Showbiz Shelly, Photo by Suleen Lee
As the Entertainment Reporter for Chicago’s B96 Radio, Michelle Menaker, better known as Showbiz Shelly, has built her career around the pop-culture beat. The seasoned veteran, who attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, has a deep passion for Chicago and its ever-expanding A-list entertainment. ChicagoMOD sat down with Showbiz Shelly, who hosted the red carpet for our launch event, to talk about how she got her start in the world of reporting.
You’re the Entertainment Reporter for B96 Radio. How did you get your start?
I started at Northwestern University at the Medill School of Journalism, and I always leaned towards entertainment. I’ve always been very bubbly, so it seemed like a good fit with my personality. During my sophomore year, I asked the night show guys at B96 if they needed an intern, and they did, so I worked with them for a year and a half. Towards the end of my internship, they gave me an entertainment section called Shelly’s Street Talk, which I did every Monday night. The boss heard it, and he was looking for females at the time for the morning show. I joined the morning show, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What do you like about doing the entertainment beat?
I love being a part of what’s happening in the city or even in the world by being on radio every day and getting to talk about the main things everyone’s talking about, even just a little bit, when they go to work or to school. I love getting to share it with people and engaging in conversation about it.
What advice do you have for other people trying to break into the entertainment/radio industry?
I always say to try to start with an internship in whatever area you’re looking to be in, especially if you’re in college figuring out your path. You can see what it’s like behind the scenes, meet people and make a lot of contacts. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door and see what you like and don’t like as well as get to know management and other people at the company.
I would say, too, be patient and work really, really hard. Don’t be afraid to engage other people for ideas in the area you’re looking to get into. Talk to them and don’t be afraid to get advice. Be really authentic and genuine with what you decide to do. It will help with your success if you’re genuinely interested in whatever you’re pursuing and not trying to be someone you’re not.
What traits should someone have if they’re looking to get into the media industry?
One of the main things is being curious. I love to ask a lot of questions, which is why I like doing interviews so much. I like to know people, and I have a genuine curiosity about people whether they’re celebrities or listeners or callers. You also have to have a thick skin because you’ll be turned down a lot and told no a lot in this business, whether you’re looking for a job somewhere or reaching out for an interview with someone. You can’t let that deter you or get you off track, especially if it’s something you really want.
What are some ways you got to where you are now?
I have a genuine passion for pop culture and entertainment, and I love just getting to be a part of what’s happening in the city. When people didn’t know who I was, I had to reach out and ask them if they would come on the show or be on my blog. People tell me that I’m everywhere all the time, and I probably am. I try to go to as many entertainment/celebrity events as I can. I also love hosting events.