Northwest Business Magazine

Michelle Marcomb: The Little Things Matter Most

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She never expected to have a career on-air, but she’s found plenty of fun creating unique promotions and on-air laughs with B103’s morning show.

Michelle Marcomb and co-host Shawn Henry share plenty of laughs with listeners during the B103 morning show. The duo also host wacky promotions, including a competition to meet 1,000 fans. (Dustin Waller photo)

Michelle Marcomb never aspired to be a radio on-air personality, but life sometimes has a funny way of working things out.

Since May, Marcomb has co-hosted the B103 morning show with Sean Henry. This came about because, as the station’s promotions director, she had filled in occasionally on the morning show.

“We work well together,” Marcomb says. “I’m the sister that he never wanted. We love to tease each other.”

Marcomb has been in the radio business for 13 years. She was working for a small equipment company in Roscoe, Ill., when she heard a commercial that said the radio station was looking for a sales assistant. She applied, was hired, and joined the team at Maverick Media, which is now Mid-West Family Broadcasting, quickly working her way up to promotions director in 2003.

But the transition was rough in the beginning. “I thought they were going to fire me,” Marcomb says. “I had never worked in radio or media. They were using terminology I had never heard before. I had to work my way into it.”

Marcomb grew up in Sterling, Ill., relocated to Madisonville, Texas, and at age 13, moved back to Sterling.

At Sterling Newman Catholic High School, Marcomb was an active participant in choir and school musicals, playing roles such as Brigitta von Trapp in a performance of The Sound of Music. During school, she also worked at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) as part of a vocational training. After attending classes in the morning, Marcomb went to work in the afternoon handling clerical duties at IDOT in Dixon. “It was a great experience,” she says. “It really taught me a lot about the work world.”

Following high school, Marcomb attended Northern Illinois University. She left school about two years later, when her father’s ongoing health issues worsened. “The financial burden of my education became too much for my parents,” she says.

Marcomb’s dad, Tim McGinn, became a paraplegic at 19, when he was electrocuted during a work injury. McGinn brushed up against a live wire that sent 30,000 volts of electricity through his body and knocked him off a building. He broke his neck and back and severed his spinal cord in the freak accident. Marcomb says doctors predicted her father wouldn’t live past 40, but he was almost 63 when he died last year.

Despite never seeing her father walk, Marcomb and her family made the most out of a difficult situation. “My dad was a tough Irishman,” she recalls. “And my mom, Debbie, was rock solid and stood by her husband for more than 42 years.” Marcomb has an older brother, Tim Jr. “Family has always been important in my life. I know that my family will always be there, no matter what.”

A few years ago, Marcomb was honored by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce as a “40 Leader Under 40.” Her father was in attendance at the ceremony, cheering on his daughter. “That was the best part,” she says. “He was so proud.”

Marcomb was comfortable working behind the scenes at the radio station until Dean Ervin, a host on sister station 100.5 NTA FM, encouraged her to try a new role. “He thought I’d be a good co-host for the Saturday Shopper show,” she says. “I wouldn’t be on air if it wasn’t for him. He gave me my first chance.” Marcomb co-hosted the shopping show for six years before taking on the B103 morning slot.

“Michelle has the type of personality where she can talk with a smile on her face,” says Ervin. “I love her spirit. I saw someone who’s fiery, quick-witted, fun and does a nice job representing the stations to the community. She’s very good at what she does, and will continue to get better and better.”

Marcomb’s enthusiasm and good-natured manner complement Henry’s personality well. Along with playing music, the duo has come up with several bits that have been a hit with listeners. “I love meeting people and learning their stories,” Marcomb says. “The most fun is having people repeat things that I’ve said on the air. They really do listen to what we have to say.” She notes that getting up at 4 a.m. for work is not the fun part of the job.

Last fall, Marcomb and Henry devised a contest called “Race to 1K,” in which they competed to see who could meet 1,000 people first. Marcomb says she won the contest by visiting several local retail outlets and hosting events such as a night at the Rockford Speedway. She’s also kicked field goals with the Lutheran High School football team and faced one of her fears by visiting a haunted house.

“I think she’s unleashed portions of her personality that a lot of people didn’t know she had,” says Henry. “We had chemistry on day one, but we didn’t have the knowledge of how the other person thinks. The more we’re together, the better we are. I hope we can create a brand that people are interested in spending some time with.”

As promotions director, Marcomb plans and organizes special events for B103 and all of the other stations within the company. Her duties range from preparing contest rules to helping put together music festivals such as Wing Ding and Rock Monkey Ruckus, charity golf outings, and other events. “I’m the behind-the-scenes person,” she says. “I like to think that I’m the one who puts the ingredients together and places them in a basket.”

In her spare time, Marcomb stays busy with her two active children, Avery, 10, and Davin, 16. Last year, she and Avery participated in Rockford’s Dancing With the Stars fundraiser. They worked with a professional teacher from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio for a month, and performed in front of a sold-out audience. “It was so much fun,” she says.

A devoted baseball fan, Marcomb is also a baseball mom to Davin, who plays on the East High School varsity baseball team. She loves volunteering with her children – bell ringing, wrapping Christmas presents, and buying presents for children in need. “It’s necessary to show them the importance of giving back,” she says. “It’s heartwarming to see kids get it. They know there are kids who don’t have what they have.”

Marcomb is also a voracious reader. She grew up reading books about King Tut, and fulfilled a dream-come-true when she visited the Tut exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. She’ll read anything from historical fiction to biographies. “I love history,” she says.

Working for a radio station, Marcomb has developed a taste for all types of music. Among her favorite artists are Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, Prince, Mumford & Sons and the Beatles. “It’s whatever I’m in the mood for at the time,” she says.

She adores Marilyn Monroe, with whom she shares a June 1 birthday. Marcomb collects Monroe artifacts including photographs, framed posters and Monroe-themed Barbie dolls. “It’s that mystery,” Marcomb says. “She was the opposite of what people thought. She was highly intelligent, knew how to play the game and made lots of money.”

For Marcomb, however, life is more than just about collecting “stuff.” It’s about being happy, and being surrounded by those she cares for most deeply. That’s why she recently got a tattoo on her back that simply reads: ‘It’s the little things that matter most.’

“It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to be important,” she says. “It can be a ‘thank you,’ a small gift, an act of love or just remembering something important. It really is the little things that matter the most.”

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