The DJN catches up with one of Detroit’s most outgoing, outspoken media members, Dan Leach, a radio personality on 97.1 The Ticket.
1. Would you say you’re living your dream right now?
100%. To go through everything that I have gone through and to still have my hand in broadcasting, entertainment and media has always meant a tremendous amount to me. To know that I can be a conduit for these amazingly passionate fans in Detroit that love their teams and love life is an absolute dream. Even more importantly, that I can inspire with my stories of addiction and recovery… and to have people tell me that I have saved their lives — it’s very humbling and it blows me away.
2. What struggles did you have with addiction and how was the road to sobriety?
It started in college — I didn’t start until I was 19. I started with marijuana and the next thing I knew I was experimenting with cocaine, pills and eventually heroin. I had no idea about the addicting qualities and how it can affect your life. I luckily never let it completely own me early on, but I knew pretty early on that I was an addict. I had a couple interventions with family. The first time I went into rehab I think I was sober for about 10 minutes, the second time I got out of rehab in Atlanta it was about a year and now this last time which was eight years ago on January 22, I just made the decision that I had enough. Because I did it on my own and because I wanted it, that’s why it has lasted eight years.
3. What charity work are you involved with?
I do a lot of work with NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness. I’ve done a bike ride for sobriety and I’ve worked with March of Dimes. Whenever people need help, I’ve hosted a lot of events such as golf outings with charities that deal with addiction. I just think it’s really important to do that. If people ask me to do it I really never say no unless there’s a conflict in my schedule.
4. How involved are you with the Jewish community?
I’m pretty involved, I’ve worked with the Friendship Circle — I’ve hosted meetings there. I definitely exude my pride and exuberance of being Jewish. I’m very proud of my Jewish faith, and I do a lot within the Jewish community. I hosted the Walk for Israel two years ago which was awesome because there were over 1,000 of us. I take a lot of pride and I talk about it on the radio sometimes. People are fascinated with the Jewish religion, and it’s a beautiful religion. I went to the Wailing Wall in Israel in the early 2000s and when I put my note in the wall, I started bawling my eyes out for about 20 minutes. I’m very in touch with my Judaism, I love the upbringing and I have a lot of pride for it.
5. You always seem so happy and upbeat. Why is that, and what motivates you?
People think that it must be fake, but that’s who I really am. After everything I’ve gone through, to know that I have a life that I love, there’s no reason to not live your life that way. I always have tried to tap into what is good in life. I just have always been someone who is grateful to be alive. My stepbrother died last year of an overdose at 32 or 33 — that could have been me. I always look at every day like a new adventure and a blessing. Are there days where I’m a little down? Sure. But 98% of my life is about trying to live it to the fullest and affect people in a positive way.
6. What do you enjoy most about your career?
I love how every day is a new adventure, but also being able to connect with people. I’ve learned that being on the radio is a really personal connection with people. It’s inspiring getting people hopeful when they believe things couldn’t get better. That’s a very special thing that I’m able to do whether I’m on in the middle of the day or the middle of the night. Being able to cover teams and interview athletes or coaches which were dreams of mine as a kid — that’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in as well. There’s not a lot that I don’t love, but those are the things that I appreciate the most.
Dan Leach grew up in Detroit and was born in Farmington Hills. He has lived in Michigan, New Hampshire, California, Georgia, Florida and Costa Rica, but always considered Michigan his home. He is a radio host on 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit. From the age of 7, he knew he wanted to be a broadcaster. As a huge sports fan, he is an avid Michigan fan and supports all Detroit teams. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Telecom and Film in Journalism.