A Bird’s Eye View
An evening with Knoxville’s only airborne reporter, Pete Michaels
By Cindi Alpert
Recently my husband and I had the pleasure of joining Pilot’s Pilot Pete “Michaels” Lancellotti and his wife, Jean, for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, Altruda’s. Within just a couple of minutes, we quickly realized we had a lot in common with Pete in addition to our love for fine Italian food. For one, I got my start in broadcasting as a traffic reporter for a company called Metro Networks. I joked with Pete about some of my on-air names back in the day including Lane Weaver, Elaine Change, Ivana Merge and my personal favorite, Helen Wheels. My husband, Jeff, also my business partner at Momentum Broadcasting, is a pilot. As you can imagine, there was no lull in conversation as the evening went on.
We’ve known Pete for a couple of years now as he has been a recognizable voice reporting the traffic every weekday on both of our radio stations, 106.1 The River and 104.9 Q-Country, but after a very entertaining and interesting conversation, we got to know the founder of Metro Skywatch a little better.
Cindi: How did you get into traffic reporting?
Pete: While in school in NYC, I worked at NBC as a script runner. My first radio job was in Syracuse in the late sixties. I’ve been reporting in Knoxville since 1976 and going on my 36th year with radio and live reports on WVLT.
Jeff: What type of aircraft do you fly?
Pete: I fly in a Cessna TR-182-RG Turbo Charged Retractable. I also am licensed for commercial, instrument, and multi-engine aircrafts.
Cindi: As a traffic reporter, I’ve seen some interesting things from the air. Once in Columbus, Ohio, a truck carrying live animals turned over and there were pigs running all over the interstate. What are some of the craziest things you have seen from the air?
Pete: Just about everything. High speed chases, train derailments, fires, weather damage, you name it.
Cindi: While cruising at about 1,000 feet above the city, do you gain a different perspective of the way things look around you?
Pete: I am always taken aback by the beauty of East Tennessee and the fact that very few people have the opportunity to enjoy this on a daily basis. Many of our sunrises and sunsets are truly stunning.
Jeff: Based on the testimonials I have read, you have done an excellent job producing results for your advertisers. What advice do you have to offer business owners when it comes to radio advertising?
Pete: The real secret to success is repetition, repetition, repetition! It doesn’t matter how clever your ad is or how well you placed the buy, if you do not have the budget to stay on the air consistently, you are not creating and keeping the momentum you need. Make sure when you are putting together your budget, you think long term.
Cindi: We agree wholeheartedly. That’s why we built a radio station in this market that competes with the big corporate stations but at a fraction of the price. Our mission is to offer a platform that is affordable for the small business owner, but at the same time deliver a product that competes in terms of quality of sound, content, and popularity with the big stations and yet maintain local flavor by supporting and playing local musicians. Based on what you’ve told us, it seems we are on the same page when it comes to making advertising affordable. How does advertising with Metro Skywatch work?
Pete: It’s so easy to do. Businesses can advertise on all the top radio stations in the Knoxville market with just one phone call, and it’s very affordable. Also, you can change your copy in just minutes with no production charges or talent fees. Reach all demographics and have your message heard by over a half million people weekly in just one media buy.
For advertising information, call 865-531-4070 or email Pete@AirTraffic.com.