He knew my name before I knew his. He was older than me so I owed him the respect of his seniority to introduce myself. He was conscientious of others. Obviously, more than me.
I figured he was attracted to the public service ideals of public radio so he volunteered to work the front desk at WWOZ. I admire the people who don't go on the air. The listeners who financially support the station, the folks who work the boring or tough jobs far from the microphone. They give without the quid pro quo excitement of being on the air. They... you... Mike... all live the beautiful ideals of public radio. Selflessness. Community. Giving.
Last night during a WWOZ get-together, I learned Mike passed away from cancer. I asked around but nobody at the station knew he was sick. He kept his disease a secret from all of us. I figure he wanted us to treat him as a person. A guy who learns stranger's names. Who puts others in front of himself. Who bears the heaviest load imaginable without self-pity or recognition.
Mike lived an ideal. Not for a fair weather few hours on Sunday but during the hardest stormiest time of life. I'm shocked and saddened by the news but I'm so impressed with the man.