Five questions with ‘the Rookie’

Matt Michalski, “The Rookie,” has been the producer and on-air personality for Garage Logic for some 27 years. He also hosts American Experiment’s weekly interview on the show’s statewide network. President John Hinderaker recently asked him five questions.

Rookie, you’ve become a famous in Minnesota because of your involvement in Garage Logic, the Joe Soucheray show that airs every day on ESPN1500. How’d you get into the radio business?

I failed out at the U. I’d seen the ads on TV about the Brown Institute, so I talked to my mom and to my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and said, “I’m thinking about going to broadcast school.” They both said, “Thank God, because you know what, you’re not doing anything at the U.” After about six months (working for KSTP-TV), I got the job for AM1500, working weekend overnights and then Monday nights, which included Sports Talk with (Star Tribune columnist Patrick) Reusse and (Pioneer Press columnist Joe) Soucheray.

If I recall, they weren’t known for being kind to their producers.

My dad had listened to those guys, so I knew how rough they were with their producers. My first night on the job, I went up to them and said, “I’m new at this, guys. Please go easy on me. And they said, “Okay.” But that’s when I got my nickname. Reusse said, “Hey since you’re a rookie, go get me the weather,” “Hey, rookie, go grab me the sports page,” “Hey rookie …” They never called me Matt. Twenty-seven years later it’s still sticking.

How did Garage Logic get going?

Joe realized he could create a mythical town where problems were figured out in the garage, where common sense prevails. The concept was an immediate hit. The charm about Garage Logic is that Joe doesn’t pretend to know all the answers. His attitude is, let’s sit around the picnic table in the garage and talk about the problems. If someone calls and disagrees with Joe, he takes the call and listens. He won’t shout them down. He’ll listen to all points and then tell them why they’re wrong—in a pleasant way. I was very lucky to be paired up with Joe, because we hit it off. You can’t fake chemistry in radio.

Center of the American Experiment has been doing a weekly three-minute spot with you that airs every Monday afternoon. What kind of feedback do you get about it?

The feedback I get is that it sounds like an extension of the show. And that’s the biggest compliment advertising can get. It makes people feel part of the conversation. They’re fun spots to do because there’s no script. We want to get the website right and make sure it’s in the time restraints. It’s all good.

This is the question that everybody wants answered: When are you going to have me back as a guest host on Garage Logic?

Good idea. The funny thing about radio is … out of sight out of mind. You come here every week to record your ad, but now it’s in the back of my head, “I gotta call Hinderaker to fill in for Joe when he’s gone.” You just put yourself on that list, pal: Hinderaker in for Joe very soon.