By Keysha Drexel
Mike Royer has done a lot of public speaking in his almost 40-year career in television, but the award-winning news anchor says his next speaking engagement might be tough.
Mike, the co-anchor of Alabama’s 13 newscasts and producer of “The Spirit of Alabama,” will be the keynote speaker at the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon on Feb. 7 at The Club.
He has emceed the event twice before but said this is his first time as the luncheon’s keynote speaker.
“This could be a challenge because I can fly out to Omaha and those people haven’t heard all my stories. I’ll be speaking on the home court here, and most people here have heard my stories,” he said.
Mike said he rarely speaks to groups without sharing some of the inspiring stories he has heard during his career in television.
He said hearing those stories and sharing them is what he likes best about his job.
“My favorite part of the job is meeting the people I get to feature in ‘Spirit of Alabama’ because the people I meet challenge me and inspire me to do better,” he said. “They come from completely different walks of life most of the time, and I feel really lucky to have met them and to be able to share their stories.”
Mike said he hopes he will challenge and inspire those attending the chamber luncheon with the stories he has gathered over the years.
“I want to make them smile, too. I am flattered and excited to be able to do this,” he said.
Mike said he will also speak about what he sees as a community responsibility to do a better job of educating children.
“On a serious note, I will talk about how some of our young people don’t have the general knowledge they need,” he said.
Young people need to pay attention to the news and current events more, Mike said, in order to have the background knowledge they need to contribute to society.
“We need a well-educated electorate that understands the process and knows about the things happening around them,” he said.
Mike said he will also talk about why he thinks Mountain Brook is a great place to live, work and do business.
Mike, his wife Amy and their two sons, Jack and Will, have lived in Mountain Brook for about 11 years.
“We chose to move to Mountain Brook so that our children could attend the great schools, and we love living here,” he said. “If you choose to make Mountain Brook your home, it truly feels like your home because you feel a real community bond.”
The importance of community bonds is something Mike said he learned growing up on a farm in Clay City, Ind.
“It was very rural, very country. I wouldn’t take anything for that upbringing and the values I was taught there,” he said.
After high school, Mike left the Indiana farm to attend college in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“My parents strongly encouraged me to go to a Christian school, so I went to Tennessee Temple University. It was a small school and the place where I first got a taste for broadcasting,” he said.
Mike didn’t begin his broadcasting career on television, however.
“The school had a radio station and at that time, I had no idea that being on television was a real job. The very first time I was ever on the air at the radio station, I said the shortest, most fervent prayer you’ve ever heard, and if I’m lucky enough to know when my last time on the air is, I would like to open with a prayer then, too,” he said.
Mike got his first job in television at WTWO in Terre Haute, Ind., in 1975.
“I had one suit, a navy sport coat, and that was it. I just knew it was something I had to give my best shot,” he said.
In 1979, Mike came to Birmingham for a job at what is now Fox 6 and what he thought was a temporary stay in Alabama.
“I thought I’d be here for about a year and now it has been more than 30 years, and I still count myself as one of the lucky ones to be able to do what I do every day,” he said.
Mike said his viewers have probably learned a lot about him from the kinds of stories he has covered over the years.
“If you’ve seen my work, you pretty much know what my values are and what kind of person I am. I’m such an open book in that way,” he said.
But what most people might not know about him, Mike said, is that he has a specialty in the kitchen.
“I make the best apple pie you’ll ever taste. It’s Grandma Royer’s recipe, and my mother taught me how to make it,” he said.
When he’s not working, Mike said he likes to be home in Mountain Brook, away from the cameras and enjoying his family.
“I do what I do at work and then I go home and concentrate on raising my boys. I like having those things separated because there are just some things you want to keep for yourself, like your time with your family,” he said.
Mike has been named Alabama’s Best Television Weathercaster by the Associated Press News Service five times. He won a regional Emmy nomination for Outstanding News Anchor and as a member of the news team at Alabama’s 13 News that won an Emmy for Best Newscast.