Shaw aims for local ’miracles’Written by Holly Abrams | | email@example.com
From even a young age, Michael Drew Shaw dreamed of a career in radio.
“When I was 12 years old, I knew what I wanted to do,” he said.
But what began as a career in broadcasting has since developed into being a filmmaker, writer, producer and entrepreneur.
Describing his career as “checkered,” Shaw has dabbled in nearly every area of media and communication.
“I have all these different pieces on the board, but they’re not all the same and what I’m trying to do lately is step back and get focused on one idea,” he said. “It’s just trying to plow new ground and try things that haven’t been done before.”
Shaw is president and co-founder of American Retrospects/NewStar Productions, located in Toledo.
It is through the multitude of projects Shaw takes on that he has become a modern-day Renaissance man, said Janice Weber, director of operations for NewStar Productions.
A distinguished man in appearance, Shaw looks the part of an entrepreneur, sitting tall with legs crossed and a formal air about him.
He is currently working on several projects including an upscale entertainment venue called Fantasy, to be built in the Perrysburg area.
“There is not a lot to do in the Toledo area in terms of a really cool night club or place where you can dress up and dance to a live band,” he said. “We’re trying to fill that void and give people a place where they can go to.”
He is also working on a documentary titled “Miracle on the Maumee,” about the design and construction of the cable-stayed bridge. Shaw is also leading an effort to build a visitor’s center as part of the Marina District Project. The film will be shown on PBS and The Discovery and History channels.
Shaw may be best known for his radio show “Dream Warriors,” which began in 1999 as 60-second mini-biographies and has since developed into a PBS television program, to premiere this month. Shaw said he hopes to have the show air nationwide on radio also, but is still looking for a sponsor, he said.
Shaw and his co-workers try to develop profiles on a diverse range of people.
“We want to prove that entrepreneurs are not just Bill Gates or Oprah,” he said.
Entrepreneurs have always been of interest to Shaw.
“I was always fascinated and motivated by what made them tick, what put them on the line,” he said. “I began reading about entrepreneurs and in every case there was something unexpected that happened to inspire people from all walks of life. They’re all interrelated to some degree or another.”
The first program will profile Worthington Steel Industries, Shaw said, followed by a profile on Tom Kiser, of Professional Supply Incorporated, located in Fremont.
Shaw published a book, “Slider, the Leo Butterburger Story,” released in 2001. He is now talking with 20th Century Fox and several other sponsors about making a film based on the book. The character Leo has a local connection, Shaw said, as he is named after the White Tower hamburger.
With such a resume, some may wonder why Shaw has never branched out to work in New York or elsewhere.
Born and raised in Toledo, Shaw said he has never had the desire to leave permanently.
“I didn’t need to go to major markets to be successful and years later it turns out that’s the truth,” he said.
Staying in Toledo has never been as issue for Shaw, said friend Joe Perlaky, project manager for alternative energy systems at the University of Toledo.
“He’s very much committed to Northwest Ohio, both in his projects and in his family life,” he said. “He’s a good asset and a good person to have in Toledo.”
Despite numerous current projects, work has been difficult for Shaw, as he lost his son Stephan Michael Shaw recently.
“Needless to say it was a parent’s worst nightmare,” he said. “Under the circumstances it has been very difficult. I’m trying to get back to my work and my projects with more enthusiasm.”
This loss has been another learning experience for Shaw.
“I’ve had challenges all my life and I’ve had to learn to never give up,” he said. “And this is the biggest challenge I’ve had by far.”
But it’s through such tragedy that Shaw said he has plans to help others.
Since the loss of his son, Shaw has had trouble sleeping and during a restless night he came up with the idea for a meeting place for people with insomnia. He has since purchased an Internet domain and may develop it into an informational and self help Web site.
Few have such enthusiasm as Shaw, said longtime friend and past co-worker, Bob Martz, president of Martz Productions.
“His desire to create is over and above what other people do,” he said.
Shaw possesses many qualities that aid him in his work, Perlaky said.
“He’s extremely creative and very tenacious and a multi-tasker,” he said. “He likes to have several things going on at once and he follows a project to the end.”
Independence has been a favorite part of his job, Shaw said.
“I don’t work for a corporation, I don’t work for the man,” he said. “It feels good to be in control to some degree of my own career destiny.”
Some words of advice Shaw has to entrepreneurs are foremost, “don’t panic.”
“I think you shouldn’t necessarily equate success with material objectives,” he said.
”Don’t fall in love with your idea whether it’s a project or a concept because people will shoot holes in it.”
There are a few things Shaw said he would still like to do.
Shaw has written commercial themes for Publix, Burger King and the MGM Grand Hotel but has yet to write a hit song. Shaw said he also desires to publish short stories.
“I always try to have some element of the project make some contribution,” he said.
“Literally a big part of the company is to inspire people to pursue their dreams.”