Mike Lee

Senior Producer: Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, Sonic IDs

Mike is a features producer at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for kut.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.

Several years ago, he featured a young dancer on his Arts Eclectic program, and she was so impressed by his interviewing skills that she up and married him. Now they enjoy traveling, following their creative whims, and spending time with their dogs.

This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas. 

In our second week, we'll look at former First Lady and environmentalist Lady Bird Johnson, rancher and philanthropist Petra Kenedy, legendary singer Janis Joplin, and more.   

From Creative Actionthis month’s Get Involved spotlight non-profit: 
Our MissionThe mission of Creative Action is to spark and support the academic, social and emotional development of young people.

Creative Action serves more than 20,000 youth annually in seven area school districts. As the largest provider of creative youth development programs in the Central Texas area, Creative Action uses the arts to activate the academic, social, and emotional development of young people. Through interactive classroom performances, after school, summer camp, and teen programs, Creative Action's team of professional teaching artists inspire youth to be creative artistscourageous alliescritical thinkers and confident leaders in their community. By discovering their own voice, gaining confidence in sharing their perspectives, wrestling with big ideas, and deeply engaging in the world around them, youth become better prepared to work through social, emotional and academic challenges to become the next great thinkers, doers, and makers in our world.

Paul Bardagjy

Since 2008, the folks at Landmarks have been commissioning and installing public art across the University of Texas campus. Piece by piece, they're turning the university into a self-guided outdoor museum space.

The latest piece in the Landmarks series is also the largest. Monochrome for Austin, by artist Nancy Rubin, stands nearly 50 feet high and stretches across 24th street. It comprises around 75 kayaks, canoes, and small boats, arranged together to form an impressive whole that almost resembles a giant, otherworldly tree. The piece is so large that, when assembling it, considerations had to be made to ensure that it wouldn't block the path of any firetrucks.

Audrey Hukari recently sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her friend Megan Trout, who works as a hospice chaplain. While Megan loves her job and feels that she has found her calling in her life, she didn’t enter the seminary planning to work with the dying. 


Lu Zeidan met her friend Qusay Hussein through her work with refugees at Interfaith Action of Central Texas, and they recently sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth. In 2006, when he was 17, Qusay was playing volleyball with three brothers and some friends in Mosul, Iraq, when a car bomb was detonated at the court. Dozens were hurt and 16 people were killed in the explosion. Qusay was severely injured, and later taken to a U.S. Army base for treatment. There, he was unconscious for twelve days, during which his family thought he was dead.  

Justin Sherburn and his band Montopolis have been performing live film scores for a few years now, creating original music for silent films and documentaries. For their next project, though, they're playing the music of another composer, the legendary Ennio Morricone. In fact, the project began with Sherburn's desire to pay tribute to Morricone and grew from there. 

He selected the 1916 silent film western 'The Return of Draw Egan' as a canvas, largely because it contains all the elements you'd expect to see in a classic western (gunfights, love interests, bad men trying to go straight). Then he decided to add an extra layer to the project, by changing the existing title cards to something a little funnier, creating what is essentially a Mystery Science Theater treatment for the silent film. Once he sat down to start writing some comedy, Sherburn came to an important realization: he's not a comedy writer.

Esther Garza and her fiance Patrick Brickley had a conversation recently in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about topics including their family histories and the coincidences they've experienced over the years. They also talked about Esther's health. Nine years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and is now classified as N.E.D., or No Evidence of Disease. In this section of their conversation, she shares a story of finding the strength she needed to deal with the disease.

Austin author Martha Louise Hunter recently published her debut novel, Painting Juliana. The book has elements of magical realism, but it was inspired by actual events in Hunter’s life.

Patrick and Marjorie Flanagan recently had a conversation in the StoryCorps mobile booth. Ten years ago, Marjorie was living in New Orleans and working as an art teacher at a public high school. After Hurricane Katrina, she relocated to Texas.

Naomi Hanser recently interviewed her mother Suzette in the StoryCorps mobile booth, and Suzette shared many stories about her family. Her Polish father and French mother fell in love in Paris 100 years ago; he came to America in 1915 and she followed in 1916. By the early days of World War II, when Suzette was a child, they were living in New York and hoping to hear from their family members still in France.

100 Heartbreaks was originally performed as a one-woman show in Seattle some eight years ago. After that run, writer and performer Joanna Garner found herself, like her heroine Chalane Tucker, longing to play with a real-deal band. 

Following a move to Austin and some tinkering with the script, Garner's now starring in a new-and-improved, expanded version of the show. No longer a solo project, 100 Heartbreaks now features a full cast and band, under the direction of Jess Hutchison and musical direction of Peter Stopchinski.

Steven Webb and his husband Jeremy Stubbs recently had a conversation in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about their lives growing up, their experiences coming out to their families, and their time together, including their recent wedding.  

Nathan and Molly Wiebe met as teenagers, dated for several years, and have now been married for a decade. They recently sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth to talk about their life together, and the fact that Nathan has been living with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis since childhood.

Sisters Jennifer Connor and Joyce Culbertson recently sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth. They talked about a lot of things, and shared some memories of growing up with their mom and dad, both of whom are deaf.

From Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texasthis month’s Get Involved spotlight non-profit:


The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.


The Big Brothers Big Sisters vision is that all children achieve success in life.

This weekend, A’Lante Flamenco will present Prophecies, a music and dance production inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book The Prophet.   

The book, a collection of poetic essays, addressed many of the issues of the day, as the residents of a village asked a foreign prophet for his insights on the human condtion. While many of those issues remain just as relevant 90 years after the book's publication, and are addressed in the show, the creative minds of A'Lante (husband and wife artistic partners Olivia and Isai Chacon) decided to tackle some more modern questions as well, such as negotiating friendship in the age of social media.

Josh Ribacove has only been married to his wife Margaret Koppelman for a few years, but they met nearly four decades ago. When they sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth recently, Josh and Margaret talked about the day they met.

Gertha Murphy was born 101 years ago in Goodwill, Texas, a small community in Washington County. She is, in her words, a "dyed in the wool" Texan.

She recently sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her daughter, Reverend Marion Childress-Usher. They talked about many things, and in this section of the conversation, Rev. Childress-Usher asks her mother about her childhood. 

Skip Connett and his wife Erin Flynn are the owners of Green Gate Farms, an organic community farm in East Austin. They sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth recently to talk about their life together and how they ended up moving to Texas to become farmers. As a child, Erin never saw farming in her future, but for Skip, running a farm was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

Mark Pickell, the artistic director for Capital T Theatre, first became aware of Dennis Kelly's dark comedy DNA several years ago; it'd been a big hit in London, but had been performed only once in America. He immediately knew he wanted to produce it with Capital T, but saved the script until he felt the time was right. 

When, as part of Capital T's "New Directions" program, Molly Karasch was set to make her Austin directorial debut, the time felt right. "When Molly came on board," he says, "I thought this would be a great fit for her." Karasch agrees, saying that "finding the humor in really dark things" is kind of in her wheelhouse.