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July 20, 2007
V 35 Issue 29

 
 
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Mike Webb: Missed and remembered
Mike Webb: Missed and remembered
Family, friends and fans gather at memorial to remember talk show host

by Lisa Wardle - SGN Staff Writer

As Seattle Police arrested a suspect in the brutal death of 51-year-old radio talk show host Mike K. Webb on Wednesday, July 18, Webb's family, friends and fans gathered to remember him.

Webb's brother, Wayne Webb, spoke during the memorial about growing up with Mike and the kind spirit that was always within his brother. "As a child, Mike, even back then, was a caring individual. He wouldn't hurt a soul, but he always has had a slightly rebellious nature," he said. "He was always very passionate about what he believed in. He said what he thought and believed in what he said. Mike was an extraordinary talent and we will miss him." St. Mark's Cathedral was filled with colorful bouquets, mementos and odes to Webb's life and many accomplishments, including letters from political figures like Bill Clinton, Jim McDermott and Jesse Jackson; photographs of Webb with his partner and his dog, who both preceded him in death; and two listening stations with recordings of clips from Webb's radio broadcasts.

Between the two memorial ceremonies held at St. Mark's, guests were treated to Dick's burgers, the Rockstar beverage, or a cup of coffee in one of the specially made mugs. Those in attendance were encouraged to take one of the "He's liberal with a very loud L" coffee cups with them, as well as a DVD copy of the tribute that KIRO producer Jeremy Grater had pieced together with the help of his wife.

"I can't picture Mike sitting still in any situation. He'd want to celebrate and eat a lot of food," Bob Vesely, a close friend of Webb's, told the Seattle Gay News. "I guess that it hasn't really kicked in yet for me, but this is a celebration."

Co-workers shared memories about certain shows with Mike and his constant tendency to be late. One friend from KIRO noted that Mike would drive in during the last commercial at the end of the news show before his, papers and discs in hand, car on the sidewalk, and swing right into the zone without a second thought.

He had a certain persona on the air that was unlike his general personality. Once a show had ended, Grater remembered going into the studio, with his jaw on the floor, and asking Webb, "Did you really just say that?" Mike wouldn't even recall the words coming from his mouth. That was the kind of person that Webb was, he said. He was strong and opinionated, though perhaps even if he didn't know the true extent to which he could express his views.

Mike was infamous for being able to talk to almost any type of person on the air. He would talk to the most conservative of Christians in such a way that they might grow more accepting of Gays. A friend who had been interviewed by Webb several times recalled the first time that he had ever met Webb: "He had asked me to come on the show and talk about Father's Day, it was Friday and we were taping for Sunday. That day, he had a co-host that was a local football star at the time. Mike had met me just ten minutes before, but he pulled me out and said not to talk about my partner Michael. So, the football player and I had a great conversation about parenting techniques and what's important in raising children for about thirty-five to forty minutes. After forty minutes, Mike asked how my partner Michael felt about it. Mr. Football's jaw dropped and he was stunned. Mike asked what was wrong, he had agreed with about 99 percent of the things that I just said, and Mr. Football said 'I guess nothing'."

Many people responded to his on-air personality. Fans turned into friends as they got to know Webb better; talking to him and actually meeting him. His magnetic nature and colorful attitude drew in a variety of listeners, adding to the varying topics and styles of his shows.

At the age of 11, one young boy first heard Webb's show and was inspired. He had been an activist since he was just nine-years-old, creating the website Anti-Bush.com. "I was staying up late, it was about midnight or so, and after listening to the show I went online to send Mike an e-mail. I said that his show was the best thing I've heard so far, and told him to check out my website. He asked me to come in for an interview and we got to know each other," said Caleb Hayes. "I remember talking to my mom one day about students only being allowed eight tickets for their graduation. I wanted my dad's ticket to go to Mike. He never put me down, my dad did, but Mike would always listen."

Webb enjoyed helping people. He worked with others going through AA and NA, and volunteered his time at peace events. Mike was very generous to Veterans for Peace, and many members found a friend in him. After having been convicted of insurance fraud, Webb did community service at the Washington Talking Books and Braille Library where he shared his talent. He wasn't just there because he needed to be, but was genuinely supportive of the cause and helped with outreach material for the organization.

Throughout the service, many memories were shared and faces of people came together who had never seen one another before. Radio hosts mingled along with fans. Webb's self-appointed "#1 Fan," with a home-made badge claiming the title, was among them.

The family came up from the Bay Area in California for the celebration and learned more about the impact Webb's presence had in Seattle. Everyone learned about a new side of Mike, growing sad but also joyous to have had him as a part of their lives.

"You'd think talking to a guy for five to seven hours each day planning a show you would get to know him, but hearing from you all and his fans, I feel closer to him now that I ever did before. I hope that these stories will help you heal as they much as they have me," said Grater. "I owe a lot to Mike Webb. I don't know that I truly appreciated the talented person I worked with. I know now that anything I work on that I'm not utterly excited about, I'm wasting my time. I wouldn't be the same guy, radio producer or person, without Mike."

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