10 Questions with ... Mary Cenci
March 9, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- WKVT (92.7)/Brattleboro, VT - Sales/Morning Show Co-Host - 1994 to 2000
- WKNE (103.7)/Keene, NH - (Sales/Overnights/Fill-In) - 1998 to 2000
- WCPV (Champ 101.3)/Burlington, VT - Middays - 2000 to 2008
- Morning co-host "Rich and Marys Morning Mess" - 2008 to 2010
- WEZF (Star 92.9)/Burlington, VT - Afternoon drive - 2010 to 2012
- Morning show co-host "Mike and Mary in the Morning" - 2012 present
1) What Got You Interested In Radio?
Listening to radio got me interested in radio. Specifically, WPLR's Smith and Barber in Connecticut. I would listen every morning and I wanted to do what they were doing so bad! I would talk (to myself) in the car as if I was part of the conversation. Guess I was meant to be in radio, and always talking to ourselves.
And love of music! I was a rock chick, outside of most of my pop friends ... I would sing Kiss "Beth", again to myself, in the mirror just wanting to be a rock star, and radio is the next best thing.
Radio was always magic to me, and still is! I still try and imagine what jocks on other stations look like, and I LOVE their personal stories ... and I get star struck when I meet them!!! I STILL wake up to my radio alarm!
2) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
First, the gentlemen who hired me away from the world of finance and into radio in 1994, Dave Underhill, he was the owner of WKVT at the time. We just reconnected after many years and he STILL has brilliant ideas the keep me moving forward.
I'm constantly learning from Gale Parmelee, a long term radio veteran and currently owner of Otter Creek Media! I'll never forget the PDs and owners who gave me a shot!
3) What makes the Burlington market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
Vermont is a very forward moving progressive state with a small town attitude. Vermont is welcoming, but check your ego at the border not just the door. If you're a radio jock in Vermont, you're also the PD or Production Director, street team, marketing director, remote setup and breakdown, and wash the van after you fill it with gas. Vermonters are unbelievably generous, open minded and will let anyone go for a dream or goal!
It will also be taken from you in a hot minute, if you disrespect your accomplishment and those who've helped you along the way. And to see the beautiful landscape of mountains every single day, BONUS!
4) What is it about "Mike and Mary in the Morning" that you feel really makes it cut through?
When we plan our show, we think less about us and more about who's listening. It has to be the team of personalities and how we relate to busy over committed people.
My Co-host Mike Czarny and I challenge each other to make sure we're topical, compelling, and we admit when something just isn't working. Yeah, we have games, we have great giveaways, and we're very active on social media. But we have so much fun, lots of laugh out loud moments, and lifestyle topics that people want to be a part of! Being real, a little self deprecating and playful!
5) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
All the different venues to get music, creating your own playlists with no commercials.
6) How are you using social media to market your radio station and your show?
Social media is where we get to interact with our listeners one on one! They finally have a voice, besides a phone call, everyone gets a voice on social media. If what we post is compelling ... (there's that WORD again, It's a radio term that stuck in my head) if it's interesting, exciting, attention grabbing people are all over it, share it and BOOM! Social media, it's like on air ... you gotta get 'em with something good! Otherwise, they're on to the next news feed.
7) What do you like best about working in the Hot/AC format(s) compared to other genres?
I LOVE everything that Hot/AC format people love! Besides the fun, uplifting, dance your ass off music ...with some Daughtry Ballads.
I love celebrity gossip, reality TV, fashion and self deprecating humor! AND, I love our audience! They're fun, playful, kind and I feel like they're all my best girlfriends when I see them out at events! I literally want to hang out with them all! This format is full of energy. It's just such a playful format!!
8) How do you stay in tune with your audience?
I talk to them! Find out what they're concerns are, what they're watching. I just get into conversations with them. Otherwise, I read magazines and watch a lot of TV
9) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
I'd like to see radio stations become more digital ... or, more accessible. Yes, we have apps and we stream. Somehow, instead of US finding THEM ...make it easy for THEM to find US!
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Stay humble, be true to yourself, and the only thing that stays the same, is Change.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to hike, snowshoe, mountain bike, road bike run marathons and triathlons, workout and I watch anything Wahlberg, "Vanderpump Rules", and "Bachelor/Bachelorette." OH, and I find delicious recipes on Pinterest to make for my husband!
What has been your station's biggest accomplishment?
Raising money for local organizations! AND our commitment to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life!
We have raised over $1.5 Million dollars over the past few years for the American Cancer Society, and it's a cause that effects everyone directly or indirectly! I'm so proud to be apart of a company with charity in its heart!
Who is the most amazing talent you've worked with?
My morning co-Host Mike Czarny.
What was the biggest gaffe you've made on air?
I locked myself in a restroom during a broadcast, seconds before my next break they found me in the back warehouse screaming for someone to let me out. I ran to mic in the nick of time out of breath and gave a flawless break! Ha! Ha! It was early in my career, so I was too nervous to say what I did ... If that happened today, hell ... I'd be ALL OVER IT!!
What's the closest you ever came to getting arrested for an on-air stunt? Or did you actually get arrested?
We delivered pizza to the construction guys at the airport. I lost a bet on the air and I had to dress as a man, in a suit with a mustache and deliver to these HOT construction guys.
They let us on the premises, through a gate, it was a few years after 911, and I was filming this. We made the delivery to these guys digging holes, putting up structures, and then we drove out. The next day airport security come to the station and confiscated all the footage. They said it's a persona, dressed in a costume, delivering a box. They weren't too pleased! So somewhere in the government there's a video of me, dressed in drag delivering pizza.
What's your favorite radio commercial?
Hard Cider.....nerdy guy meets hot girl at a bar. She's all sultry, and into him. She asks him his name in a very seductive voice he goes to answer in his nerdy way and burps ... for 20 seconds! Over the burp you hear, "Drink hard cider ... not beer ... etc."
What advice would you give people new to the business?
Expect to make mistakes, Expect great success! I think, as a "public figure" there's a great responsibility! The responsibility is different for everyone, but before you pop the mic and go live, be aware of what you're about to say and who you're saying it to. AND, radio is less about your voice and more about your personality. HAVE FUN!
What's the best piece of advice anyone's ever given you? The worst?
Best: Dress for the part you want, not the one you have.
Worst: When you talk behind the mic, tilt your head down. It will give you a deeper voice.