Long-time Michigan broadcasting executive, Michael O. Lareau, died on April 26, 2019 in Grand Rapids at the age of 94. Visitation will be at the O’Brien-Gerst Funeral Home on Sunday, April 28 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Grand Rapids at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, April 29.
A native of Detroit, Mike served as a United States Navy Pilot from 1942 to 1949 before earning a Teaching degree from the University of Detroit. Mike’s introduction to broadcasting began as an Account Executive for WWJ Radio in Detroit from 1952 to 1955. Yearning to land a Radio management job, Mike and his young family headed west to Grand Rapids in 1955 when he accepted the Sales Manager position with WOOD-AM 1300, then owned by Time-Life, Inc.
In 1959, Mike was promoted to General Manager of WOOD Radio AM 1300. With its sign-on in 1962, WOOD-FM 105.7 debuted as America’s third most powerful FM Radio station by virtue of its massive 265,000 watt signal. Mike guided the station to its historic achievement as the first FM station in the United States to attain a #1 listenership rank.
In 1972, Mike Lareau, Willard “Bill” Schroeder, Clifford Christianson, Edsko Hekman, and Jay Vandenberg purchased WOOD AM/FM from Time-Life, upon which Mike became the Executive Vice-President and General Manager. He and his partners sold the WOOD stations to Grace Broadcasting in 1984, and as President of Grace, Mike oversaw its stations in Rochester, NY; Killeen, TX; Salinas/Monterey, CA; and Grand Rapids.
Throughout his 35-year career at the helm of WOOD AM/FM, the stations perpetually dominated the Radio market in Grand Rapids by virtue of unparalleled community service and unmatched audience and revenue achievements.
Mike also served the Radio industry as a member of the National Association of Radio Broadcasters Board of Directors; member of the Board of Directors for the Radio Advertising Bureau; and President of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.
Because of his devotion to the broadcasting industry, excellence in his profession and service to the citizens of Michigan, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters recognized Mike as its third Lifetime Achievement Award Winner in 1991.
Mike was a long-time supporter of countless Grand Rapids community organizations, including the effort behind the creation of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids. He also served as President of the Peninsula Club, and Cascade Country Club.
See Michael O. Lareau’s published obituary here.