Mike Yam joined ESPN as an anchor in October 2008. Before that, he worked as a sports talk host at Sirius Satellite Radio and for NBATV. Mike is a graduate of Fordham University. Find him on Twitter: @Mike_Yam.
What is your life motto? What did you wish you knew before becoming a journalist?
What advice would you give new journalists? If you believe in yourself, you can achieve your goals. My advice would be to enjoy the process. I was so preoccupied with getting my first job that I forgot that this is really a cool process. Of course, you must practice and get reps. Like Mike Breen, who’s also a Fordham guy, told me: “If you want to be on air, then get on air (anywhere).”
Why did you decide to become a journalist?
My original goal was premed, to be a pediatrician. After my freshman year in chemistry, I felt it was time to reassess. I thought I could be a doctor-on-TV type deal. There were opportunities in radio at Fordham. My parents were very supportive of my career path.
Why is media diversity important to you?
I’m watching sports on TV and I always saw Michael Kim, one of the only Asian guys to do this. I feel it’s crucial to identify with different cultures, on-air or behind the scenes. Then we don’t see things only one way. You need the rainbow’s colors when you’re watching TV. I feel I can share the influences that I’ve had. It’s different cultures getting together and putting out a product.
What do you love most about being Asian American?
The Jeremy Lin thing was exciting, just like seeing Michael Kim on TV. It’s Asians making an impact. Do you know how many [Asians] want to be an on-air guy or producer but don’t have anyone to latch onto? There’s no doubt how successful you can be in this business. Darn right we know our sports. To me, it’s huge to be in this position. It’s crazy. It’s also humbling. There’s a special feeling.
Any particularly interesting facts about your experiences or background?
I once coached a swim team and worked as a lifeguard at the pool … flip-flops and suntan lotion every day. I got to go to work and work on my tan.
Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.