Michael Harris has been doing on-camera work since he was eight years old, appearing in commercials for his father's ad agency. In fact, Michael's first gig was in 1972 in ads for the Magnavox Odyssey, the world's first commercial video game console.
Although primarily a behind-the-camera producer/director/writer/editor/photographer, Michael has appeared on-air extensively over his career, both as an interview subject, an analyst, a "Wildlife Specialist" for ABC News, and an official spokesperson for a wide range of partners, clients and causes. In 1984, as just a 19 year-old, Michael was tapped by the Reagan-Bush campaign to be a salaried staff Spokesperson for the re-election campaign and sent to the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. He availed himself to numerous media interviews, including a major Danish radio network. And even though he was a "open non-partisan" in his political beliefs, by all accounts he did a remarkable job for his client, providing articulate and consistent (and often surprisingly honest) messaging throughout the convention.
Michael’s diverse résumé includes an impressive list of successes as an environmental advocate and spokesperson. He co-founded and serves as Immediate Past President and Spokesperson for the renowned organization Orca Conservancy, the lead non-government organization calling for (and later helping to raise over a quarter million dollars toward) the 2002 rescue and translocation of the famous orphaned baby orca, Springer, back to her family, as well as two other high-profile orca rescue efforts in the region. Under Michael’s leadership, Orca Conservancy was a Petitioner and later successful litigant in an historic U.S. District Court ruling that led to the first-ever federal protection of the Southern Resident Community of orcas in Puget Sound under the Endangered Species Act – an extraordinary victory for the whales. He also has worked directly with the Regional Commander of the U.S. Navy in enacting mitigation measures now in place in Puget Sound to protect marine mammals from military sonar. Michael's become one of the Northwest’s best-known, most successful conservationists... and all as a volunteer.
Michael was also asked to volunteer his services as Northwest Spokesperson for the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation (Earth Island Institute and Humane Society of the United States) during the last, eventful year of Keiko's life. And this year, he's been tapped by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) to consult and be Spokesperson for 29 member whale watch businesses in Washington and British Columbia. All told, he is perhaps the best-known on-air advocate for orcas in the Pacific Northwest.
In June 2010, Michael was asked to host the KOMO Television (ABC Seattle) prime-time special, "GIANTS of the Pacific Northwest," a unique, experiential hour-long program exploring the whales, dolphins and porpoises of the Salish Sea and the wide range of attitudes about them, from whale huggers to whale hunters. The special includes a powerful – and controversial – segment shot in the Arctic, following a Makah whaler on a pilgrimmage north to witness the great Inupiat bowhead hunt. For his work on that special, Michael was nominated for an Emmy Award in the coveted category of “Outstanding On-Air Host or Moderator,” one of just four nominees this year across the five-state region.
"Michael Harris Orca On-Air Selects"
This two-and-a-half-hour compilation is, believe it or not, just a fraction of the total on-air time Michael chalked up on the subject of orcas during a three-year period that saw top stories such as the rescue and repatriation of Springer the orca, the effort to save Luna the orca, the trials and tribulations of Keiko, the successful fight to list the Southern Resident killer whales of Puget Sound under the Endangered Species Act, and a number of other environmental issues. Michael appeared on countless regional, national and international shows, both in taped pieces and live programs, including a dozen or more half-hour live, primetime "NorthWest Extra!" shows on NorthWest Cable News. He also made several appearances on NBC Nightly News, CNN and CNN International, and of course ABC's World News Tonight With Peter Jennings.
"GIANTS of the Pacific Northwest"
Michael produced, wrote, edited and appeared as host and narrator of this primetime hour-long special for KOMO Television (ABC Seattle), which immediately followed the NBA Finals and managed to hold a substantial audience through its broadcast. Emmy Award-nominee for "Outstanding On-Air Host or Moderator."
"Cry of the Orca"
Michael teamed up with veteran producer Elaine Purchase to produce, write, edit and appear on-air in several segments of this unique, hour-long nationally syndicated special. Emmy Award-winner for "Outstanding Public Affairs Segment."
"NorthWest Wildlife: Luna's Lonely Winter"
This was a regular news series that Michael created for NorthWest Cable News, short wildlife reports that he produced, wrote, photographed, edited and reported on-air for this regional 24-hour cable news network based in Seattle, Washington owned by A. H. Belo Corporation (which also owns KING Television). NWCN covers news in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and is reaches appproximately 2.9 million cable TV and over-the-air users in those principal states, and, to a lesser degree, California, Alaska, and Montana. Michael also appeared numerous times on NWCN's live, half-hour "NorthWest Extra!"
Michael Harris with Capt. Dan Wilk of Orcas Island Eclipse Charters.