THERE AND BACK AGAIN WITH MIKE BUXSER.
In his Westbury Park office in Bluffton, Lowcountry Radio Group GM Mike Buxser Mike Buxer — in frameless glasses, a Brooks Brothers sweater vest over a poplin shirt and wingtip shoes — doesn’t fit the mental image of a behind-the-scenes “radio guy.”
Radio first brought Buxser to Hilton Head Island, but his personal life brought him back.
“When you’re diagnosed with a fatal disease, two things happen,” he said. “First, for the first time you realize you’re not in control of anything. Second, you realize it’s not how much money you make or what your job is; your quality of life is where you want to be, how you want to live and how you see yourself.”
Where he wanted to be was Hilton Head.
Buxser first came to the island in 1991 to become vice president and COO of Adventure Radio Group. He would stay for 13 years, working in radio, raising a family and developing a deep love for the Lowcountry. But when Triad Broadcasting Group bought Adventure in September 2000, Buxser agreed to aid the transition by working with Triad for a few years. Eventually, he and his wife, Carol, moved to West Virginia to be closer to family.
They spent 10 years among the peaks of Appalachia, but Buxser missed Hilton Head.
“I wouldn’t come back for a visit because I knew I wouldn’t want to leave,” he said. “We had a big Adventure reunion in 2012 or 2013, and as soon as I saw the island from a puddle jumper out of Charlotte, saw the terrain and smelled the pluff mud, I said, ‘I’m screwed.’”
He returned to West Virginia homesick for the island he loved, but it wouldn’t be long before a much more sinister ailment would take hold. Diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in May 2014, Buxser and his wife moved to Cleveland to be closer to the Cleveland Clinic.
As an Ohio native, Buxser was used to Buckeye state winters, but he recalls looking at his wife and saying: “‘For maybe the first time in our married lives we have a choice of what we can do’… I’ve always made decisions (on where to live) based on jobs. Now we could do anything we want and go where we want to go.”
She wanted to return to Hilton Head. He agreed. That wound up being far more literal than they’d intended.
“I bought the exact same house we’d sold 10 years previously,” Buxser said.
His return has brought him a new lease on life, both personally and professionally. He’s dived back into radio, leading Lowcountry’s Radio Group’s stations SC 103.1, 104.9 The Surf and Easy FM. The job has renewed his passion for the industry—he even he slept in his office for three days during Hurricane Matthew to ensure the station stayed on the air.
And living in the Lowcountry again has renewed his zest for life.
“If I’m having a bad day or whatever the situation, I always feel how lucky I am to be here coming across that bridge twice a day,” he said. “It’s the most incredible sight… people save all year to come here for a week, and I get to do this every day.”