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Get To Know Michael Monks

michael monks

If you're going to hear Michael Monks every weekday at noon on WVXU's local news show Cincinnati Edition, you might as well get to know him a little, right? Herewith, Monks shares his top tips for public speaking (he teaches a class on it at Indiana's Ivy Tech, you know); the most memorable local news story he's covered thus far; his favorite lunch spot; and more. 

What's your guilty pleasure?
I spend an inordinate amount of time playing Nintendo, and fell in love this year with Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I also play a lot of Wheel Of Fortune on the Nintendo Switch and think I'm ready to audition for the real thing!

Another guilty pleasure is Little Caesar's on a Saturday night, with old episodes of American Experience on the PBS app.

(I’m mostly an indoor cat.)

What does you being in this role mean for Cincinnati Edition?
I think people can expect to hear more of a blend of the following: original reporting, upbeat interviews, strong news-oriented conversations, games, humor, creative story-telling, and a focus on the local arts scene.

I'm prone to creative streaks and impulses - so it's also safe to say, who knows what's going to happen? (With apologies in advance to my new bosses.)

If you weren't a journalist, what would you be doing?
If I could do anything - with all the necessary skills required - I would be the head coach of an NCAA division I men's basketball team.

I love the sport, but more than that, I love the theatrics of being on the sideline, from a dramatic toss of a sports coat in frustration to the understated storylines that can follow a post-game handshake. There is no more exciting profession in America. Man, I'd love to throw a fit and be ejected from an arena.

If I were relegated to my own skills and reality, I'd probably teach communication full time at a small community college in northern Michigan. They have really great fudge there and you can pretty much wear a sweater all year long.

What are your favorite local blogs to read and/or podcasts you listen to?
My favorite podcast isn't a local one - it's BBC's Witness, which I discovered while driving to my previous radio gig in the early morning hours (the show airs on WVXU at 4:50 a.m.).

I follow Rob Bucher’s Behind the Curtain Cincinnati for theatre coverage.

And, of course, John Kiesewetter’s media blog!

Most memorable news story you've ever covered?
No matter how many hard stories I cover, nothing will ever top the 2016 Great Goat Escape, when the Goebel Goats broke free before a parade and had the run of Covington for the better part of a day - all with me chasing them for multiple hours with a live Facebook feed going. I’ll never live it down - and wouldn’t even want to!

It was all worth it, even being known as "Goat Boy" since.

Where do you like to take visitors?
I love to walk - so I know a lot of great paths to take in the urban core, but my favorite is to take folks to Riverside Drive in Covington to enjoy the antebellum mansions and the Cincinnati skyline view.

You teach public speaking at Ivy Tech. What are your top two tips for being a better public speaker?
The key to a successful speech is confidence, first. Know that people are there to listen to you, so say what you have to say with strength and courage. If a joke doesn't land or you stumble over a word, move on quickly - don't let little things stop your flow.

And by the way, nothing helps confidence more than practice. Say/read your speech out loud no fewer than six times. This will ease your mind when mistakes or stumbles happen and, more importantly, allow you to better connect with the audience through eye contact.

Secondly, vary your vocals! Monotone speeches are boring and will cost you the audience. Know when to speak softly, loudly, with love, with passion, with whatever it takes to keep the audience engaged and to move them throughout your remarks.

Favorite local lunch spot?
Frank's Old Town Cafe in Covington is a staple of my diet - and that's probably true for anybody who has lived or worked in downtown Covington for the past 30 years!

The conversation - and the gossip - are as good as the food.

If you could have one guest on the show dead or alive who would it be?
It should be known that I simply like to talk - especially into a mic, and even more especially with someone else on a mic. That is to say, I'm ready and eager to interview anyone with something interesting to say.

As a journalist, I'd covet a long-form interview with Hillary Clinton or Mitch McConnell.

As a fan of the business side of Hollywood, I'd love to talk to TV producer Ryan Murphy, who lives my ideal life.

My media idol is Bill Maher, so I'd seize any opportunity to chat him up!

I also love Larry David - but I feel like I'd just get on his nerves.

Monks debuts on Cincinnati Edition Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. 

Jennifer Merritt brings 15 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU, having served in various digital roles for such legacy publications as InStyle and Parade, as well as start-ups like Levo League and iVillage. She helped these outlets earn several awards, including MIN's 2015 Digital Team of the Year. She graduated from Rutgers University with a journalism major and English minor and has continued her education with professional development classes through the Poynter Institute, Columbia University and PMJA. Before moving to Cincinnati from New York in 2016, she vowed her son would always call it "soda" and not "pop." She has so far been successful in this endeavor.