Mike Leary - Alumni | CMCMA | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Mike Leary

Image of Mike Leary

B.S., Radio and Television, 1974

Freelance Producer

My name is Mike Leary.  I’m originally from Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

I’m a proud graduate of the Radio/TV Department, receiving my Bachelor of Science Degree in 1974.  I’ve worked as a producer of TV commercials and web content since graduation. My website is at mikeleary.tv

It’s no exaggeration to state that I owe my career to the R/T department. I enrolled looking to find a production career with a TV station or broadcast network.  But a combination of an internship, two loyal alumni, and a dedicated R/T professor sent me on a different, but very satisfying path.

In summer of 1972 I worked as an intern for Telemation Productions outside Chicago.  It was run by Scott Kane (C&P 1967) who was not just an alum but a former R/T instructor.  While not a broadcast facility, Telemation exposed me to TV commercial production.  Among the many things I learned was the relationship between the advertiser and the advertising agency.

Just before graduation, the late Dr. John Kurtz (R/T Faculty) made me aware of a broadcast producer position at an advertising agency in South Bend, Indiana. Another SIU alum, Dave Grubel (R/T 1971) was leaving the agency and generously informed Dr. Kurtz.

That job led to other positions at ad agencies in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1984 I moved to Chicago to join the J. Walter Thompson agency (now JWT).  In 1990 I moved over to Foote, Cone & Belding (now FCB). In 2003, I went out on my own as a freelance producer, a position I enjoy to this day.

My SIU education had a very balanced mix of both academics and practical instruction.  Having the facilities of WSIU-TV gave me and my classmates a tremendous advantage as we sought out careers.

I was very fortunate to have the classes and facilities that SIU offers to this day.

But it was the human touch and kindness of Messrs. Kane, Grubel and Kurtz that I’ll remember the most.