Many will remember Mike on the Mic, this host who did the heyday of “Au rendez-vous avec la musique” on Galaxie radio before moving on to something else. For several years he has lived between Canada and the United States. His return to Haiti in 2012 cost him his marriage. In this issue of #KoteWYE, native Hinche tells us about his history with music and radio.
Loop: Tell us Mike, what is your family situation at the moment?
Mike : I was married, but I have been divorced for two years. I am the father of a pair of twins, a girl and a boy who have just turned 12.
Loop: You’ve moved around a lot in the last few years.
Mike : Yes, I live between Montreal and Boston. These two places are practically where I spend most of my time. To tell the truth, I previously lived in Boston for three years, then I moved to Montreal in 2008. I returned to Haiti in 2012, where I spent almost seven years before leaving Haiti again for Montreal.
Loop: Many see Mike on the Mic as one of the best Konpa hosts in Haiti. But for some time you are no longer fully present in the country and in the animation. What is your explanation for this?
Mike : I’d say I’m just a music host, even though I used to host a Konpa-dominant show. Also, the name of the show was “Au rendez-vous avec la musique” on radio Galaxie. This radio practically has a Konpa heritage, from Felix Lamy to Bernier Sylvain your BS to me. But long before I started hosting shows with Konpa spread, I must say I started hosting a rap music show at 18 in Hinche in the Central Plateau until BS was forced to leave Haiti for Canada and where Galaxie radio encouraged me to continue the work.
I left the country after winning the Golden Ticket for Best Music Host in 2006, then came back in 2012 at the request of Galaxie as a host on both radio and TV, but also as Director of Programming. It didn’t really work because it’s not always good to go from radio to TV and I didn’t really like the camera. Despite this, I stayed in Haiti until 2019 when things really got out of hand in the country before I left for Montreal. But at that time I lost my wife who filed for divorce because she couldn’t take the distance anymore. At the moment I no longer intend to return to Haiti even to spend the holidays if things do not change.
Loop: There is a question we ask ourselves all the time in Haiti. Can we make enough money to live as an animator?
Mike : (laughs). If an animator tells you that he makes enough money from his job to live, I think we can interpret that in different ways. For me, when I came back in 2012, I was one of the highest paid animators in the country. And when we talk about making enough money, it’s relative, because what I was making per month as one of the highest paid animators at the time, now I make it in four or five days. Animators do not earn much money from their monthly salary, but from soldiering on for bands and other things. These animators are often referred to as “visye”, which cannot be said about me and some other animators. But sometimes the media in which these animators develop is just a space of “bwas” to them, logic that I’ve never gone into, for a matter of ethics.
Loop: How do you live now?
Mike : I am self-employed. Before returning to Haiti in 2012, I had the chance to study in Canada. With new technologies, we have many options today, so we work to thrive. We have no choice, we have to pay our taxes, take care of our family and secure our old age.
Loop: You are one of the old school animators. How do you see the way of doing things in your time compared to new trends?
Mike : I don’t think this type is old-fashioned, apart from the fact that adaptations need to be made, such as with social networks, which have become essential in relation to people using new technologies much more than traditional media. The problem of electric power in Haiti has a lot to do with it. One of the downsides of these changes is that they kill the magic of radio which built an image of the host in people’s minds and which allowed the host to retain some freedom. I tried to adapt myself and it didn’t work because I had lost the feeling of the radio. I can’t work without that feeling. This logic in social networks kills appreciation. We are more “zen” connected. The animation, song after song, the bridges between the songs can no longer be done with the radio model that is made today. There are very good young animators like JMS and El Señor, but they have to adapt.
Loop: Any final words for #KoteWYe readers and for those who loved listening to Mike on the mic?
Mike : As a final word, I want to say that my desire, like that of all Haitians, is to see Haiti take the path of development. Courage to all Haitians who could leave but stayed in the country. Courage also for those who cannot walk. It’s sad, but it’s the truth. A word to each of you because you are champions. I hope that one day we will join forces and faith to be able to change the country.