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First impressions

“It’s been quite a ride,” Thunder 102 on-air personality Mike Sakell said, while celebrating his 36th year on the radio in Sullivan County.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

November 9, 2016

“It’s pretty simple that first impressions of people are really a big mistake,” actor/producer Vincent D’Onofrio once said ( I simultaneously agree and disagree with D’Onofrio’s assessment, but first impressions (right or wrong) played a big part in my week. Last Friday, I zipped over to Thunder 102 radio station ( to congratulate on-air personality Mike Sakell, who was celebrating 36 years of working in radio. I got my first impression of Sakell years ago, and even then, it was brought to my attention that he had long been considered “the voice of Sullivan County,” having been on the air in one region for so many years.

“To be in one market for 36 years is an amazing accomplishment,” general manager Paul Ciliberto said, “and I am honored that for close to 12 of those years Mike has been a part of the Thunder 102 team.” Program director Michelle Semerano enthusiastically agreed, telling me, “working with Mike has been an absolute honor. From day one, she said “he took me under his wing and has taught me so much… and I know that I am a better on-air personality because of Mike Sakell.” My first impression remains intact. Sakell is one very cool guy.

Whenever possible, I have been checking in on the folks who have been instrumental in creating the newly formed Bethel Council of the Arts (BCA) and so far, my initial impression has been correct. Although still in its infancy, the organization ( vcomprises “movers and shakers” determined to support local artists and assist in their contributions to the community at large, and last Saturday’s event was (IMHO) just plain fantastic. Movie producer Davina Belling (“Other People’s Money”) is a major player in the film industry, and fortunately for us, also a part-time resident in the county. She and another giant in the business, Ellen Krass, working in tandem, managed to score a coup for the BCA in the form of a sneak peek at the newest revival of smash Broadway legend “Gypsy,” which debuted on the Great White Way in 1959 and has long been considered the “greatest American musical of all time.”