Mike Soileau Celebrates Thirty Years in Southwest Louisiana Radio
Today, I celebrate 30 years in radio, and all that time was spent on the airways of Southwest Louisiana. It blows my mind that 30 years have passed already, but I am happy to say that I love what I do and my passion for radio is still as real as the first day I started.
Thinking back over the past three decades, I recall many things that I've done, people I've met, friendships I've forged, celebrities I've met and interviewed, and places I've gone.
Let me tell you the story of the past 30 years, but I will give you the brief version.
As a kid growing up, I was always around radio. My mother, Kathy, sold radio advertising while my dad, Dave, was on the air doing a Cajun music show on Saturday mornings, and I would always go with him to the station and watch him do the show.
My Dad, Dave Soileau, who is in the Cajun Music Hall of Fame in Lake Charles and the Louisiana Cajun French Music Hall of Fame, did a show on several radio stations in his career. He did shows on KAOK 1400 AM, Q101 FM, 1470 AM KLCL, Cajun Country 92.9 in Jennings, KBIG 99 FM, and before he died, Cajun Radio 1470/1290 AMs.
Back in 1990, right after I graduated from LaGrange High School in Lake Charles, my dad fell ill, and he was currently doing a show on 1470am when it was in Westlake. He asked me to fill in for him that Saturday morning, and the rest is history.
I got a part time job at the studio doing the Cajun Show from 5:00am to 7:00am Monday through Friday while also being a board operator for Astros baseball games and eventually doing an on-air shift on LA99 FM while attending college.
Here's a fact for you. When I started in radio, my program director at the time, Tom Hoefer, said I needed a radio name and asked what my middle name was. I said David, so he said okay, you are now going to be David Michaels on LA99, where I did a show from 7:00pm to midnight Monday Through Friday. But I was always Mike Soileau when doing the Cajun Show.
Dad and I also did a Saturday morning live show called Louisiana Bandstand from the Downtowner Hotel where the old Harrah's parking garage now sits. We would have live bands inside the hotel's nightclub, and we would broadcast them playing live over the air while we talked after every two songs.
From that point forward, I was hooked. For the past 30 years, I have only worked and been on three radio stations all in the Southwest Louisiana area: 99.5 FM, 1470AM, and 92.9FM.
Like I said earlier, I did Cajun music shows for now 30 years and country radio for the past 15. I have seen the transition of stations changing names and locations. 1470AM and 99.5 FM were housed in Westlake on Shady Lane before moving to its current location on Lakeshore Drive, where I currently work. Cajun Country 92.9 FM was in Jennings before being sold, and now is also located in the same building where I am with Gator 99.5.
I would love to shout out just some of the great radio legends in the area I was fortunate enough to work with and learn from through the years. First, to Tom Hoefer, who currently is the voice of McNeese Football, and George Swift for giving me a chance. Bruce Merchant was the one who took me under his wing and mentored me my first few years, and we are still dear friends today. Also, huge shout out to Dale Mann, who I grew up listening to and now is one of my closest friends.
I have had the honor and privilege to work with people who have since retired from radio full time like Dale Mann, Gary Shannon, Don Rivers, David Morgan, Chad Austin, Kevin Davis, Dave Chimeno (AKA Ron Riley), John Bridges, Wes Guidry, and the late Jerry Dugas, Terry Broussard, "Pee Tee" Les Johnson, and Todd Stone and, of course, my dad, Dave Soileau. They are the true pioneers of radio and legends in SWLA.
I want to shout out my current ride or die radio on-air family Erik Tee and Gina Cook with 107 Jamz, Mikey O and Bruce Merchant with 92.9 The Lake and Your Buddy Russ, Patrick Frey, and Ryan Keith with Gator 99.5. (P.S. - big thank you to Kristian Bland who is our website editor. He makes me look educated when I write these stories.) You guys and gals rock!
Along the way, I have been blessed to be inducted into the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame, awarded the continuing promotion and education and Pioneer awards for Cajun Music, featured in local and national magazines and television, and voted best radio DJ, best radio show, and best radio station in Southwest Louisiana.
I wanted to share some memories and photos with you of just 1% of things I have been fortunate to experience over the past 30 years. Thank you, Southwest Louisiana, for letting this little old Cajun boy live his dream and come into your lives each day over the airways. I love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am truly blessed.