February 04, 2018 | WES ABNEY
Mike Ricker is an iconic Seattle DJ whose theatrical improvisation and sharp commentary anchored rock station KISW for 7 years.
How did Cannabis come into your life?
I was around that culture as a child. It was the 70’s, and Cannabis was just used in the household. I never tried it until my father took my best friend and me to a Santana concert. We were bored and I was 12-years-old, and we made our way up to the extreme back upper left corner of the auditorium just to see what the view was like. Sitting on the steps there, we noticed the guy in front of us rolling a joint, and he lit it. Then back came his hand with a joint pressed between the thumb and fore-finger, so my buddy who was a year older looked at me, gave a smirk, hit it and passed it to me and I followed suit. Boy, were those different times, or what? Today the guy would’ve been cuffed and taken to CPS. Mind you, I did not get high until I tried it again at 15 and an instant love affair with Cannabis began.
When did you first start working with radio?
Growing up, my dad was a radio DJ, and I did my first commercial when I was 7 years old for a shoe store. I got paid $5. It was at that point I knew what I wanted to do for a living, because it was the easiest $5 I ever made. And when I went to class, I’ll never forget the teacher saying, “Everyone, we heard Michael on the radio this morning.” And there’s little Lisa sitting a couple rows over looking back at me and batting eyelashes. Five bucks and the attention of the females, I was sold.
How did you end up in Seattle?
My radio career brought me here. I got fired in Tampa and my agent had passed my demo along to the program director of KISW right about that time. When he learned I was available, they made an offer to bring me here.
I cried my eyes out when I got here, because this was the last place in the world I expected to be. I felt like I was being shoved into a closet. I came from Pensacola, my home town, and subsequently Tampa, where it’s sunny, lots of attention, we had a massive radio station, and then I came here and the station was rebuilding and I had to start over–hero to zero in a flash. It was November of 2002, the rains were incessant, the sun was gone by 5pm, and the Seahawks were horrible. And the Buccaneers were on their way to a Super Bowl. I was all about the party.
Seattle instantly fell in love with your style and personality on air. How would you describe your role?
Provocative, theatrically based, and anti-hypocrisy. It’s based on the fictional story of a “sort of” Rock star named Ricker. Because my radio persona really was the alter ego of my real personality, the one I give daily to the Cannabis industry. There’s no pretending here. You get the real guy.
High Noon was a free speech hour on your show that championed Cannabis in Seattle, where people would call in and talk about using Cannabis and allegedly toking on air. How did Cannabis play into your role as a DJ?
Part of being a “shock jock” meant always looking for ways to blur the lines between indecency and entertainment. It was always my intention to draw attention, and I knew that Cannabis was a controversial subject. But I also knew I could get away with it. Because however controversial, it was not defined by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) as being actionable. So, you could talk about it so long as you didn’t smoke it in the studio.
But you had people smoke on air?
Yes. But how do we know that they weren’t creating theatre themselves, as I was. The whole show was theatre of the mind. Remember, George Bush was in office and Michael Powell was head of the FCC and although you could bring the funny on-air, you had to walk a very thin line for fear of being fined. And those fines were hefty for a major broadcast corporation, and were I the recipient of one of them, that could make my career very difficult to maintain. The witch hunt was bullshit, all fueled by the Janet Jackson nip-slip. In my opinion, their attacking of entertainment culture was a manipulated diversion from the wars that they were imposing on our country to protect multi-national interests. Total hypocrisy! I never had any inclination to sway anyone politically. I just know factually that shows like mine and Howard Stern’s were very much scrutinized because the government wanted to blame America’s problems on indecency while Afghans and Iraqis were being gutted. But my show wasn’t about politics, so I positioned Cannabis as a party tool, a common thread of communication between people who were cool. I never saw it as something medical at that time, just a sub-culture that was risky to talk about and fun to use.
When did that shift?
Coming aboard to WAM Oil awakened me to the concept of medical marijuana. Technology has come a long way in recent years. There was no research funded until states started legalizing it. And now with extractions you get high levels of cannabinoids and that’s what WAM Oil specializes in. So, this party tool that we’ve been gravitating to for happiness, or for escape for the past 60 to 70 years, suddenly, we’re finding, has potential benefits for the human brain and body far deeper than anyone imagined. And with research continuing, the possibilities of the Cannabis plant are endless.
How did you first connect with Brandon hamilton and Giana lampreda, the founders of WAM oil?
Brandon was actually a caller on the show. He’s a big Dallas Cowboys fan and back in the Tony Romo days he would call in every year to predict a Cowboys win over the Seahawks, and I’d always laugh and say the Cowgirls we’re going down. One day I was at the gym and I heard someone ask my name, and he shook my hand and said, “I’m Cowboy!” We became friends and then several years later he began experimenting with extractions. This became his passion and he quit his architecture firm in 2010 to start WAM OIL.
Now, I love hash, and by this time I’d left Seattle for a radio gig at KUFO in Portland which only lasted two years, so I started decompressing and travelling the world. And every time I’d come back to Seattle, I would buy WAM Oil. Then, in 2016, he asked me to come aboard and help with marketing, and I initially said, “No thanks, I’m good.”
What made you change your mind?
At the time, I was living in Ocean Beach in San Diego surfing a lot, burnt out on self-promoting, which is a big part of success in show biz. A while later I went to Machu Picchu, Peru, because I wanted to do something special for a mid-life birthday, and I meant this guy with full dreads, beard, traditional shaman garb. He was really cool, so I asked him if he had a joint, which is super illegal there, and he did! We smoked, and then he said “While you are here you have to do Ayahuasca.” At that time, I was kind of lost and wandering and I felt the need to get back into something exciting. My friend and I were supposed to go surf Chicama for the next ten days, but instead, out of pure instinct, we hopped a plane to a city called Iquitos to meet a guy in the Amazon who’d take us further into the jungle to a retreat.
What was it like to be taking Ayahuasca in the jungle?
It was butterflies and rainbows because I had been working on myself for years and had come to the realization that living in the now is imperative to happiness, learning to love and forgive yourself for whatever is making you anxious. That’s why I bring up this whole story. When I finished the trip, I wasn’t like some who say they are “cured of addiction” or “I’m changing careers” or whatever people go through in their metamorphosis. At that time, I wasn’t exactly certain what I got out of the experience, but I realized I was very intrigued with plant-based medicine because of how ayahuasca could be a way to spiritual healing.
How did that experience change your perspective?
I knew I wanted to live life to the fullest. Now I don’t have time for games, it’s time to live in the present and shed your unhealthy conditioning, the reality is now. The past and future are only figments of our Imagination. So, suddenly I remembered that Brandon had asked me to be involved in his Cannabis business, and WAM! it was a Eureka moment, “This is it,” I told myself, “this is my destiny!” That’s what Mother Ayahuasca did for me: directed me into a whole new career, one that’s not based on ego, but one of plant-based medicine.
It was the universe giving me exactly what I need for the next phase of my life and it’s really exciting.
So once you decided to join the industry, what attracted you to working with WAM Oil?
The aesthetic of the brand really spoke to me with the blue “W” as the logo. It’s clean and confident and an established brand with a platinum reputation. The product speaks for itself; it’s 100% pure, full-spectrum, carbon filtered Co2 oil that tastes delicious and is very effective. The fact is that my partner Giana Lampreda is a six-time cancer survivor by doing a full regiment of Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and WAM OIL daily, mainly Lemon Remedy, our signature strain. How can you say no to that? The proof is there. I don’t claim that it will cure cancer for everyone, but I know that it did for Giana. So that was a big factor for having the faith to dive into this company head first. Another was that WAM Oil came into the 502 game late, as it stayed in the medical market until the very last day, so we fell two years behind the major players. If it weren’t for WAM Oil I probably never would have had an opportunity to become an owner. So, I could get in at a grassroots level and build the brand with the vision that I had, rather than piggybacking on someone else’s vision.
How does it feel to break ground in a new industry and be back in Seattle on a new path in life?
It’s wonderful, I love Seattle now! We are on this earth for a given amount of time, and in my opinion, to repeat the same things, the same ideas, over and over, is a curse. The Dalai Lama says that our purpose in life is to seek happiness, and I believe him. And I’ve heard other philosophers try to answer the eternal question of why are we here, and it took me a long time to finally realized the answer. And the answer is to gain experience, it’s that simple. So, I want to gain as much experience as possible. Sadness, pain, happiness, elation, this is all part of the human experience. I’m a human, so I’m going to drink up and not let a moment pass by unnoticed.
Final words of wisdom for our readers out there?
I’m all for Cannabis use, but here’s some vital Information for all you millennials that think that happiness is found in a joint or a dab—if you love yourself and are happy with yourself the high is 20 times better. So start doing the work.