Elrick: Late Mike Clark had strange career path to becoming radio icon

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By M.L. Elrick
FOX 2 Investigative Reporter

Few radio icons have had a stranger career path than Mike Clark.
Clark who passed away suddenly Tuesday at 63, once drove an ambulance, worked for a computing firm, and the gas company. 

"He didn't know any rules and he didn't follow any," said Drew Lane.

Clark's long-time partner Drew Lane says Clark got his start calling into a morning show on WRIF and doing the traffic as a character he created called Mr. Stress.

Clark would call in from his day job at the gas company and end his updates as Mr. Stress by slamming down the phone. His gas company colleagues weren't amused.

"He was breaking phones, so he was going to different cubes and people we're going 'What's with all the phones here?'" Lane said.

Clark and his raw talent eventually joined Lane as his full-time partner for more than 20 years on the top-rated Drew and Mike Show on WRIF.

"He had no experience, he had no desire to learn, he just had the microphone and that was really all he needed," Lane said.

Clark was known for his strong opinions and interests, some of which might best be described as fetishes that we can't go into on a family station.

He also pushed the, let's say envelope, with characters like "Butt Mike."

"When you start having success, you sort of feel like, well, we can get away with this. what are they going to do, fire us?" Lane said. "And so, yeah, Mike started farting on the microphone and honestly I was like, oh, really? But people laughed - and he was always about the laugh."

While he could be strident and unreserved on the air, Lane says Clark was a very private person.

"He's hard to explain, I just think really he was - he was very much everyman," Lane said. "He had a long marriage, he loved his wife, he loved his dog. He loved his rock 'n roll."

True to form, Clark said his favorite interview of all time was with Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones.

"He was fantastic," Clark said in a previous interview. "We had 12 minutes with him. Just to hear him his voice, to hear him say 'Hey, Mike,' it was like, so cool."

Clark frequently spoke on the air about his passion for flying, be it the plane he owned and kept in Oakland County or the remote control helicopters he kept promising to bring into the studio. A running gag on the show revolved around when, if ever, Clark would get his sea plane pilot rating.

"He was a pilot and he was very proud of that," Lane said. "He had a plane and I think that would have been one of the last things to go, he would have been homeless with a plane. He would have been plane poor."

Lane is still trying to grasp that his old friend is gone, but he says he knows this much - Clark would love the fuss people are making over him.

"I just think he would love all this attention," Lane said. "That's really what I was thinking about today. He would love it."

And so, since we can, we've tapped into our archives to give Clark the last word: "What I want to say to the people of Detroit is thank you very much for your loyalty, your love and support."

Rest In Peace, Mike Clark.