10 Questions with ... Mark McKay
June 12, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Pretty short & sweet-18 years, 2 sets of call letters! Started in promotions at KMLE/Phoenix in 1993, full-time on-air in '97, and here at WGH since 1999.
1) So how's a nice guy from Philly end up in Virginia Beach, and do you miss those cheese-steaks?
Believe it or not, there's a pretty GOOD cheese steak place about 3 miles from my front door called Iggle's (bonus points for the name, by the way)! How'd I wind up here? I was offered a job and said yes. Somehow, I remain employed.
2) Let's get the cheese steak thing over with-in your opinion, the best is?
I know the time-honored debate in Philly is Pat's vs. Geno's, but in Center City, I was always partial to Jim's on South Street. Having grown up in the 'burbs, though, you'd have been likely to find me eating them at Big John's in Cherry Hill, NJ.
3) You've been at WGH a long time, since 1999-what makes your station special?
I should point out that a LOT of us have been here for a long time-Jimmy Ray Dunn (mornings) & Karen West (middays) have been here since just about the beginning in the early '90s. I think that says a lot about the station's track record, frankly-the audience knows us, and we know a lot of them, since we've been so consistent through the years.
4) WGH has a great reputation for putting on concerts and your community service in the Tidewater area-why is that so important?
This is a very transient community, thanks to the (HUGE) military presence around here. (Sidenote: SEAL Team 6, which took out Osama? Based here in Va. Beach!) As a result, there's a lot of opportunity for us to get involved with military organizations, and that often includes base concerts, etc. As obvious as it may seem to say, aren't radio stations SUPPOSED to serve their communities?
5) What events do you have coming up that you're excited about?
Our Eaglefest show in July will be huge this year, starring Toby Keith & more. And our annual "Christmas That You Missed" is coming up in June-we have a Christmas party at a local waterpark for servicemen/women who were deployed during the holidays. This year, we've got Steel Magnolia coming in to perform, too, which will be a blast!
6) Tidewater is quite large, from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach, Peanut Country, etc. How do you cover an area so wide and diverse?
Don't forget Northeast North Carolina-they're part of our listening area, too! We're a metro with a population (1.4 million) roughly equivalent to Nashville's, but in terms of acreage, it's bigger than the State of Delaware. Funny-you mentioned "Peanut Country;" Suffolk actually has almost as many high-end McMansions as peanut farms these days. Though both are crawling with tourists in the summer, Billyburg has a much different vibe than the VB Oceanfront, which itself is way different than downtown Norfolk, which is a world away from the Outer Banks. It's all about knowing what makes each city/county tick.
7) It seems from the outside that there's a great chemistry between you and OM John Shomby-what's the working relationship like?
Appearances CAN be deceiving, you know? Kidding! Again, back to longevity; I think the fact that we've worked together for almost 9 years now has a lot to do with it. You can't work that closely with someone for that long without a lot of mutual respect & trust, and can't help but develop a certain ability to finish each others' sentences. Even though we disagree occasionally (who doesn't?), we always understand the other's position, whether it's over which song to add, a promotion, or whatever.
8) What do you do for fun in the few hours a week that you're not at the radio station?
NOTHING makes me happier than being at home with my wife Christi & our dog Lola the Wondermutt. Chez McKay is our Fortress of Solitude! Although given the amount of trees on our property, I could do without the yard maintenance. Summertime's when we leave the Fortress (and brave the traffic) more often, whether it's for dinner at the beach, or a drive up to Williamsburg. The fact that Busch Gardens is nearby doesn't suck!
9) Say I was coming to Virginia Beach for a weekend-what are a couple of great restaurants we could hit that the tourists don't know about?
It's funny-a lot of our favorites are overrun by tourists from May-Sept., so we avoid 'em in-season. Still, despite the fact that it's AT the Oceanfront, the "visitors" haven't made Tautogs too tough to get to-mmmmmm, Tuna Martinique! (The sound you just heard was Bob Reeves and/or Jimmy Rector calling a travel agent, by the way). Tourists or no, Il Giardino at the Beach is one of the best Italian places on the planet. And if you don't mind the drive, you can't go wrong with the Blue Talon in Williamsburg.
10) Is it true that you met Garth Brooks on the USS Enterprise?
Yep-the year that he did those TV specials around the launch of the "Scarecrow" CD. The legend of Garth's memory is true, by the way-we were introduced again a few years later, and although he didn't remember my name, he remembered that we had met & said: "on that aircraft carrier-DAMN, it was cold that day!" And he was RIGHT! That still amazes me.
1. Who is the favorite of all the artists that you have met?
Tough one, but I'd have to say George Strait. One of the few that I was starstruck around, but just as unassuming as can be.
2. Favorite foods?
Anything but sushi.
3. Can you remember the very first album you ever bought?
I had tons of 45's as a kid, but the first LP I can recall buying with my own money was "Ghost in the Machine," from the Police. If you kids don't know what a "45" or "LP" is, Google it!