Award-winning journalist and WPRI 12 News Anchor Mike Montecalvo is a proud alumnus of Rhode Island College. May 15, 2022 will mark 41 years of Montecalvo’s broadcasting career. In a recent episode of Ray-ality TV, Montecalvo and I spoke about several topics pertaining to journalism and his time as a RIC student.
“When I was growing up, I wanted to be Casey Kasem. He used to do the top 40 countdown, and they used to play it on Pro FM every Sunday Morning. And I loved listening to that and I used to come up with my own countdowns. So way back, all the stores would have a top 40 countdown like the radio stations. I would get all of them, and I would combine them and that would be my top 40. I loved listening to [the] radio, I loved when they were interviewing people. That’s how it started,” Montecalvo said is what sparked his interest to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
After graduating from LaSalle Academy, Montecalvo attended RIC and instantly started to get involved on campus. His involvement on campus included serving in student government and being the General Manager for WRIC, now known as WXIN.
“I did [student] parliament my first two years. I was Class Representative, Treasurer. That kind of stuff. I loved RIC. It’s a commuter school, I commuted the first semester and then I lived there the rest of my time. I got involved in everything, I got to know my professors,” says Montecalvo. “There was a Dek Hockey league that was in Whipple. I came up with the idea that we’re going to broadcast Floor Hockey games on WRIC radio. And people were like ‘You have to be out of your mind.’ And I said ‘No. The students will get to learn how to do play by play.’ And that’s what we did, we had four teams of two and we did broadcasting of Floor Hockey. It was a training ground.”
Montecalvo also started working at WNRI, a radio station located in Woonsocket, at the age of 19 during his time as a student. College life can become stressful trying to get involved and staying on top of course work which created a challenge for him. “Time management was the biggest challenge. We had five classes in the semester. I did fall behind in my senior year, so I had to take seven or eight classes the Fall semester because I was working a lot. I was at the radio station on campus every day for at least two, three, four hours,” said Montecalvo.
He added, “We had 140 DJs back then. [WRIC operated] 24/7. So time management was tough because I eventually became the General Manager of the radio station, you’re there a lot. I worked Saturdays and Sundays at various radio stations and then I had my school work. But I graduated in four years. My time at RIC really helped me to get where I am today.”
Montecalvo’s story showcases how anything is possible as long as one puts their mind to it. Hearing his story prompted the question of what advice he has for students today hoping to get into broadcast journalism. “My advice [is] don’t give up, but the first question you have to answer is do I want to do this? If the answer is yes. Am I willing to sacrifice? Am I willing to work 60-70 hours a week? Am I willing to work day after day with no days off,” Montecalvo says. “There was one point [where] I worked 141 straight days without a day off. Am I willing to move to another market? Am I willing to ask the tough questions? If the answer is yes to those questions, go for it. Observe everything, everywhere you go. Take a look around. You’d be surprised at the kind of stories you can find. [And] write write write. Constantly work on your writing and speech – don’t be afraid to get in front of the camera. Read everything. I read every newspaper, magazine, I watch all the other television stations – know what’s going on.”
Additionally, Montecalvo and I spoke about topics not related to journalism and his time at RIC such as what he thinks Rhode Island’s best characteristics are.
The full interview can be seen by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsFw3Qf8kng.