Michael Streissguth began his distinguished academic career in 1988 at Purdue University. Twenty years later, serves as communications director for Le Moyne college, and is, along with his wife Leslie, an associate professor of English at the school. Along with their three children Emily, Cate and Willie (12, 9 and 8) and dog Jack, they live in Syracuse.
Streissguth graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1988 with a degree in journalism and history, and earned his Master of Arts degree in communication from Purdue in 1990. While he has made a name for himself as an educator, he has become increasingly well known for his writing--on a seemingly atypical subject for an English professor in the urban northeast--country music.
He has combined his love of music, history and writing into what has become a substantial-- and impressive--body of work. In the language of the academic community, he has a concentration on Johnny Cash.
Streissguth is an oft-cited reference source for music writers, the author of three Cash-related works, including Johnny Cash: The Biography (Da Capo, 2006), and the writer and co-producer of a documentary film based on Cash's legendary 1968 appearance at Folsom Prison.
When he decided to pursue his interest in writing, the subject matter was logical, fueled by his keen interest in music. "The quickest thing I could start writing about was music, so I started writing about the blues, rhythm and blues, and country music. I kind of carved out a niche, and the country music niche has grown. I didn't have any special training in country music--maybe it was just an inkling, like, 'I'm interested in the subject, I like the subject, I'm a half-decent writer, and let's see where it goes.'"
Streissguth, 42, grew up in Maryland--suburban Washington, DC-- hardly a hotbed of country music. But, his interest was kindled early on as he listened to a local radio station, WXTR--"XTRA 104"--an FM country music station.