Mike McGuff is a native Houstonian who has been blogging since 2005. He balances his time covering the Houston and Texas radio, television and newspaper media scene plus other interesting news concerning the Bayou City. His informative opinions and insider scoops help Houstonians keep up with all that’s happening in local media.
Currently, Mike is producing a documentary on the former Rock 101 KLOL and its continuing legacy. We wanted to get Mike’s insights on what’s going on with Houston media. We also asked him a few questions to get a pulse on Houston’s health problems and possibilities. Read more on the interview below!
HFR: You’re a Houston institution with several Emmy’s, so your opinion is important and appreciated, can you tell us 3 things about Houston that we should know?
Mike McGuff: You are too kind. While Houston is the 4th largest city in the nation (and supposedly gaining on Chicago), in terms of a media market, it’s actually smaller. In the television world, it is market 10 out of 210 US markets. So, not exactly small, but smaller than our actual metro size. That’s because the larger markets combine cities like Dallas-Fort Worth and the rest of the Metroplex to make a much bigger TV viewing area. As a radio market, Houston-Galveston is ranked market 6 out of 272 markets. The third thing is not media related, but Houston is my hometown. I love it and am proud of it.
HFR: Being in the media world for so long, who are your favorite influential people in Houston?
Mike McGuff: I think lots of people look to the news anchors they grew up watching as influential. That list for me is long. I would include the big three – Dave Ward, Ron Stone and Steve Smith. But let’s not forget Marvin Zindler, Melanie Lawson, Shara Fryer, Minerva Perez, Ed Brandon, Gina Gaston, Bob Allen, Craig Roberts and Doug Johnson either.
In my adult years, that list would include Dominique Sachse who is one of the most influential TV stars in Houston and beyond with her growing YouTube channel.
HFR: Channel 2 is getting a new show called Houston Life. Anything you can share about the upcoming program?
Mike McGuff: I’m always excited when Houston gets new local programming. Viewers get more Houston information and TV staffers get more job options! It’s cool how KPRC is putting the show’s studio in The Galleria right next to Nordstrom. There have been some other Houston TV shows that have broadcast from a public area, but this is the first one in a long time to come along and bring that trend back.
HFR: Which Houston media outlet is the highest ranked and most popular right now?
Mike McGuff: In the past, it would have been KTRK abc13 out right. Now KPRC 2 is quickly moving up. However, these days there is no clear winner anymore. There are many newscasts where stations are battling it out by .1 in the ratings system!
The joke among TV employees and some viewers is that all the stations are number one in the ratings now. That’s because stations pick the audience demographic (age/gender) for a newscast where they are successful, then declare themselves number one in that newscast. In the same newscast, one station can be the best with the 18 to 34 age group while another can be tops with the 25 to 54 age range. Guess what? That means they can both claim to be number one in that newscast.
There is always fine print at the bottom of the screen that explains which demographic they are number one with, but most viewers aren’t going to see that and assume they are tops overall for that newscast.
HFR: Over the last 15 years, Houston has been ranked one of the fattest cities year in and year out. What do you think are the contributing factors?
Mike McGuff: This is something that has been on my mind a lot recently as we hide inside our homes hugging the AC unit. I think two of the biggest factors are heat and humidity.
When it’s in the 90s but feels like it’s 106 degrees, you are better off trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk than do outside activity. Plus, the humidity makes the air feel so wet, you need a swimsuit and goggles just to walk down the street.
Houston is also not one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities either. There is a lot of sprawl and outlying suburbs which makes for long commutes. This means more people are in cars for longer periods of time and not moving with their own bodies.
HFR: Houston’s new mayor Sylvester Turner is promising changes in terms of Houston health initiatives. His predecessors promised the same with little success. Mayor Turner is off to a good start, what are your thoughts on the Mayor’s new initiatives?
Mike McGuff: I think Mayor Turner has some good ideas. He’s addressed making Houston more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. With the city’s population seemingly becoming more population-dense by the year, this has to be addressed. It’s good for traffic and our waistlines. I should add that past administrations have been working on this, but it seems Turner is looking to expand this in an even more positive direction.
HFR: How do we get Houston kids away from their video games and laptops, and outside to play and exercise?
Mike McGuff: This is the million dollar question. It’s a big problem for modern day parents. My wife and I strive to keep our kids active. They train in karate with Sensei Alex Ndem who is a former member of the USA Shotokan National Karate Team, take swimming at the Houston Swim Club (where Olympian Simone Manuel took lessons), play soccer and baseball through the year. Even with all of this and school work, they still have a strong desire to play Angry Birds or whatever app is hot at the time.
One positive thing Houston has going for it is the months when it is not summer. We really have a good climate the rest of the year. And Houston has a pretty decent parks system. For example, just in my part of town, I could take the kids to a different neighborhood park every day of the week. Not every area is this fortunate. But luckily there are the big areas like the Houston Arboretum, Memorial Park, Hermann Park and Discovery Green. If you are looking for something new for kids, I highly recommend Donovan Park in the Heights.
HFR: What is your favorite spot to grab a healthy meal in Houston? And what is your favorite spot to hang out and socialize in town?
Mike McGuff: My favorite spot to grab a healthy meal is Snap Kitchen. It really has moved my lifestyle in a much healthier direction. The company asked a group of Texas social media influencers to take a 21-day challenge with its menu and that experience changed my life. I immediately dropped weight and felt much better within the 21 days. That was in 2014 and since then I have learned more about portion size and the importance of meal ingredients.
The thing about Houston is it has so many great spots to hang out all over the city. I would say since having kids, the place we go the most is the Houston Museum District and Hermann Park. My kids grew up riding the Hermann Park train just as I did!
HFR: Besides exercising and nutrition, what do you do to stay healthy in terms of physical, mental health, and spirituality?
Mike McGuff: I know having kids can drive parents a little crazy sometimes, but if I had to look at it overall, I would say my children have grounded me and given me a real purpose. Naturally, it is stressful at times, but overall wonderful. As a Christian, I believe in the power of prayer and worship. And lately, the idea of meditation has intrigued me. That’s something I want to investigate more in the future.
HFR: Those with a platform like yourself are crucial to inspiring a healthier America. How do you intend to promote health and fitness in America?
Mike McGuff: I think anyone who reads my blog has seen a transformation in me literally. You can go back and look at old photos of me compared to now and tell that I have physically changed for the better. Plus if you read my coverage, my mood has improved too (laughs)! Maybe part of that is age, but working on my health has played a part in that too.
In the last few years, I have started sharing more health related articles on social media too. Those shares probably benefit my audience more than monthly TV news bloopers!