Michael Feldman made his radio debut in 1965 when his winning entry in an essay contest earned him an appearance on a radio program in Milwaukee. During the show he dedicated the song, "What Kind of Fool Am I?" to the owners of the Milwaukee Braves, who were in the process of forsaking Milwaukee for Atlanta. The only thing he remembers from the experience is that "the host told me that I talked too much."
With a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Wisconsin and "realizing that I was not qualified for anything," he went back to school in 1970 for teacher's certification. Of the eight years he spent teaching, Feldman recalls only that "it was an English class, and we spoke it." But he did use the classroom to perfect a free-flow, off-the-cuff style of communication that would later inspire the "Wall Street Journal" to dub him "The King of Small Talk Radio."
Tired of correcting student papers, he abandoned teaching. He drove a cab and became a volunteer DJ on Madison's WORT-FM, hosting "Thanks for Calling," a program that he describes as "a call-in for the bedridden, the elderly and the updatable." Feldman's ability to put his audience in a feel-good, relaxed mood led WORT-FM to give him his own show, "The Breakfast Special," which was broadcast live from a greasy spoon called Dolly's Fine Foods five mornings a week.
Feldman moved to Wisconsin Public Radio in 1985 and began "Whad'Ya Know?" The show immediately attracted both critical acclaim and a loyal coast-to-coast audience. Subsequently, he wrote three "highly praised and widely ignored" books: the autobiographical"Whad'Ya Know?," published in 1991; "Whad'Ya Knowledge?," published in 1993; "Thanks for the Memos" in 1995, a compilation of actual memos sent in by his listeners; and most recently "Glad You Asked."