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Mortgage Executive’s Gospel of Home Ownership Grows

Most loan officers find people with bad credit about as desirable as a “Waterworld” DVD bloated with three hours of deleted scenes. Not Ken Michaels, the host of Burbank-based KZLA-FM radio show “Mortgage Makeovers.” Michaels, also the president of Valencia-based First Nationwide Lending of America, has presided over the continual growth of his program, as his show has expanded nationwide. “It bothered me when people had bad credit and were turned down by a bank for a loan. Bad credit isn’t a disease and it embarrasses people. People just need a little help. When people are chatting at the water cooler, no one talks about bad credit. It’s a taboo and it shouldn’t be,” Michaels said. “I’m trying to educate them and help them to get a great loan, whether it s a re-financing or to pay their bills off or to buy a home.” The program airs live twice every Sunday, with the first show hitting the airwaves from 5:30 a.m.-6:30 a.m., while the second show runs from 7 a.m.-8 a.m. The first show airs locally on KZLA, while the second program plays nationally. Mortgage Makeovers’ format is simple: viewers call in with their problems and Michaels advises them on the proper way to get a loan at a reasonable rate. “I’ve been in this business for 20 years. Owning a home is an American dream. If you own one you don’t want to lose it. If you don’t own one, you want one. People get into trouble for a variety of reasons,” Michaels said. “Things happen in people’s lives that create bad credit, but these are good people and it keeps me motivated to help as many people with bad credit as I possibly can. You don’t judge someone by their credit report. I don’t think that’s fair.” Like an infomercial, Michaels pays for the air-time, but R.J. Curtis, KZLA’s program director, feels that Michaels’ program strikes a chord with the country station’s listeners. Gaining leads “I think Ken’s doing wonderfully. They are getting a tremendous volume of leads and they keep getting business off of it, that’s a good indicator. We are primarily a music intensive station but on weekend mornings we run some block programming,” Curtis said. “I heard a demo of the show and it didn’t sound like an infomercial. I like how [Michaels] is really topical and informational. He is not afraid of passing along information that steers listeners away from doing business with him. He preaches the gospel of the benefits he can provide and the services available.” Michaels’ loan institution, First Nationwide, is currently licensed in 15 states and currently is in plans to become licensed in 18 more. Despite debuting in the early part of last year, Michaels has rapidly expanded the show’s markets. In addition to Los Angeles County, Mortgage Makeovers can currently be head in San Francisco, Denver, the San Joaquin Valley, Boston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Gary, Indiana; Dillingham, Arkansas; and Portland. San Diego will be added on January 9, with Las Vegas slated to be added in the coming months. Geared towards blue-collar listeners living paycheck to paycheck, Michaels fleshes out the program by often having expert guests field caller’s questions, including appraisers, title officers and real estate agents. “I think the audience has responded because they feel that I’m somebody they can talk to. If you have bad credit, you don’t like to talk about it. I treat the callers with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Some people treat people with bad credit like dirt. I’m truthful. I tell them if I can’t help then. But I never judge.” Michaels readily acknowledges the difficulties of running a loan institution, a wife and three young children and a rapidly expanding radio show. “It’s not easy to balance it, but at First Nationwide we’re customer service freaks. I have great loan officers. Their knowledge and abilities give me the free time to do the show, but I’m also personally involved in every loan that we do. But it’s exciting and we’re focused on growing. My goal is 650 stations nationwide, with seminars, publications, books and CDs.”

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