Mike Leonard (journalist)
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Michael P. Leonard (born November 30, 1947 in Paterson,New Jersey) is a retired, Emmy Award winning American television journalist, NYT best-selling author, filmmaker and public speaker. Leonard was a 32-year NBC-TV national network correspondent and regular contributor to the Today show on NBC-TV.The Today Show. He is known for his uniquely creative style and his stories on everyday life.
Mike Leonard has traveled extensively throughout the United States (and the world) creating over 1000 stories in his 32 years as the only NBC-TV network correspondent permitted to roam America freely and to choose upon whom, what and where to focus his camera. From the beginning, Leonard resolved to respect every journey, every story search, by remaining open-minded and confident he will discern a story — and frame and tell it in his own inimitable way.
The result is an ongoing portfolio of content revealing the authentic America, in all its scenic splendor and welcoming ways, shown through everyday people and real life.
In addition to his regular Today show features, Leonard's stories have appeared on NBC Nightly News, Dateline, NBC Sports, ESPN, MSNBC, Showtime and PBS. He has covered political conventions, presidential inaugurations, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, championship boxing, the Golden Globes – and so much more. International assignments have taken him to Australia, China, Korea, Europe, the British Isles -- and he has ventured forth on modes of transportation ranging from horses to oil rigs and Air Force supersonic jets.
In 2006, Leonard published The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside Lessons of an American Family, about a 2004 month-long cross country RV trip he took with his aging, eccentric parents and grown children. The book quickly rose to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Leonard was nominated for a prestigious Quill Award in the category of Debut Author of the Year.Leonard also created The Ride of Our Lives 12-part public television series about the journey.
In 1989, Mike Leonard pioneered a broadcasting model when he was the first and only television network correspondent to research, produce, shoot, write, and edit all of his own stories. While unprecedented at the time, Mike’s independent and innovative style of reporting now has emerged as a valued model in the battle to cover the news in an effective and cost efficient manner.
The same year, Leonard had the honor of having a G.I. Joe figure sculpted after his likeness by Hasbro. They named their character, Scoop, whose given name was "Leonard Michaels," in honor of the real newsman. Scoop was also in the communications field, just like his inspiration. (1)
Leonard is also part of a family video production company, Picture Show Films. Picture Show has produced critically acclaimed television shows; features for PBS, ESPN, and other news outlets; and videos for fund-raising, corporate training, and other projects. Picture Show is also credited for producing The Brendan Leonard Show, hosted by his son Brendan Leonard.
Leonard and his family construct a Wiffle Ball stadium in their front yard every Sunday from Spring through autumn: Picture Show Park at the PineYards.
Leonard graduated from Providence College in 1970, where he played Division One Hockey for the now-legendary Lou Lamariello, a renowned NHL coach, multiple Stanley Cup winner, and current President & GM of the New York Islanders. Lamoriello coached Leonard during his freshman year (1966-67), and then again when Lamoriello became Head Coach for Leonard's junior (1968-69) and senior years (1969-70). Under Lou's tutelage, Leonard was named to the ECAC All-Star team in January, 1970 and earned MVP and Providence College's prestigious Mal Brown Award for character and courage the same year.
After college, Leonard was invited to try out for the Phoenix Roadrunners professional hockey team. He went to training camp for 3 weeks in Nelson, British Columbia, played with the team in public intra-squad exhibition games, practiced with the team for four years, traveled with the Roadrunners as their Color Commentator, and served as an on-ice coach for 3 weeks in Finland.
Providence College bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Leonard in 2000. His Commencement Address received a standing ovation from a crowd of 10,000 in the Dunkin' Donut Center.
While he retired from NBC News in December of 2012, Mike continues his prolific storytelling. His newest project – inCommon - is a public television and online series grounded in the premise that people share more in common than we are led to believe. Mike produces the inCommon show and other documentaries in collaboration with his co-creator, Mary Kay Wall, and his family company, Picture Show Films in Chicago.
Leonard started in television when he was 31 years old. After a brief stint with a public television station in Phoenix, he was hired by KOOL-TV as a reporter, and very soon, was promoted to Sports Anchor. Just one year later, Richard Salant, the former President of CBS who had moved to NBC, saw Leonard's distinctively creative stories while visiting Phoenix. Salant hired Leonard on the spot for the NBC national network. It was an unprecedented, rapid rise to the big leagues.
Leonard has four grown children, Matt, Megan, Kerry, and Brendan, and nine grandchildren. He currently resides in Winnetka, Illinois, with his wife, Cathy. Their four children also graduated from Providence College.
- Leonard, Mike (2006-04-16). The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside lessons of an American family (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-48148-8.
- Apple Pro/Video interview with Leonard
- Audio interview with THECOMMENTARY.CA, April 2006
- Video on YouTube