how to lead by understanding others and meeting them along their path of learning and to then encourage their growth; well, THAT is a one of the greatest gifts. Even recently, I had a former student who is also an entrepreneur, reach out to share with me his successes. Leadership takes on many forms with encouragement being an often overlooked piece of the success pie.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“NEVER GIVE UP! Learn Always, All ways.” ~Gary Ridge, CEO, WD-40 Company
“I didn’t learn a whole lot doing everything right the first time”. ~My Dad.
Making mistakes is not exactly “fun” BUT the more I make, the less the disappointment and I rebound faster to try again, for success.
Who inspires you?
Visible people like Jack Ma, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, Walt Disney and but also others like Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth, Revisited. My fellow classmates in my Master’s program Cohort, one of my new best friends here in Bangkok, Dana Blouin. Honestly, if I’m as open to learning as I profess to be, even random strangers I see on the sidewalk can instantiate inspiration. The KEY for me is to be aware enough to recognize when simple interactions are NOT inspiring me… THEN something is wrong with me and I need to change.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
There are countries (e.g. Thailand) that have full industries that are underserved (e.g. Radio options for listeners) whereas in the US/Canada major markets are over-populated with many stations offering the same thing. If I keep thinking globally, it seems that “greenfield” opportunities still exist. VERY exciting.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
This “regret question” always makes me laugh. It seems to be posed by people who themselves failed to learn something from their past mishaps along the way and are trying to find an ally in their 2020 hindsight club. I suppose I could have obtained fewer material goods, i.e. bought less “stuff”. But, then I’d likely not have as much appreciation for my extraordinarily ordinary life I get to have today.
I believe all of the past events that have occurred, be they good or bad have culminated into the gargantuan amount of gratitude that I have today.
How do you unwind?
BEACH. Go. Sit. Stare at the waves and listen.
While I can never really “shut my mind off” my version of meditative relaxing and breathing help me to regain focus and potentially prioritize all the exciting positive opportunities ahead.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
That very few other people/companies are thinking the way I am, i.e. globally. It will be difficult to convince others that BKK.FM is the new version of Internet Radio. BUT, I *know* that NOT focusing on just the local market is the future of what BKK.FM can accomplish.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth, Revisited by Michael Gerber (it will help you learn whether you really are an Entrepreneur or more suited to be an Engineer).
Lynchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin (if you get nothing else from this book, walk away with 3 simple words: YOU GOTTA SHIP!
Shameless plug for your business:
BKK.FM is a new kind of Internet Radio station. It is a platform that will re-define how the world thinks about Internet Radio – similar to the way FM redefined how people thought AM was the only “real radio”. By serving the globe it is indeed streaming music and will grow to be so much more: interactive, participatory, listener engaging, showcasing Global brands that truly enhance people’s lives though entertainment and education.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.