10 Questions with ... Mark "the Shark"
August 23, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 1983-1984 KROK/Shreveport, LA
- 1984-1988 KTAL/Shreveport, LA
- 1988-1989 Relativity/Combat Records-Midwest Promotion
- 1989-1996 WQFM/Milwaukee
- 1996-Present WTKX/Pensacola
1) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Like most of us in this industry, the bug bit as a kid listening to great stations and wanting to be on them. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the late Howard Clark in Shreveport, who gave me my first job at 14 reading high school football scores on the great 710 KEEL. Was very sad to hear of his passing just days after he retired.
2) What makes your station or market unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
When you're on the Gulf Coast, you know what you're going to get when you turn on 101.5. This station has been in its format since 1978, and our success makes a great argument that consistency wins. Joel and I are choosy with the music and play the best of the best; we have engaging personalities, hustle promotionally, and get out there and meet our listeners. None of us wants to be on the staff that screws up a good thing with TK101.
3) How is the relationship between programmer and record label changing? For better or worse?
The effects of consolidation on both sides of the industry have increased workloads for everyone I know in the business. So there's less time to take calls, talk music and develop the relationships that seemed more common in years past.
With travel budgets cut, we see less of our industry friends coming through the market, even when they might have a major act playing here. It seems like the on-site promotion duties have shifted to bands' road managers in a lot of cases.
4) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Very happy to see our company diving head first into the mobile game with the iHeartRadio app and now going "next level" with it regarding the upgrade that's being launched with the iHeartRadio Festival. I love listening to our station and seeing our logo on my smartphone and am glad that we're competing on that level. You have to be where your listeners are, or your station will slowly become an anachronism.
5) What's the best concert you've been to so far this year and why?
In the rock realm, I thought Avenged Sevenfold's headling arena show was awesome. So old-school metal with the theatrics and staging, and they sure have built a great stable of songs. And just saw the Psychedelic Furs in June. Who'd have thunk they'd be out playing shows! They were great.
6) What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you at a remote?
It involves a county fair remote, lactose intolerance, an all-you-can-drink milk booth next to our live broadcast and eight-deep lines in front of the port-o-johns. My remote became ... uncomfortable.
7) What is the most rewarding promotion or activity your station has ever been involved with to benefit the community or a charity?
While we often deploy the station for community benefit and help get the word out on behalf of various charitable organizations, my favorite event each year is our "Anything For The Kids" Radiothon. A full Saturday when we'll play "anything for the kids" -- any song, any genre -- for donations to the Children's Home Society. It's become a holiday season tradition for listeners who like to see how far we'll take it musically. And we raise additional funds with an accompanying memorabilia auction, so anyone reading this in a position to donate a cool item for the kids, we'd love your participation!
8) What are your three favorite artists or songs of this year?
I love the Middle Class Rut record and we've dabbled with "New Low." That tune definitely requested well here. And there's other good stuff on the album. I'm finally coming around on the Red Hot Chili Peppers single and am looking forward to hearing the whole album this week. And I'm glad to see the strong sales on the new 3 Doors Down album. People love that band, we're proud to be their "home station" and really appreciate their participation on TK101. We've done some fun things with them over the years; most recently, Todd and Matt from the band filling in for me while on vacation the day the new album dropped.
9) If you are voicetracking shifts or syndicating for stations outside of your market, how do you get familiar with that marketplace/community?
I was fortunate to have opportunities to visit both Panama City and Tulsa when I voicetracked for sister stations in those cities, which certainly helps you visualize the setting that you're working in. But constant contact with the on-site program director is key ... and it's also helpful to visit local websites and watch local newscasts on the Internet. You have to have a fundamental interest in what's going on in the markets you're serving.
10) What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Be willing to do EVERYTHING at the radio station. We had a couple of people in the building away on vacation last week, and I even got to try my hand at some traffic duties. It certainly gave me an appreciation of what my coworkers in that department do to make sure we fulfill our commitments to our advertisers.
Radio is fun. If it isn't to you, find something else to do. It's an honor to be on the air each day.