How I Work: Mike Vanelli

Mike is another one of our earliest team members, He has done everything from moderating episodes to researching to bringing deep personal knowledge to our shows. Mike was a big part of us getting started and we appreciate his insight and humor. You can read his full bio here


How long have you lived in the Memphis area?

67 years

What first got you interested in history?
History was always a favorite subject while in school. I intended to pursue a major in history but decided on a minor when I realized demand for history majors was not that great. The events of the past shape our present and future.
What is/was your career?

35 years in Sales and Marketing with Holiday Inns Inc and FedEx.

What resources are critical to your research?

Old newspapers , magazines, books, public library, letters, documentaries.

What tools do you use in your research?

A lot of internet and books. Unfortunately much history written since the seventies have been done with agendas and are biased. Therefore I study very carefully the credentials and resources of writers, publishers very carefully. Facts are facts but hearsay is hearsay.

If you could tell visitors one thing about Memphis, what would it be?

Memphis started out in mid 1800’s as a commercial hub due to its location on the river with bluffs. Raw materials, cotton and grain flowed out, finished goods flowed in. It was an agrarian economy until railroads brought in more of a manufacturing base in early 1900’s. This created an increase in immigrants and a more diverse culture. This was true until the seventies and eighties decline in US manufacturing. Thankfully again based on its central location and FDX start up it became and still is a major growing transportation hub with an even more diverse culture.

Tell us your favorite Memphis history story.

No doubt the success of Federal Express now FedEx starting out as a college term paper to a global transportation conglomerate. A tremendous impact not just for me personally but the entire Mid South region. Mr Smith is to be credited for Memphis’ survival after MLK assassination.

If you could have dinner with any past person, who would it be?
I would have to say my Dad who was my inspiration and mentor. He had a keen interest in history. He died when I was just 17. I would love to ask him “How did I do over the last 50 years Daddy”?

What’s the last book you read?
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Leave a Reply