Next up in our Meet the Media series is Mike Ferreri, sports director of KOMO 4 News. Mike is a passionate journalist who enjoys using his career to connect with others in his community – especially if there are M&M’s involved. Get to know more about Mike by connecting with him on his Twitter.
How did you find yourself in your current job?
My wife’s twin sister moved to Seattle in the mid-90’s and we started visiting the Northwest back then. I wasn’t off the plane an hour and immediately fell in love with the Northwest and all it had to offer, including its sports teams and everything you can do outdoors. At the time, I was living in North Carolina and later moved to Memphis, where I worked at a Fox station – but the whole time, I focused on getting a job in the Seattle market for the future. When Fox Sports Northwest started in 2000, there was a shift in the market, opening up some sports jobs. I came on at KOMO as a reporter, anchor and producer in October 2000 and worked closely with Eric Johnson, who taught me quite a bit. In 2005, I moved into the weekend sports anchor job and in 2010, when Eric Johnson accepted a fulltime role with the News department, I became sports director. I have been here 20 years and appreciate every time I get to walk into the KOMO Studios to work with friends and report on sports.
Which of your stories are you most proud of?
That’s a great question and also really hard to narrow down. Going to Cooperstown, New York twice to cover the induction of both Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez into the National Baseball Hall of Fame were special experiences. I am from the northeast but never made it to Cooperstown as a kid. I love baseball and always wanted to go there, so to finally cover Hall of Fame weekend for KOMO was a dream come true. Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar were a joy to cover on both trips, and Cooperstown is such a special place. It’s a little slice of Americana and is loaded with history.
As for stories, there are a number to choose from, but my favorites have been “The Peaches” and the “PLU Crew Reunion”.
The Peaches was about an all-girls baseball team in West Seattle that played against boys. I worked on the story with Doug Pigsley, one of the best photographers at KOMO. Through the course of the story we got to know a lot of the families from the team and made a lot of friends. Along with the human connections we made, Doug and I also won a National Murrow Award for our Peaches story and we even flew to New York for the big awards show. It was really cool.
The PLU Crew Reunion was about a group of rowers from Tacoma’s Pacific Lutheran University who got together for their 50th reunion. I worked on the story with KOMO’s sports photographer Paul Koehnke. The thing that made the story unique was that the rowers met initially for the reunion at University of Washington (UW). It was there that, 50 years ago, they were given a boat by the UW Husky crew team. They decided to row the boat back to Tacoma by way of Puget Sound because they had no money to transport it by truck. They didn’t make it. 50 years later, the men retraced their path on a luxury cabin cruiser and caught up on old times, then later rowed together at American Lake. There was a lot of emotion. We all age, but the connection this group of men had was timeless. I rowed in college at Iowa, so anything crew-related is always enjoyable.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I work with some great people here at KOMO – true professionals who are dedicated to their craft. I have become friends with so many of them over the years. We all have each other’s backs, and that is something special. I also like how we cover all of Seattle’s sports. It’s not easy to keep up on all of it, but you get to meet so many athletes and coaches and learn about them as seasons go on. I like all sports, and I especially enjoy telling stories about sports that may not get daily coverage like the Seahawks and Mariners receive. UW Huskies, UW Softball, Seawolves Rugby, the coach that is also a 5-star chef…let’s tell those stories.
What is your interview style?
I don’t have a clipboard or things written down. I find that to be too formal and might make people I am speaking to uncomfortable. I really try to be conversational and really learn something about someone through the course of the conversation. I let the person I Interview guide me with their answers. I always have my questions and things I want to know, but I don’t ask them until the time is right. There are two types of interviews though: there is the player coming off the field after practice and has to get to a team meeting or a treatment appointment and doesn’t have much time. Those would be three to four quick questions and really fill a need for a feature or something I am working on that day. Then there is the sit-down or longer form interview that really allows audiences to learn about an individual and connect with them. During the first two months of the pandemic I did some Skype interviews with Seattle athletes like Stef Frei, Sue Bird and softball coach Heather Tarr. It was great. No one had anywhere to be, and we talked about all sorts of things. It was very cool. Yet, regardless of the interview length and format, I always appreciate someone’s time.
What do you look for in a story?
You probably hear this a lot, but the human element. What is it that drives a person to be excellent? What was their life like as they worked hard to succeed or experience some level of success? Also, I want to learn about the person behind the jersey number – who are they? What do they like? What makes them tick? At spring training every year with the Mariners, I do a ‘Who are you?’ segment, especially with the new players. I ask them everything from their favorite food to what they are watching on Netflix. It’s fun and I get to learn about the players along with our viewers.
What is your day like at your job?
Right now, during the pandemic, it’s all at my desk in the KOMO sports office. We used to go out and cover press conferences in-person, and that was great because you got to see team personnel, sports media friends and colleague and talk with the players in person. Everything is Zoom calls now. My day always begins at home between 8 and 9 a.m. checking sports news from the east coast. I send emails or lineup feeds and constantly keep track until I leave for the station from Snoqualmie, where I live, around 2 p.m. or so. Then it’s to the station where we have sports in the 6 and 11 (and sometimes the 5pm depending on the news of the day). I don’t have a producer or anything. I write all my own stuff and find it to be a really enjoyable part of my day.
Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I grew up two towns over from ESPN in Connecticut and I used to wash sportscaster Chris Berman’s car (it was a blue Pontiac Grand Am). Later, I worked at a deli where he’d come in and get food on a Saturday before heading to work on NFL Gameday, and he’d share nicknames. He was at ESPN for a lot of the year, and he was really nice to all the folks in my hometown of Cheshire, Connecticut. I also am a big fan of Tom Brokaw. I love his style, and I grew up watching him every night.
More recently though, I must say I really look up to Eric Johnson here at KOMO. He helped get me to Seattle, and he taught me a lot over the years, especially on how to write and be a great storyteller. He is one of the best in the country. Seattle is lucky to have him.
What is your favorite news outlet?
Favorite news outlet locally is KOMO, of course. I like to see my friends and coworkers delivering the news of the day. I am a news junkie and watch every day. I grew up watching the news at night, and that hasn’t changed. I also am a big fan of ABC World News. They do a really good job and have a likeable bunch of reporters. Even on my days off, my wife Wendy and I make a point to watch the World News broadcast.
Fill in the blank:
- If I am not working, I am… paddle boarding on Lake Sammamish (I go year-round) or hiking the trails by my house with my wife and two dogs.
- If I could interview anyone, it would be…Sandy Koufax, Dodgers Hall of Famer…he doesn’t do interviews. Also, wouldn’t mind a round table and sharing some beers with Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen and Bono at the same time. That would be unreal.
- My favorite thing about Seattle is…the sports…I will never stop watching or caring about the Seattle Sports teams. I also think it’s cool we have two awesome sports stadiums next to each other and a new one coming in where we will finally have NHL Hockey. I grew up going to Hartford Whalers games, I haven’t had a team since they moved to Carolina. I do now, can’t wait for the Kraken to begin
What is your guilty pleasure?
M&M’s. Every night between 10 and 11pm when I am working, I have a handful of M &M’s. They are so good.
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