Born and bred in Balinameen, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, Mike was the third of six children born to Thomas and Mary (Roche) O'Connor. His father was Principal of the local National School, and his mother a trained teacher. Mike arrived in Chicago via New Orleans, via Boston, via Connecticut, via New York, via England...he always loved the adventure that a transfer brought! Now he was in his late 30's with a wife, three little ones and a mortgage. It was time to stick. After working most of his adult life as an underwriter, Mike itched to get back to his first love. Selling. The chance to fulfill his dream was delivered via a pink slip and a severance package. Was it too risky?
Margaret(Mike's wife) decided it time to find herself a job. She returned to the company she worked for when she met Mike almost 10 years previous in Boston; Sears Roebock and Co.. Margaret traveled to Homan Ave daily to the block long property that housed both offices and warehouses. She would continue with Sears until the catalog was eliminated in 1993. This decision gave Mike the freedom to pursue his dream.
Passport photo. Mike with Michael Jr, Siobhainn
and Mary Ellen around 1970.
He continuned to meet and get to know Chicago's enormous Irish community. Mike always enjoyed socializing, so he felt completely comfortable digging in and getting more involved in various clubs and benefits. He regularly volunteered to visit the Gibbons radio program on WOPA radio in Oak Park to publicize upcoming events. Tommy Gibbons Sr got to know and like Mike and noticed how comfortable he felt behind the microphone. Tommy decided that Mike would make a great radio show host. He encouraged him to start his own show. When Mike wavered, worried about the comittment of both time and resources, Tommy convinced him by saying it would allow people to get to know and feel comfortable with him. In other words, it would be good for business!
Mike, always a staunch advocate of the Irish culture, realized he could fill air time with the music he adored even if nothing else interesting was happening in the studio. This alone soothed his jitters.
On November 5, 1971, the Mike O'Connor Show made its debut. Time raced around the clock every week. Mike became so involved in visiting with the folks in the studio, the music, sports, and news from home that most of the time he forgot to mention the fact the he sold insurance. Much to the surprise of Mike and his wife, he LOVED hosting the radio show. Soon he became known around town as Mike O'Connor, radio show host. And, oh yes. He sold insurance too.
Breege Looney (owner of The Abbey Pub) joined the program around 1986, and Mike's daughter Siobhainn came on board in 1991. Mike retired from the show in 2005. The Mike O'Connor Show, now The O'Connor Show, continues today run by Siobhainn O'Connor with Breege Looney and Margaret O'Connor manning the other mikes.
*information found on http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1971.ht