The Biggest Show in Idaho has been a decades-long tradition for Southeastern Idaho, as has the voice behind it. Mike Sanders’ deep tone and unique timbre has always provided exceptional narration and we have all felt goose bumps or the prick of tears as he has raised within our hearts proud patriotism along with the brilliance of the fireworks.
Sanders is one of Pocatello’s most vibrant personalities, and his story is one of joy and celebration. His formative years were spent in Kansas, where he was the son of a musician. He was constantly surrounded by the beauty of music—so much so that it’s difficult for him to pinpoint the exact moment that he knew his life would be dedicated to making music.
While serving his country in the Vietnam War, he ran across a beautiful, intelligent woman teaching English to Japanese students in Okinawa. It wasn’t long before Mike was going through all the cultural hoops necessary to court, and eventually married, Chikako Sanders. “She gave me a run for my money,” beams Chikako’s groom of nearly 44 years. “And she’s still got me racing around.” Mike and Chikako are the parents of Michaela and Shon Sanders and the proud grandparents of five.
On returning home, Sanders resumed a career in radio broadcasting which eventually brought him to Pocatello where he would plant his roots firmly. Working in broadcast and playing music, Mike made quite a life for he and his family. In 1984, he and music partner Richard Chisolm won a local country music competition. In 1985, they repeated their success, only the continued on to win the national competition and a record deal. This contract eventually turned into a writers and recorders contract for Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM record label and Mike and Chikako moved their small family to Nashville, Tennessee. While there he was named Executive Coordinator for MTM Records and acted as the liaison for all departments, reporting directly to the President of the company.
It didn’t take long for the young couple to realize how much they missed Southeastern Idaho and the community that had taken them in so warmly. “I had a wake-up call in Nashville and realized that Pocatello had the family values that we wanted for our family,” Sanders explains, his voice getting quieter, more somber. “We couldn’t leave this small town forever, we just loved it too much.”
Although music has been a mainstay throughout his life, he also worked in radio broadcasting for 20 years and 28 years in the advertising agency business — the last eight for his company the MSVM group in partnership with Rick Magnuson. He continues to write and work with Richard Chisolm and has also partnered in music with Steve Eaton for over 15 years. (They duo will be opening for Juice Newton May 10th at the Fort Hall Convention Center). He has also recently published a children’s book centered around friendship, respect, love and celebrating uniqueness through the use of words. It is a delightful Seuss-ish look at Jabbers the main character and his entourage TidBit, Rumor and Blabber BigMouth.
Sanders is the voice of The Biggest Show in Idaho on many different levels and he is proud to be a part of the planning committee that is dedicating hours of personal time to make this grand celebration happen seamlessly.