A voice familiar to morning listeners of WBCU radio will no longer be heard unless he’s being interviewed by the station’s news staff as he campaigns for mayor of the City of Union.
WBCU morning announcer and talk show host Mike Stevens announced Tuesday morning that he is leaving the station in order to campaign for mayor in accordance with the law.
“Today, Aug. 14, 2012 is my last day as a staff member at WBCU radio,” Stevens told listeners during his “Let’s Talk” radio show. “The decision to leave is one not without reservation. It is a job that I have dearly loved and that is because of so many of you. My listeners have embraced me and have truly become a great part of who I am. It is not a flippant statement to say I love you all.”
Stevens, who earlier this year announced his candidacy for mayor, said he had to leave WBCU because federal law will not allow him to be both on the air and a candidate.
“The decision to leave WBCU, in reality, is not mine,” Stevens said. “As you know I am a candidate for the Office of Mayor for the City of Union. In accordance with federal law once I become a bonafide candidate I must remove myself from the air. That occurs when I file and pay the six hundred dollar filing fee which will happen before noon Wednesday. I do not believe the law is entirely fair but I do understand and respect the purpose.”
In addition to his leaving the air, Stevens said the commercials he’s recorded for the station can no longer be used while he’s a candidate. He said the station will have to record new versions of these commercials with someone else taking his place.
“Just so you understand the impact of the law, my leaving has created an undue burden on my fellow workers at WBCU,” Stevens said. “Even the commercials I have recorded, as politically benign as they are, must be removed. Over the past nine years I have recorded hundreds of commercials and they must be re-recorded in someone else’s voice. It’s been a lot of work to make this happen but even so my co-workers have been very encouraging. The ordeal involves the ‘equal time ruling.’”
Stevens offered a “special thanks” to WBCU CEO Chris Woodson who he said “has been very understanding, although the matter has caused him some aggravation as he has had to shuffle schedules and make other arrangements.”
WBCU Operations Manager Daniel Prince has taken over Stevens’ duties as morning announcer and host of Let’s Talk.
“I personally will miss him and I wish him well in his endeavors,” Prince said Wednesday. “I’ve got big shoes to fill and I will do the very best I can to continue serving the public.”
Stevens’ career in radio, newspapers, and public relations spans more than five decades and began 52 years ago when he was hired as a part-time announcer for WBCU. He has worked for WBCU at different times during his career, his most recent stint beginning in 2003 when he was hired as morning announcer. Three years later he began hosting Let’s Talk. He also served as the station’s chief operator, handling technical matters. On an as-needed basis he also worked as a reporter.
In addition to radio, Stevens has also been involved with the print media during the course of his career. His first full-time job was as a reporter and then advertising manager for The Union Daily Times. During the course of his career Stevens has also owned and operated two publications and a print shop. He also served as publisher of The Whitmire News.
Stevens’ career has also included five years with the SC Department of Parks, Tourism and Recreation including four years as Public Information Specialist. In his fifth year with the department, he was Public Relations Director at Charles Towne Landing in Charleston. While working at the department, he was placed on special assignment as photographer for former gov. James Edwards.
Stevens has also been heavily involved in politics over the years, serving as district and county chairman of the Republican Party. At one point, he also served as executive committeeman with the State GOP.
In announcing that he was leaving WBCU, Stevens discussed his reasons for leaving and why he feels his running for mayor is the right thing to do despite the uncertainties involved.
“Running for mayor has been a major consideration in the life of my family,” Stevens said. “Leaving a job for three months and having no promise of being able to return and having virtually no income during that period could be considered un-wise. In all honesty, it is an exercise in faith. I am convinced that I have been led to this point in my life. I have been consumed by a desire to serve.”
Stevens said he’s prayed a great deal about running for mayor and he feels that through prayer the rightness of that decision has been confirmed.
“Running for this office has been and will continue to be a matter of prayer,” Stevens said. “My prayers have been answered not so much as an assurance of victory but a confirmation that I am doing the right thing. It’s not about me. It’s about the good people of Union who deserve to have an experienced and committed individual to lead us out of the doldrums of complacency. We have had some tough circumstances to affect our city but that should be behind us now.”
Stevens pointed out that his experience in the media, in politics and in the world of business has prepared him to lead the city forward.
“While there have been some good things to come our way, we can’t sit back and just wait on something else to materialize,” Stevens said. “At the risk of sounding boastful, there is no other candidate in the race that has the background or has in anyway demonstrated the ability to move this great city forward.”
Stevens said his candidacy should not be seen as a criticism of the job Mayor Harold Thompson has done in office.
“I want to say with all sincerity that I am not running against the incumbent Mayor Harold Thompson but I am running for mayor,” Stevens said. “Harold is a good man and has done a credible job of stabilizing this community. But we are well past the time of being satisfied with the status quo. We must aggressively move ahead to put our town in a positive spotlight for all to see.”
Also running for mayor is Union County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Torance Inman. Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce.