Drover Alum Since Day One: Michael Bendure
Michael Bendure first came to the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma because his future wife was attending the college and he wanted to be closer to her. He quickly fell in love with the school’s intimate campus, liberal arts curriculum and easy access to faculty. Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in communication in 1999, Bendure worked as a technical writer for a software company before returning to his alma mater to serve in the Office of Communications and Marketing.
After two years at USAO, Bendure was then hired as the director of communication at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, a position he held for a decade before assuming the same role at the Price College of Business for another three years. In the fall of 2021, Bendure decided to take a risk and pursue is artistic and musical interests full-time.
“I am the host of KGOU's Tonic: The Funky Groove Show, a weekly Friday night radio program exploring instrumental funk, groove, soul, disco, jazz, hip-hop and more,” said Bendure. “I also host a weekly podcast called 40 Minutes of Funk, where I speak with funk artists and experts from all over the globe and play a selection of their songs.”
Outside of his radio show and podcast, Bendure also performs in the Oklahoma City metro area in three separate bands: Heartbreak Rodeo, The Whiskey Gingers and Eventides. And beyond his musical endeavors, he began painting during the COVID-19 pandemic and is already seeing his success blossom quickly.
“I'm an abstract/abstract expressionist/experimental painter who has shown and sold work in over a dozen shows over the past 18 months throughout Norman, Moore, Oklahoma City and Edmond,” he said.
Bendure credits his USAO education and his experiences on campus with helping give him the confidence to pursue his musical and artistic passions as his career, even though leaving the stability of a normal full-time job was an extremely tough decision. The interdisciplinary nature of the university’s curriculum provided Bendure with the skills needed to be successful in a variety of workplaces as well as his entrepreneurial ventures.
“Being able to multitask and excel at numerus skills has been essential to my career,” he said. “It’s a combination of experiences that made me a great employee: writing, editing, photography, video, design, event planning and more. The combination of those abilities helped make me successful and continues to do so. With some time and the right related experiences, you can forge your own path in your chosen area.”
Beyond the content he learned in the classroom, the interpersonal relationships that Bendure developed at USAO also played a large role in giving him the drive needed to be an independent artist and musician. He credits Dr. J.C. Casey, professor of communication, as a particularly important influence on his development as a student and one that has continued to resonate throughout his professional life.
“She was constantly encouraging and availed herself to me (and her other students),” he said. “She helped provide a wealth of relevant experiences and education that gave me the upper hand when pursuing opportunities for employment. She has always been someone I know would support me and be proud of my accomplishments.”
Now that Bendure has turned his passion for music and art into a successful career, he is excited to see where this path takes him in the future, especially as his talent for painting continues to develop and his podcast audience continues to expand.
“I didn’t know I could do it without the safety net of an eight-to-five job,” he said. “Obviously, being self-employed means working WAY more than 40 hours a week, but being my own boss means I spend more time doing things I love, without the stress of performing for someone else. A colleague told me recently that I have ‘admirable hustle’ and that statement has become one of my mantras.”