10 Questions with ... Mark Bolke
March 5, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Started in radio in 1975 as an air talent and subsequently moved into programming. Radio station stops along the way included Duluth (WAKX), Denver (KPKE, KRXY "Y108" 82'-91'), Minneapolis/St.Paul (KDWB- A /F 76'-78', 80'-82', 91'-95').
- Radio consultant 95'-00'
- Co-Owner and developer of RateTheMusic.com 98'-03' until purchased by Premiere Radio Networks.
- Exec. Dir. of RateTheMusic.com for Premiere/Mediabase 00'-03'.
- Vp/COO - MusicMaster/A-Ware Software, Inc 03'-12'.
- Chairman - The Conclave 09'-present.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I try to look at each day as a new opportunity to find something of interest to apply for, or make contact with someone who might lead to an opportunity. I've been surprised how wide my "network" really is outside of my day-to-day business related contacts in broadcasting. Re-kindling some of those old relationships has been very enjoyable.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
I definitely have been trying as well to enjoy the downtime and recharge a bit. Also, the time has allowed me to take some long overdue home projects off my plate.
3) Some people get discouraged or enlightened with the business when they actually step out of it for a while. Tell us your observations from the outside.
There is a degree of both. For many, the business we got into is certainly not the happy place it once was. Anyone who follows the trade news each day can see that. I've talked to a lot of people who are just working day to day and living in fear of what's next for themselves and their families. Reading all of the daily news about downsizing that is taking place does not fuel optimism for those who are out of work. On the other hand, it is encouraging to speak with radio people and companies that continue to embrace the value of the medium, are accepting new technology as an opportunity, and looking for ways to expand the business model and bring value to their listeners and clients.
4) Do you plan on sticking with radio?
That's a great question. I never thought I would ever be asked, or be asking myself that question. Fortunately for me, my radio-related work experience has prepared me for something outside of broadcasting if need be. If I make that move, it will have to be something that I will enjoy and can be passionate about. When you have those thoughts, it is encouraging to talk to peers who have made the transition into another or related field and don't look back except for the fond memories.
5) What's the longest stretch you've had on the beach?
As of this writing ... 52 days, 8 hours, 14 minutes.
6) What's the best way to get your foot in the door?
Reputation and references separate you from the pack. There are so many ways to market yourself these days through industry trades, social networks, etc. that failure to do so could be the difference between you getting noticed for an opportunity or not. Name value is more important than ever. Even if a potential employer doesn't know you personally, if they recognize your name it could be just the difference needed for consideration. Obviously, a bad reputation won't do you any favors. The same goes for references ... consider who you use and list.
7) What has been your best resource for finding out about job openings?
There is no question that networking is key. Finding out about a potential opening before it publicly exists is an advantage. There are so many people looking for work that once an ad is posted online, you become one of hundreds of applicants. Secondly, the online submission process with many opportunities, and computerized screening algorithms has removed the human element from the screening process.
8) What is the next job you'd like to obtain?
With my past experience, there are a lot of things that I could ... and would like to do. I think I can be of value on the programming management side, whether at the station or corporate level. Working as a consultant and helping people learn and develop their skill sets further was one of the most enjoyable periods in my career. Station management is something I would certainly consider with the right opportunity. The best part of being a vendor representing RateTheMusic and MusicMaster over the last 12 years was that it allowed me to work with and speak to the content creators at radio and other delivery platforms every day. Working on the creation or marketing of content for radio stations, networks, or Internet providers would definitely be of interest. I have worked effectively from a virtual office for 18 years and extensive travel is not an issue.
9) How are you finding the "courtesy level" at places you've applied? (Callbacks, emails, rejection letters, etc.)
One of the blessings of being unemployed is that you really find out who your friends are. I've been humbled by those who have reached out to me to offer assistance, encouragement, or just to say hello.
In regards to courtesy, you don't really appreciate the value of feedback until you are on the "waiting and wondering" end. Not getting an interview or a job you were interested in is not nearly as painful as not hearing anything by phone, e-mail, text, fax, or U.S. mail. I realize that verbally delivering that news is uncomfortable for some ... I totally understand. However, failing to respond to an applicant at all, even electronically, in my opinion, is simply bad manners.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
Probably the biggest thing is making sure you have a well-rounded education, especially some college, preferably a degree. Be open-minded enough to realize that there are many facets to the business, i.e., content, technical, sales, marketing, accounting, business development, etc. Any of these skill sets could offer an entry point, or a fall back position later in your career, so be as versed in as many areas as you can be. Reputation ... build a good one.
Great movies you've recently seen...
Lincoln and Argo.