Friend or foe: Mike's still a radio wonder

WNRN founder and general manager Mike Friend is no stranger to controversy. His falling out with WTJU still prompts him to take jabs at his former employer. Recently, Friend has been involved in a very public battle with another weekly newspaper, the type of skirmish that ends with, "You'll be hearing from my lawyer."

Okay, so Friend has his prickly side. But that's not the reason he's in the Hot Seat. Against all odds, he founded a successful, commercial-free modern rock radio station leaving many a naysayer publicly proved wrong.

Even Friend admits he had his doubts. Flash forward six years from August 29, 1996, the day WNRN 91.9 FM went on the air. Did he really think a station that's run on a shoestring budget of $250,000 would make it this far?

"I was a lot more sure we'd be successful once we got on the air than I was that we'd get on the air in the first place," he says.

Friend has been busy getting ready for WNRN's fall fundraiser that kicked off September 23, an inevitable fact of life for listener-supported radio. And with only three full-time staffers at the station, he manages to inspire a cadre of volunteers to keep the station on the air 24/7.

As for how Friend ended up in radio in the first place, it's pretty simple. "It started with liking the music, and not being a musician."

Age: Thirtysomething but you better publish quick!

What brought you here? Grad school at UVA

What's worst about living here? The traffic and some arrogant people

Favorite hangout? The Outer Banks, but to be more specific is a secret.

Most overrated virtue? Engineering talent. I do what I have to. I'm a program/promotions person.

What would people be surprised to know about you? I used to teach school.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Pick from taller, richer, thinner.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? WNRN

What do people find most annoying about you? [My] focus

Whom do you admire? Anyone who beats the system

Favorite book? Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek

What subject causes you to rant? Waste

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Computers

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? Computers

What do you drive? Hyundai Elantra and Isuzu Trooper

What's in your car CD player right now? Moby, Jimmy Eat World, 50 Million DJs

What's your next journey? North Carolina

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? A liquor-running operation in high school

What do you regret? Not pursuing a certain female enough.

Favorite comfort food? Gourmet pizza

What's always in your refrigerator? Cheese, yogurt, fruit

Must-see TV? Anything Star Trek related

Favorite cartoon? Beavis and Butthead

 Describe a perfect day. Everyone I meet does what they say they're going to do.

Walter Mitty fantasy? Baseball hero

Who'd play you in the movie? Some days Dustin Hoffman, other days Arnold Schwarzenegger

Most embarrassing moment? I really can't think of one.

Best advice you ever got? Get out of public education.

Favorite bumper sticker? If you can read this, you're too close.