TSC Interviews: HDNet's Mike Straka
In 1995, I had a lot of national commercials—Powerpuff Girls, Olive Garden, you name it. I quit my job at CBS because I had money and wanted to focus on acting. So I acted from 1995-96, did commercials, soap operas, and a couple movies. I got a call out of the blue from people I used to work with at CBS that were now in Fox News. This was August of 1996, when it was basically a startup network.
They called me and asked "Do you want a job?" and I said "NO!" They told me to come in anyway. I figured it'd be a temporary thing. They interviewed me and asked me what I wanted to do. I said overnight shifts because I found that those times give you more freedom. And journalism is the only field where you can work overnight and not feel like a d***. You know what I mean?
Like it doesn't feel like you're working at McDonald's. Even though my job was utilitarian as a tape operator, I quickly realized nobody there knew what they were doing. I definitely learned a lot from my experience with CBS. Before you knew it, I was writing while working as a tape operator and then slowly got into producing. After awhile, Fox decided I was too good to stay on the overnights and it led to an extraordinary career there.
You became the youngest vice president there. How the heck did that happen so fast?
I was 37 when I became Vice President of Fox News Digital. Fox News grew very quickly. If you want to be successful in any field, especially on camera, you have to find your niche. I'm an MMA guy. That's my niche. Sure, I could be an entertainment reporter and I was, but everybody is and I'm not gonna compete with a hot blonde that's 23. She's gonna get that job. Not me.
It's the same thing when you're climbing the executive ladder. In 1999, not a lot of people knew about the Internet. Media outlets thought it would kill their business. It was very new to a lot of people. But everybody eventually realized they had to have a Web site and an Internet presence. I happened to be at the right place at the right time when a conversation was taking place and next thing you know, I'm building Web sites for the Fox News channel.
I built Web sites for the network affiliates as part of Fox News Edge. I became the Fox News Edge's Internet administrator, which meant I maintained 220 Fox affiliates' Web sites. Then, I eventually took over FoxNews.com and that led to becoming VP and Executive Producer.
You helped create Fox "Fight Game." What was that experience like?
It was great because I started covering UFC in 2001. I was also Fox's sports anchor over the weekend. I did a few other reports, but I was a filler guy. Never the main guy on TV. But on weekends, I became the sports guy, covering light s*** like the Kentucky Derby or the Super Bowl. Big events like which were really fun but nothing too in-depth. You don't watch news networks for sports unless it's a big event.