10 Questions with ... Mark "Elwood" Mailler
February 17, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
For as long as I can remember, music has always been a huge part of my life ... putting the band together in middle school covering Nirvana, Bush and Silverchair in the talent show. God, that's so embarrassing thinking back to that now. College is where it really hit me. I am a Monmouth University Graduate and I was so lucky to have state-of-the-art equipment and an awesome college station. Why would I take class after class about economics and psychology, when I could host a radio show, play music and write papers on the history of punk rock.
2) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Yes I definitely would. It always goes back to the "doing what you love." Sure, there are thousands of jobs where you can make more money, have more stability, but would I be happy? Nah. You have to get into radio now for more than just the music. There are so many tools available today that make radio so much more relevant. You are not just on the air; you are on social media, you're leading events for the community, helping bring awareness to so many issues, and simply being a part of every listeners' routines and lives. It's extremely hard to get a chance these days, but start at the bottom setting up tables, and hang around as much as possible. You have to really show how bad you want it.
3) How long have you been at WRXQ (Q Rock 100.7) and what makes this station so unique?
I started with WRXQ in December of 2010, replacing syndicated morning show "Bob and Tom." The company wanted a live and local morning show and I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity. I had just relocated to Chicago because my fiancé was promoted to business manager of House of Blues Chicago and I left Myrtle Beach on good terms (WKZQ). When the morning spot opened up they called me into Joliet and it all came together. Q Rock is a rock powerhouse in the local community. We have the unique situation of having a smaller signal in a huge radio city. We can pinpoint exactly where our listeners are and what we can do to service that area. We thrive on being a live-and-local station, giving us the opportunity to be involved directly in local events, festivals, and face time with local businesses.
Chicago is right in our backyard, too. This gives us opportunities to give listeners not only great experiences locally, but also amazing concerts, festivals, and events in Chicago. Plus, I get to program a Rock format you can't get anywhere else in the area. Bands such as Seether, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm need love, too.
Lastly, in a time when I believe personalities are being stripped from stations, our on-air staff gets to fully embrace who they are and really connect. It's great having a local staff with tons of talent that can shine like FREAK, Dawn Avello, and Crazy Ray. I have to call out PD John Perry from WIIL for working with me side by side throughout the whole process. He is a mastermind in the Rock world and I could not have made this station without him. Plus, I have the support from GM Brian Foster and the entire Digity family.
4) WRXQ was a Classic Rock station for the last 10 years and last October you transitioned the station to Mainstream Rock. What was the reason for the change and how is the station performing now that you're playing some current Rock?
I will always love Classic Rock, but in a market where you can get the same songs on so many stations, why not stand out and put out a product you can't get anywhere else? The Rock audience is huge, but always seems to get ignored. We have a fresh new sound, a younger demo, more client opportunities, and a format that you could "own" in the area. After only three months the station is showing huge improvements in all areas, including listenership, social media and new client opportunities.
5) You also do mornings on Q Rock 100.7. Do you do any special benchmark features on your show?
Most will say I do a solo, local, music-driven morning show, but the best part is my thousands of co-hosts. I get the pleasure of bringing up local and hot topics, and then letting the listeners take the reins. "New Music" features, lots of sports, local news, guest interviews, and everyone loves a good "Dumb Criminal" bit. In the end, let the rock do the talking. When did tons of music in the morning become a bad thing?
6) WRXQ operates from the suburbs of Chicago. How do you service your local area while still competing with major-market Chicago Rock stations like WLUP and WDRV?
WLUP and WDRV will always be Chicago powerhouses and to be honest, they really don't concern me. We are here to directly serve our local communities and business areas. We give the listeners music, news and local info they can't get from the other guys. The Digity saying is, "We live here, too."
7) What's your take on the Rock format (From Active Rock to Classic) as a whole?
The Active Rock format directly relates to a specific lifestyle, but it's funny because most people who love the new Five Finger Death Punch also have no problem rocking out to some old Crue, GNR, and Alice In Chains. To me, Rock is Rock, but unfortunately a lot of companies are "scared" to give it a chance. Rock music will always be alive and shredding, but we have to make sure to keep giving it the proper play and respect it deserves. And that's all Rock formats.
8) How does your station utilize social media as a marketing tool?
Social media is key, not just in radio, but in all media outlets. We use it to tease promotions, post local/national news, but the concentration is to interact as much as possible. Not just with generic content, but using it to stand out and reinforce what you're doing on-air. Give them something relatable or crazy, but use it to get them to turn on that radio dial. Plus, it's great having that access to communicate to listeners directly anytime. Not just when you are on the air.
9) What are some of the best on-air promotions that WRXQ has done since you've been PD?
I am beyond lucky to have a Promotions Director, Dan Waddick, who works tirelessly to come up with unique and one-of-a-kind promotions. I do my morning show live in Mexico each year for eight days and bring our listeners with us. To give away the trips this year, we had an old treasure chest at the station, and for some reason we had one key that opened it and hundreds of keys that looked just like it, but didn't work. So each morning, we announced a different location in the area that we would be at for one hour. Listeners had to find out where we were and get there to grab a potential "key to paradise." Then we threw a beach party at a local bar at the end of the week and everyone showed up with their key to see if it opened the chest with the trip inside. I was so scared the first person that walked up would open that sucker, but it ended up going on for a while. It was great and definitely unique.
10) The name Elwood? Does this have anything to do with the station located in the Joliet area, where the prison and the Blues Brothers (Jake and Elwood) originated?
HA HA HA HA! You can definitely say that. Before I came to Chicago, all my radio experience was on the East Coast. I moved down south for my second job in Myrtle Beach and everyone at the station would just say, "Where's that Jersey kid?" So my on-air name was "Jersey" for my whole career. When I got here they loved me, but gave me the Midwest death stare when I said my on air name was "Jersey." Yea that's not gonna work here. Ha ha ha ... so I went with Elwood to honor the area, of course.
What do you like to do for fun when you're not fully in radio mode?
Well, I'm sure you know there is no such thing as getting out of radio mode in this business. I have an amazing family and friends who help me escape. I love spending time watching a million TV shows with my fiancé and two puppy dogs. It is really stereotypical, but I love "live" music, finding new music, and listening to entire albums with a cocktail in hand.