Valley man inspired by KTAR’s Mike Broomhead to learn to read at age 55

Mar 25, 2022, 4:45 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX – Approximately 500,000 adults in Maricopa County are considered to be “functionally illiterate.”

If you met Mike Austin, you’d have no idea he was one of them.

Austin told KTAR News 92.3 FM he guesses he reads at about a second grade level.

“I don’t know where it went wrong, I showed up to school like any normal child,” he said. “It’s been carrying on through my whole life going through schooling and [brings up] mixed feelings of ‘why am I not learning?’”

Austin, born and raised in Las Vegas and the son of a single mother, said while he continued to move up grade levels in school, the concept of reading never really clicked and he learned to adapt.

He took an oral test to get his driver’s license and memorized landscaping and landmarks to learn major cross streets in his area.

Austin even started his own landscaping business while in Las Vegas, receiving help from friends and strangers he met along the way. Strangers like Carol, a woman who worked at the post office where he had a P.O. box for his business.

“She made flyers, special for me,” he recalled. “She made business cards. I pretty much had a design in my mind but she [brought] it to reality.”

About 5 years ago, Austin moved to the Valley to be closer to his daughter and grandkids.

His memorization tricks no longer worked and he became especially reliant on his smartphone to read for him and help navigate the unfamiliar streets.

After a few years in Phoenix, he set out on a mission to try and learn how to read by seeking out adult literacy courses in the spring of 2020.

“I had looked into taking classes but they weren’t taking no students because of the virus,” he said.

Austin grew discouraged and nearly gave up on the idea of learning how to read altogether, until one day when he turned on his radio and heard Mike Broomhead talking about KTAR’s Raise a Reader Campaign.

“That topic of literacy, donation of books, and the support, and that it starts with our kids,” Austin’s voice began to crack. “He… he touched me and he gave me hope.”

Now, Austin is working to no longer be just a statistic. Austin said he is committed to finally learning to read.

“I know that I can… I can beat this.”

And he hopes his story will inspire others to do the same.

“I thought it was something that maybe talking to me, to share my story, it might help somebody else out,” he said.

For more on adult literacy and education classes in Arizona, click here.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...

Phoenix man gets 25 years in prison for sexual abuse of a child

A Phoenix man last week was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the sexual abuse of a child.
21 hours ago
Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks at an event touting a new universal school voucher progra...
Associated Press

Gov. Doug Ducey takes victory lap over Arizona school voucher plan

Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and backers of universal school vouchers took a victory lap Tuesday over legislation the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted in June.
21 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/@DougDucey)...

Here’s why a portion of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s new border wall was temporarily knocked over

Within days of announcing action to fill in border wall gaps near Yuma, a portion of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's new barrier was temporarily knocked over Monday morning. Here's the explanation from the governor's office.
21 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/@MaricopaVote)...
Kevin Stone

3-vote margin triggers automatic recount in Maricopa County primary race

One race in the Maricopa County’s recent primary election was so close that it triggered an automatic recount under state law.
21 hours ago
(Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Newsmakers)...
Associated Press

Battles rage in Arizona courts over 3 voter initiatives

Proponents of three voter initiatives who each turned in hundreds of thousands of signatures last month to qualify them for the November ballot are trying to beat back legal challenges that could prevent them from going before voters.
21 hours ago
Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake said Arizona needs “to have a comprehensive plan” fo...
Kevin Stone

Kari Lake, Arizona’s GOP nominee for governor, calls water supply ‘maybe the top issue’

With Arizona facing reduced access to Colorado River water, GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake said securing the state’s supply is “maybe the top issue."
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Valley man inspired by KTAR’s Mike Broomhead to learn to read at age 55