By Miriam Raftery
November 27, 2021 (San Diego) – Mike Hancock, 59, traffic reporter for several local radio stations and former news director at KNSJ radio, was found dead in his San Diego residence by a friend on November 14 after an illness. His voice has also been heard on the East County Magazine Radio Show, where he was instrumental in mentoring interns and reporting on locations in East County.
If you’ve tuned into a rush hour traffic report, you’ve no doubt heard his voice as traffic reporter for many years at KPBS, as well as traffic and weather anchor at IHeartMedia and news/traffic reporter for KOGO radio. He also helped found KNSJ 89.1 FM radio, where he served as the station’s first news director, training interns and aspiring reporters on radio reporting and production.
A seasoned journalism professional, Hancock studied at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, after studying radio broadcast journalism at San Diego City Community College. He studied music as a minor at Cal State University East Bay. A graduate of De Anza high school, he also studied at San Diego City College.
“Mike loved the idea of `people powered radio,’” recalls Martin Eder, founder of KNSJ radio and its parent nonprofit, Activist San Diego. “KNSJ staff, volunteers, donors and listeners are saddened to report that we lost one of our founders and a beloved friend of non-commercial, nonprofit radio.”
Eder recalls Hancock as a “lover of community radio and a lover of life” whose passions also included volunteering as a Canyonlands community clean-up leader, an avid gardener, cyclist, alternative transportation advocate and organizer, LGBTQ rights promoter, environmental, cat lover, and social justice proponent. In addition to serving as KNSJ’s news director, Hancock also produced one of the first locally-curated music shows on KNSJ and became known to friends as “DJ Mike.”
“The most outstanding quality that Mike brought to KNSJ was his deep humanitarianism,” Eder recalls. “He was always a positive spirit, ager to help and working for the common good. Mike was as kind and considerate a human as you will ever meet.”
ECM editor Miriam Raftery, host of the East County Magazine radio show, voiced sadness at the loss of a friend and colleague. “Mike was a wonderful mentor with a great sense of humor,” she recalled. “He was also a vital source over the years for our East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts, frequently sending tips he received as a traffic report on breaking news of local emergencies. He will be greatly missed.”
Photo, right: Raftery and Hancock reporting on location at Santee Lakes
Other friends and colleagues shared memories on social media.
Chris Martinez, executive producer at iHeartMedia Inc., said he was “shocked” at news of Hancock’s passing. “We just loved to laugh and he was such a great person to be around,” he wrote.
Coe Lewis, radio personality at 101 KGB who formerly worked at iHeart Media Inc., recalled Hancock as “honestly one of the most genuinely nice human beings I have ever met.”
“Shocked to hear,” wrote Kristi Jagger of the Jagger and Kristi team on Magic 92.5 radio. “Mike was the best and most kind human ever. He will be dearly missed by all.”