Reinventing Himself Is a Way of Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

For his first 47 years, music was Michael Ray Fitzgerald's primary focus.

After moving to Jacksonville in the spring of 1968, Fitzgerald spent the next three decades writing, producing, playing and writing about music. There were moments when he felt close to a breakthrough, such as 1985 when his song "The World May Not Like Me," recorded by his "punk-funk" band Mike Angelo and the Idols, was called "the furthest out-there Georgia happening" in Rolling Stone's Year in Review issue. But by 2000 Fitzgerald decided he needed a different focus.

"The music business dried up and I got old," said Fitzgerald, now 60.

Fitzgerald, who had been doing a lot of freelance journalism since the 1980s, decided to study journalism, first at Florida State College at Jacksonville, then at the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor's degree and then a master's in mass communication.

But the 2000s weren't a great time to start over as journalist. So Fitzgerald decided to pursue a doctorate, which would put him position for an academic career. He earned his doctorate in film and media studies in 2011 from the University of Reading in England.

By then full-time academic jobs were becoming as rare as full-time journalism jobs. So Fitzgerald has taken adjunct teaching positions. He taught communications at Jacksonville University and College of Coastal Georgia last year and he's hoping to add courses at Santa Fe State College in the fall. He also helps pay the bills "and keep my chops up" by playing and singing in a couple of dance bands.

"I've got five part-time jobs," said Fitzgerald, who lives in the Lakeshore section of Jacksonville.

Now Fitzgerald is hoping that a book to be published next spring will lift his scholarly profile. …