There’s Busy…and Then There’s Mike Max
If it seems like Mike Max is everywhere it’s because he is. Sort of. The 45-year-old sports journalist is a full time employee of both WCCO TV and WCCO Radio. He also produces and hosts “The Sports Show” seen on WUCW, Ch. 23 every Sunday night.
Max’s work week totals 70 hours or more. He is both a sports reporter and anchor for Ch. 4. He also hosts “Life to the Max,” a 30 minute show on the station Saturday nights that profiles sports newsmakers (John Wooden and Michael Jordan included). Max’s week night talk show on radio is filled with local sports news and guests, and the program is sometimes sandwiched between his 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. anchor duties at the TV station.
The weekly routine includes spending “quality” time (usually mornings) with wife Jennifer and the couple’s two young children. And Max can often be found working out at a Life Time Fitness club during the week and at church on Sundays. There’s occasionally time for friends and recreational pursuits like hunting, but his calendar is full with just the normal weekly activity including prioritizing family activities.
No wonder he called his show “Life to the Max.” Not that he’s complaining about a great professional and personal life. Long hours are something he prepared for growing up in Gaylord, Minnesota and later attending Hamline University in St. Paul. Sports and education filled his life including at Hamline where he played both baseball and basketball. The routine of school, sports and part time work became routine.
“I think that’s why it’s easy for me to work a lot of days and a lot of hours because I just got used to that because I was so active in sports and what not,” Max said.
Max is modest about his work ethic. Does he believe, though, that his weekly hours distinguish him from other sports journalists, a profession that isn’t identified first for work ethic? “Oh, I don’t know that people would perceive much of that,” he said. “I don’t work hard to distinguish myself as much as I work hard just because I think it’s the right thing to do. …”
That work ethic has helped achieve a career that even in college he never foresaw. He once thought coaching might be his calling, or perhaps selling insurance. He started out as a business major at Hamline before one class and teacher changed his direction.
“I was majoring in business and took a video production class for fun and my professor said you seem to have a passion for this,” he recalled. “I really enjoyed putting a video together. She said you should try to go get an internship in this and I didn’t even know an internship existed. And that’s when I started knocking on doors and finally I got in to Ch. 4. … It wasn’t like I set out to be a reporter. I literally kind of fell into it that way.”
After college, he used his relationship as an intern at WCCO TV to be hired as a sports producer. After awhile he was working for both Ch. 4 and the station’s cable entity Midwest Sports Channel. Later came the opportunity at WCCO Radio. Whether it was producing or being on the air, Max realized he had a passion for sports journalism.
“I like to focus on short term,” he said. “Having grown up competing (in sports)…the closest thing…is reporting. It is the greatest challenge in the business…being a great reporter, I think.”