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One of the Boys
Jennifer Piser Wright | Photo: Katrina Wittkamp | April 2, 2013
Michael Weber is a pro when it comes to everything from documentaries to media training to commericials.
Michael Weber, founder of Chicago-based media company Michael Group (michaelgroupltd.com), has just read an article in the newspaper that she knows would make a fantastic television show, and she wastes no time getting her team into her office to strategize the next move. These days, life at Michael Group moves as fast as lightning, and Weber knows exactly how to manage it all with her brand of brash humor and her indefatigable work ethic.
A truly full-service media company, Michael Group can shoot a video for both a mega-corporation and a small storefront client with a modest budget. Weber and her team can help brand a company no one has ever heard of, and then they can train its CEO to handle herself or himself in front of a camera. Weber attributes much of the company’s success to those she works with. “My producers and editors are the best in the business,” she says. “I don’t hire anyone who can’t deliver the goods.” It’s clear that Weber also has the goods, having honed her producing, directing and writing skills for 15 years. She currently has 15 employees, and has worked with clients ranging from Starbucks to Hershey’s to McDonald’s.
After graduating from Latin School of Chicago, Weber earned a B.A. in communications from the University of Michigan before returning to Chicago after college. “I was living in Hawaii, but I still couldn’t stay away from this city,” she reminisces. She quickly found work as an associate producer at Towers Productions, the prolific media house responsible for such shows as American Justice and Gangland. Weber’s big moment came during the Scott Peterson murder trial, where she scored an exclusive interview with a juror, beating out all of the major networks. “That’s when I knew that I could do this job well,” she says.
Weber’s next step was as a freelance producer, doing corporate public relations for big advertising agencies like Ogilvy and Draftfcb. It soon occurred to her that Chicago was lacking in companies that did broadcast PR, corporate video production, and commercials and television development. Weber decided to fill the niche herself, and Michael Group was born.
With offices in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, Michael Group seems as if it could work anywhere. But on this point, Weber remains firm: “I will never move the company from Chicago,” she says. “Chicago talent is the best because they work twice as hard as anyone in L.A. or New York.” Her next project is a reality series for a major cable network that features underground barbecue competitions. Weber has ensured that the show and future projects like it remain as local as possible. “Everyone says they want Chicago to become a real media contender,” she says. “I want to make it happen.” If anyone can do it, it’s this woman.