The question Milissa Holland heard endlessly after she narrowly lost a bid for the Florida House of Representatives in November was: what next? For almost a decade—and the last six years as a county commissioner—Holland had been among the county’s most vibrant and influential policy makers. She’d been its most persuasive voice in Tallahassee, where she was able to sway lawmakers and the Florida Cabinet Flagler’s way. She was its best hope in half a century to regain direct representation in the state capital. And she had charisma and energy to spare.
But there are no direct trajectories in politics.
“The day after the election happened, I can’t tell you how many people called me throughout the state of Florida,” Holland says. “These are people I worked with throughout the years in a variety of different capacities. Everyone was really watching, and I think there were a lot of people who were very hopeful, but they didn’t want me to stop. Even after the results, their concern then shifted to—all right, we can’t lose who you are and what you’ve become and your voice, and I think that has given me the ability to really stay very focused and understanding the significance of this moment and this opportunity. I don’t want to waste it. I really want it to mean something.”
And so at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 11, immediately following “Free For All Friday” with David Ayres, Holland will launch “Milissa Holland Live,” a one-hour weekly talk show on WNZF Radio (1550 AM and 106.3 FM).
Holland, we are just as proud to announce, will also be a weekly columnist at FlaglerLive. Her column will post two days before the show, on Wednesday evenings, and serve as a conversation-starter for the live radio show two days later.
Milissa Holland Live will be Flagler County’s version of Nightline: one hour, one topic, several guests, call-ins, Tweet-ins, and hard-hitting conversation about the county’s and the state’s most important issues of the day: charter schools, sales and property taxes, the next gubernatorial race, Florida’s obsession with jails, Flagler’s unresolved tensions over race, and larger conversations about national issues with local resonance. The ongoing debate over gun control in the wake of the Newtown school massacre comes to mind.
The election, as it turned out for Holland, was very much the turning point elections tend to be. Only this turn was as unexpected as it was natural.
“I had the opportunity to do Feed Flagler right after the election, and I think that gave me a great moment to really reflect why I continue to do what I do,” Holland said, sitting across a conference table from Ayres, WNZF’s general manager. “It continues to inspire me. This community really is quite inspirational, and it’s kept me kind of motivated to do more and more, as much as possible for them.”
The notion of a radio show was born where many of Flagler’s political subplots are crafted: at Woody’s restaurant, where Ayres and Holland were having lunch soon after the election. The two are an old couple in many ways: she’s been on Ayres’s show innumerable times, they’ve worked on a variety of projects together, they click on and off the air, usually with humor. Ayres broke the news of Holland’s impending marriage to Chief Deputy David O’Brien live on the air one Friday morning, as a gaping O’Brien sat in the studio, unprepared for the public revelation (Holland was in Tallahassee and got the news later by phone).
Ayers reflected what many people in Flagler thought: he couldn’t quite picture a local landscape without Holland.
“It was just kind of, girl talk, you know,” Ayers said of his lunch with Holland after November 6, “like how do you feel about this election after all these local beeeeps”—Ayers made the universal high-pitched sound of broadcast bleeping—“let us all down by not voting for her. We talked about all that, ‘have you lost the fire to help this community, are you going to move on and say see ya, I’ve given all I can.’”
Not at all. Holland had no intention of disappearing.
So he sprang it on her: why not do a talk show? “Because we were sitting there having lunch, and she kind of was like doing a talk show there,” Ayers said. “This is exactly what a good talk show would be, just how we’re talking openly about things.” Holland seized on the idea.
Ayers is a seat-of-your-pants sort of guy. No need for demo tapes, no need for dry runs or rehearsed shows. He’s throwing Holland in the studio raw and live on Jan. 11, with a few promos the most she’d have done before taking to the air. She’s fine with it: every elected politician is an improv artist at some level, and Holland was among the best of them.
“This isn’t just somebody doing a show about something and it happens to be her,” Ayers says. “It is her. She is the essence of everything about this program, so she has total freedom to adjust, to take calls, not take calls, cut people off. She’s a natural communicator. People listening on the radio feel like she’s talking to them. There’s no talking down. She comes across very one-on-one with everybody all the time. That’s what makes a great host.”
Barbara Revels, the county commissioner and a long-time ally of Holland’s who was among those who urged her most to run for state office, welcomed the new turn.
“I think that that’s a wonderful new thing for her to explore because she certainly has the knowledge base of our community to know where to reach for discovery on some of the important issues that affect our community. That ought to give your readers and the radio show listeners a great new venue from a different perspective,” Revels said. “Having been an elected official and having run for a state position—and she was more qualified to do that—I think she’s going to be able to ask the tough, hard questions, coming from that side, that other journalists might not know about, or have the depth of knowledge of the subject matter to know where to dig or pry to try to keep things in the open or transparent. I think it’s a great move for her to keep her name in the public’s eye in case—my hope would be—she tries to seek public office again. She’s got a talent that I would like to see not wasted.”
Don’t confuse Milissa Holland Live with Free For All Friday. “Totally different,” Ayers says. “I have 20 guests on in an hour, and 20 subjects. Mine is rapid-fire, the buzz around town, what’s on, this and that and everything, because I used to do the show every day, Monday through Friday. Now I basically do it once a week and I basically do a week’s worth of shows in one day.”
Milissa Holland Live will be more deliberate and focused, and driven by political, social and cultural subject matters rather than by goings on about town. Holland will also have complete control over subject matters, guests and the tone of the show, though she promises that it will not be the confrontational-style radio show now in vogue. The conversation is intended to be provocative, but the host will not play gotcha or let her sometimes very strong convictions get too much in the way.
“What I bring to the table is the knowledge of the issues and the understanding in depth of the issues,” Holland says. “Will I have opinions? Sure, I’ll have opinions. Will I be offering them and not allowing the flow of conversation to happen naturally? No, because the intent of this show is to allow the guests I have on to really have a voice and tie to the items of discussion. I don’t want to withhold any of that. I will challenge my guests, I will challenge the listeners. I want to be challenged.”
“I just don’t want to have a show to have a show,” Holland adds. “I want the show to have some real value. By the end of it everyone walks away perhaps thinking something different, perhaps wanting to continue with the conversation. Maybe it opens up different lines of communication, and I think those are important items for us to be focusing on right now. There’s such a division, and lack of connectivity between local, state, our residents: as I was campaigning, only so much information had the ability to get out to the public.” The radio show and the column are an attempt to counter that trend more constructively.
Holland’s introductory column, unconnected to a subsequent show, will appear on FlaglerLive on Jan. 2, in preparation for the column that’ll launch her show the following week. She won’t disclose who her first guests will be. “It’s going to be big,” she says, or “raise eyebrows,” in Ayers’s words. Meanwhile, Holland’s daughter built her new Facebook and Twitter pages, and Holland herself has been lining up her New Year’s subject matters and guests. It’s an altogether familiar role. She’s still chairing her own panels, but to a vastly larger, and likely more irascible, audience.
Colleen Conklin says
This is wonderful news! I knew you would stay engaged and involved in our community. We never know where God’s path will take us. Best of luck Milissa! You will be great and I look forward to listening. Wishing you much happiness and tremendous success in the new year!!
Good for you, I wish you the best, you are a good person and a good public servent.
This is really fantastic news. We are proud of and wishing
You the best. Keep up and continue the great work
And better things will happen.
What an awesome idea and opportunity. Good luck to Milissa and WNZF.
Pam Walker says
Great News! I was really hoping that you would stay in public life and represent us in some way. Keep up the good work and stay in touch!
How come others who are unemployed, who have employment experience exceeding 6 years, and who have extensive education were not considered for this gig? This woman never had a job before she was elected as a county commissioner on her daddy’s name. The people spoke, don’t dis their voice. You should looking for work like everyone else. You helped create this mess our county is in!
Deep South says
@Unemployed It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.
Deep South says
It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.
Deep South says
Good Luck.. Try not be to political.
The only Democrat worthy of my vote in the last election.
FlaglerLive you said it all so ably in the first paragraph. I have been involved working with state legislatures, Governors and cabinets for over 30 years, and, in my experience Milissa is as talented, and competent as any of those individuals I have worked with at any level. Bar none. It is one thing to get elected to an office and another to accomplish things of benefit and addressing the community concerns while holding the office. She has been a gift to the people of Flagler county. Her accomplishments have been many. We are fortune she will continue moving us forward and involved with solving the problems of out community. Godspeed Milissa we need you.
PC Aviator says
Correction: It is “Chief Deputy” O’Brien. I believe UNDERSHERIFF Staly might take offense to being replaced so quickly.
[Correction: O’Brien is still undersheriff. Staly does not become so until Jan. 8.–FL]
PC Aviator says
Incorrect. Sheriff Fleming does not have an Undersheriff. He has a Chief Deputy. Rick Look and David O’Brien were Chief Deputies. Pete Reid, Sheriff McCarthy’s #2, was a major. FCSO has never used the “Undersheriff” rank. At least since McCarthy was Sheriff. Manfre’s #2, Maronski, was Chief Deputy as well. Look at the organization chart on the fcso website. No undersheriff there.
[PC Aviator, we stand corrected. Thanks.–FL]
Great news Milissa! I’m so happy to learn Ms. Holland will continue to play an active and positive role in the future of Flagler County. Really looking forward to her weekly column on FlaglerLive, my favorite source for news and other interesting information. A winning combination!
I’ll be tuning in on Fridays and reviewing her weekly columns. great news–Milissa, you can do more on the radio than in Tallahassee perhaps. -On the airwaves, you will be dynamite (in a good way)–Ayres ,you know Talent when you see it !–Congratulations to Both of you..Good move for both of you….Ferg
"My Daily Rant" says
BIG DEAL, Another Liberal Democrat just what we need.I find it funny how these Dems. pat each other on the back like their Gods.Let see what has happened on Miss Hollands watch.She helped a beatiful community grow out of control,Thousands of people moveing here but no jobs for them.All the Re zoneing,
jobs, highest unempolyment in the state,houseing, most forclousers in the state,crime has gotten out of control.My favorite was when she and Peggy H. took money from the Bed Tax collected by Motel/Hotels to run events that would put people back into beds.They spent $150.000 on a marina at MarineLand which is privately owned. I think she would make a great door greeter at Wal Mart.What that paper and this web site really need is a Republician Conseritive to offset all your Liberal crap. Make it worth reading where you get both sides of the story. Im sure Miss Holland is a wonderful person and I really do wish her the best.
I find it funny how everyone blames the person (in this case, Former Commisioner Holland) for everything wrong thats happens in said community. It is the economy fault. You act as if she sat at a desk and pushed buttons and flipped switches that control the county. She goes through papers and laws. Communities go down, and as for the Walmart joke, that made me laugh because she would even be great at that because she is such a well-liked person in this community I bet people from all over would come and talk to her there. Milissa, this is the perfect job for you and I can’t wait to tune in!
Gerry Gersbach says
Great news! I’ll be listening – and reading your column. I’m so happy to know that you are staying active and involved in the important issues that are impacting our County. You go girl!!!
Jack Howell says
Best of the best to you Milissa. David Ayers has a sharp eye for talent so there is no doubt in my mind you will do great.
Robert Lewis says
I hope Milissa takes the opportunity to call out those who back stabbed her. I am sure she will not, because she has style and grace. Milissa was not suppose to lose to Travis Hutson.
Sadly the last time Flagler County has seen and most likely will see Travis Hutson was on Election Night.
Milissa Holland for State Senate ??? I would vote for her!
I told you so says
Milissa Holland was not back stabbed….she just wasn’t the voters choice. She has a gift of gab and that’s about. Being a county commissioner for 6 years doesn’t qualify one to hold a state office-the voters made that clear in Nov.
Perry Mitrano says
Good luck with the new career and I am looking forward to listening the new show !
The Piranha says
Congratulations to WNZFand FlaglerLive for landing a truly good human being. Though some of the unemployed might be jealous of your (Milissa) opportunity, I’m sure you will continue to do the right thing for Flagler County and the people whom reside here as you have always tried to do in the past but this time perhaps with a larger audience.
Local radio in Volusia and Flagler really leaves much to be desired. I am looking forward to hearing what Ms. Holland has to say and how she and her producers can make the show interesting and informative. I will be listening.
@ I Told You So——-Milissa was far more qualified to be a rep for Flagler County than Rich Boy Hutson whos claim to fame is that he’s involved in is father”s businesses and they hang out with the rich crowd in the Jacksonville area.
He know and understands Zip about Flagler County. Sure he set up an “office” here–big deal. Milissa is a long time involved resident who worked to get where she is.
Gerald Jacobs says
tax the poor no more, good luck wish you well.