Monday, September 14, 2015

Celebrate 1 Year of Mike's Unhappy Hour

Over the past few years of doing this little website called Hip In Detroit, we have met a lot of awesome people and have made some great friends. One of those friends is a guy named Mike Sickinger. We first met Mike when he was working for a beer company, and since then we have had the pleasure of drinking several beers with Mike and getting to know him better. During the time that we've known him, Mike has branched out professionally and worked on a few different projects. One of those projects is an awesome show on Cave Radio, called Mike's Unhappy Hour

Mike's Unhappy Hour is an internet radio show where Mike and his co-hosts talk about everything alcohol related. Bars, brews, events, the list goes on and on. We had the pleasure of being guests on MUH earlier this year to talk about our 3rd Anniversary Bash and it was a blast! Mike is smart, interesting, and funny, three things that make for a great host. 

The show is gearing up to celebrate an anniversary of their own, as they are now 1 year old. They are going to be partying at M-Brew in Ferndale this Tuesday, September 15th. The crew will be there broadcasting live, so you can stop by and have a drink with them! That night M-Brew is also having an event called Brew & Bites. It's a strolling dinner, featuring Arcadia Ales and tasty food from M-Brew's menu. Take a look at the list of food and drinks that will be available below.
Tickets for this event are $28. So you have two great ways that you can celebrate MUH's Anniversary, either join in on the Brew & Bites fun or do your own thing at the bar. Either way, it's going to be a great time! 

We wanted to catch up with Mike to talk about the show, the past year, and what's next for Mike's Unhappy Hour. Check out what he had to say below. 

HID- What's the idea behind Mike's Unhappy Hour and how did you come up with the show?
Mike- The concept behind Mike's Unhappy Hour (MUH) is basically talking about alcohol and the industry while trying to be informative and entertaining at the same time. I've spent most of my life, since I was 18, one way or another in the alcohol industry.

Before I launched the show, I listened to a lot of the alcohol podcasts that were already out there. There seemed to only be two types. Type 1 was the overly pretentious NPR style show where they talked in their best church voice and droned on about all the specifics until the listener was fighting to stay awake. Type 2 was the megadrunk before the show even started bunch of shitfaced guys talking while attempting to get more drunk. I wanted to try to find a decent balance of the two. 

I had been approached by a couple of the local internet radio stations in Detroit about coming on and doing a show. At the time, I honestly had no idea what I would have for a concept of a show. Then, last summer, I went to a beer festival up in Frankenmuth and after the festival was over I sat around talking with some of the brewery reps from different Michigan breweries and some of the volunteers. We were talking like bar people talk, jumping from topic to topic, and swearing up a storm. This to me was the perfect idea for a radio show, to give people a raw unpolished peek behind the curtain.

HID- Why did you want to do a radio show in the first place? 
Mike- I was doing a lot of interviews for my day job and I had two of the internet radio stations approach me to the effect of, “You're funny as fuck, you should have a show.” I think there was a bit of ego involved in the beginning, but overall it ended up being cathartic. I was given the ability to just be unfiltered for two hours a week and could let loose. Basically it's like therapy, except that it's fun and I'm allowed to get drunk and high.

Little did I know that in the year since we started that about 20 other Michigan based drinking shows would spring up with similar concepts.

HID- So Mike's Unhappy Hour obviously has a little bit to do with drinking. What's the best beer that you've ever had? 
Mike- That is a little bit of a loaded question. It's hard to really pinpoint one. I'm a malt whore, so my standards are stouts, porters, ambers, reds, and marzens. That's why I always have a craft beer expert on my show. I launched the show with Bill as my expert and currently have my co-hosts Doug Neubeck and Scott “Fun Side” Wymer to fill that role. They are more capable of correctly rating the styles that I don't generally gravitate towards. 

A lot of the country's regions are defined by the beer they put out. For example, the Pacific Northwest is mostly very hoppy bitter beer. Michigan is becoming home to very creative and unusual beer. Founders, Right Brain, Shorts, OddSide Ales, The Hideout, Unity Vibration and many others are leading the pack in tasty, comprehensive, complex, and unique brews. 

If I have to list off some favorites: 
DRIPA (Kuhnhenn
Naughty Girl Stout (Right Brain
Edmund Fitzgerald (Great Lakes Brewing Company
Under The Kilt Wee Heavy (Dragonmead
Boffo Brown Ale (Dark Horse
ESB Amber (Saugatuck)

HID- What's your go to drink? 
Mike- Not beer. It's weird to have a beer show and to not be a huge drinker of it. I still drink beer, but not as often as I used to. I have mostly moved on to a lot of Michigan owned spirits and ciders. I'm a giant, massive fan of Blake's Hard Cider, to the point where I had a little bit of a fanboy moment when I met Andrew Blake. You can find me in a bar most nights drinking a Blake's with one hand with a Cabresto Tequila, Detroit CityDistillery or Journeyman's in the other. 

If I am looking to get wrecked, there is a Scottish alcoholic ginger beer called Crabbie's. Splash in some liquor of your choosing and you have alcohol on top of alcohol. The perfect mix for a night of bad decisions.

HID- What's the worst drink/beer you've ever had? 
Mike- Well, we initiate every new guest with a shot of Jeppson's Malört. We have friends bring it back from Chicago. It's the very bitter tasting liqueur who prides itself on tasting like being picked on in the fifth grade or like the day your dad left. Beyond that, we tasted Pizza Beer on the show this year. Pizza Beer is brewed with oregano, basil, and other spices that you would find in pizza sauce. It tasted exactly like pizza, so I'm sure they hit the mark they were aiming for, but it made everyone on the show gag and hate themselves for about 45 minutes. 

Also, I know they are huge right now, but I think a lot of the hard root beers taste like absolute garbage. Unbalanced and overly boozy. Not Your Father's Root Beer and Coney Island Hard Root Beer are the better ones of the group. With Coney Island being probably the most sessionable. However, if any one reading this has knowledge of any Root Beer flavored vodka from Hard Luck Candy Vodka still in stores, please email me at the address at the bottom of this post.

HID- I know you probably don't like to play favorites, but what's your favorite bar? 
Mike- I will play favorites when it comes to bars. I F-U-C-K-I-N-G LOVE SMALL'S. It's like my version of Cheers. We did my birthday show there this year with Bump-n-Uglies, Devious Ones, SUB, and Harlow and we were able to broadcast live there on Paczki Day. Also, when my mom passed away in May, once the word got out, the first string of texts and phone calls of support that I received were from the staff and ownership of Small's. Small's feels like family to me. Correction: Small's is family to me. 

Aside from Small's, I like dirty divey shithole bars, but those are becoming a thing of the past as the resurgence of Detroit progresses. I prefer bars that have live music over DJs. I have the bar preferences of a 50 year old man. 

HID- Over the past year you guys have had a lot of guests on and done a lot of fun things on the show. Who was your favorite guest so far? What was your favorite show? 
Mike- Can I kiss a little ass and say Hip In Detroit? You are one of our most downloaded episodes, seriously. 

One of my favorite experiences was that we were the first radio anything to be invited to broadcast from the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Festival. As a show, we are incredibly honored to have that privilege and distinction. We got amazing interviews and soundbites from Dark Horse, Kuhnhenn, Right Brain, Beards Brewing, New Holland and more. It was also where we had breweries from around the state coming up to us who knew who we are and told us they were fans of the show. It felt like we finally got that seal of approval from the community that we support and are fans of. One brewer told us that we were the third best craft beer show, which considering that there are hundreds if not thousands out there, I will take as a huge compliment. 

Honestly though, some of my favorite episodes are the ones that are more serious. I firmly believe that if you have a soap box, use it for a good cause. Every few months we do a serious show where we cover topics like suicide, depression, addiction, and drunk driving. 

Drinking can be fun, but there is the dark side to it. A side that many people succumb to. I've got a lot of demons. I've attempted suicide numerous times. I constantly fight the battle against depression. I have friends who have DUIs and friends who have been killed by drunk drivers. We have brought on members of Downtown Brown and the Infatuations who are in recovery, local police departments, MADD advocates and therapists. I have been that guy who is lost and feels like he has no hope or no friends in the world. I want to give back and let people know that there is help to pull them from whatever ledge they are hanging off of.

HID- Tell us about the big 1 Year bash on Tuesday! Why M-Brew? What can fans expect?
Mike- So our actual one year anniversary was September 8th, but that was the Tuesday after Labor Day and we figured people would be partied out or if they have kids they would be dealing with the first day back bullshit. We decided on doing it the following Tuesday on September 15th. It should be an awesome time. 

We originally had the idea for a complete takeover with bands playing, a pinball tournament, crazy prizes and contests, and other insane shit. During the planning stage we had another opportunity arise (more on that later) so we decided to scale back a little bit. It will be the MUH you know and love, just live and loud. We make it a point to bring a PA system to all our live remotes. We did the first few without one and people were staring at us and making the gesture that they couldn't hear us. We felt like idiots. Every bar, brewery or nightclub's job is to sell a fantasy or an experience. We were ruining that fantasy by just taking up a bunch of space and not interacting. Now, we interview random people in the bar, do various contests to give stuff away, and we have even learned to somewhat behave if there are children in the area. The last one is not an easy feat since I use fuck like it's the letter E, especially when I'm drinking.

I always wanted to do a broadcast from M-Brew. It has a really interesting vibe and the beer selection is Michigan only and constantly rotating. The fact that it is next door to Valentine Distillery is pretty awesome as well. Back when I was at Raw Radio X, MUH's first ever live broadcast was supposed to be at M-Brew, but we couldn't get the timetables to match up for everyone involved and had to cancel it. One of the guys from Cave Radio Broadcasting stopped in over the summer at M-Brew and told them the network has a drinking show and they should work on doing a live remote here. It was really just as simple as sending a text to their PR person. 

Then two weeks after we had set the date I got a call from M-Brew saying that they wanted to relaunch their Brew & Bites strolling beer dinner events. Brew & Bites is a very casual beer dinner where people can walk around all of M-Brew and sample food and beer at several different stations. They already had Arcadia Ales out of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek interested in jumping on. For us, it was a win-win situation. You can come hang out with us, not pay a cover, but have to pay for your food and beer or you can pay $28 and get to sample some of Arcadia's best beers and pig out on M-Brew's catering. Normally they cap Brew & Bite tickets at 50 people, but M-Brew opened it up to 100 tickets for the 15th. Tickets for Brew and Bites are limited, so we do recommend buying your ticket at M-Brew in advance or by calling (248) 542-2739. 

HID- What's next for Mike's Unhappy Hour? Any big plans for your second year? 
Mike- We have a show that we are putting together that will take place at Small's on Thursday, September 24th. The details will be released this week. We are in talks with a big local/small national acts, but because of contract issues we can't reveal details until the 16th. What I can say is that we will be raising money for a little girl who is in need of a kidney transplant and that her father is a brewer for a local brewery. We have a few other breweries that will be donating raffle items as well. 

In our first year we did so many amazing things. I threw myself the birthday party. We broadcasted live on Paczki Day from Small's, Saint Patrick's Day from Kuhnhenn and Thomas Magee's, the Ypsi Beer Fest, and the Great Food Challenge at Pat O'Brien's and Three Blind Mice Irish Pub. We sponsored Downtown Brown's final show at the Magic Stick (before it transitioned into Populux) and we sponsored a burlesque festival in Cleveland. In the coming year, we definitely want to keep up the tradition of being anywhere people are drinking and celebrating. 

We are also planning on being the first Detroit based internet radio show to broadcast from the other side of the river in Windsor. The Canadian craft scene has developed rapidly and Windsor and Detroit share a very sordid alcohol history due to prohibition. 

We are adding a female engineer to the show in a few weeks and moving Scott off of the boards and to more of a IT and Social Media position. We are launching another spin off show. Doug and I currently do Head and the Donger, which is basically a parody on all the morning radio shows you hear around Metro Detroit. Our goal is to be as vulgar as humanly possible. We are in the final stages of launching a home brewing based show called Homeward Brewed, which will be hosted by Doug and Scott. The owners at Cave Radio Broadcasting have been very receptive in allowing us to build our brand within theirs. I am also in talks about developing a skin care and make up show and some other life and style programs because I feel that the market is there for them. Most of the newer shows I will just produce and help conceptualize. I will let the hosts handle their own material and content, since I know shit about a lot of style and trend issues.

Another thing that we are working towards is developing our own line of beers out into the marketplace. We have talked with a few local breweries about doing some one offs and special releases of MUH beer.

HID- Anything else you would like our readers to know? 
Mike- First off, we are looking for a female co-host with a strong bar background or a deep knowledge of craft spirits. Must be comfortable with strong language and speaking on the radio. If anyone out there is interested, email the show at The same goes for any bars, breweries, or distilleries that would like to be on the show. We also play local punk, rock, and metal, so any bands that would like to have their music played on the radio can email us as well. Bonus points if the song is alcohol related. 

Secondly, I always close the show by saying “Be safe, drive safe,” and I mean it. We live in an incredibly fucked up world. A world full of misguided hate and violence. A world and a society where bad shit is waiting for us around every corner. As we move forward as people, be respectful to one another, regardless of race, gender, skin color, sexual preference, or economic standing. People make choices that you may not agree with, but you should respect their decision as theirs. If not, well fuck you. You are part of the problem. 

Thank you.
Be safe. Drive Safe. 

Listen to Mike's Unhappy Hour every Tuesday evening from 6-8 p.m. on You can also listen to past episodes of the show here. Make sure you head over and give MUH a "like" on Facebook too so you can stay in the loop on the show and what Mike and the crew are up to. 

The big anniversary party runs from 6-9 p.m. this Tuesday night. For more information on that, click here

Congratulations Mike and the MUH crew! We hope this next year is even better than the last. Cheers!


No comments:

Post a Comment