10 Questions with ... Mark Elliott
February 15, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- '79-'82 WEIR - Weirton, WV / WSTV-WRKY/Stuebenville, OH - MD/air talent
- '82-'86 KZZP - Phoenix - air talent
- '86-'95 Transtar/United Stations/Westwood One Network - air talent
- '89 -'90 KEZY/Anaheim - morning drive
- '90 - '91 KLIT/ Los Angeles - weekends/swing
- '91 - '94 KMGX/ Los Angeles - Group PD/morning drive
- '94 - '02 McDonald Media/Cumulus Media - OM/ morning drive - KBBY/Oxnard/Ventura/Santa Barbara
- '02 - '07 Gold Coast Broadcasting - OM/morning drive on KFYV/ Oxnard/Ventura
- '07 - present Z1 Creative Media Consulting - President/Consultant
- Consulted 32 stations in various formats and markets nationwide.
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
In 1979, I was hired as a sportscaster for WEIR in Weirton, WV, which quickly led to being an air talent, MD and Club DJ. I wore six hats long before it was the norm. My early influences were Marty Brenamen, Bob Prince and Little Jimmy Roach!
2) 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, I've always had a passion for two things equally -- sports and music. I got my first tape recorder when I was 10 and I would watch TV and record myself doing the play-by-play for football, basketball and baseball games. There was never any doubt broadcasting would be my career choice. My defining moment was visiting a local radio station when I was a sophomore in high school and after seeing Crazy Charlie Bacon work his mojo on the air, I was hooked!
3) If you were just starting out in radio, knowing now what you didn't then, would you still do it?
Absolutely! If you have an open mind to the new technology, we live in a very exciting time. The opportunity to reach a greater audience with unlimited creative freedom is here. I'm really shocked most terrestrial radio operators continue to doubt the relevance of the Internet. For example, small-market owners who have a heritage New-Ttalk station with good ratings should move towards what ESPN has done to extend their brand with ESPN 3 on the Internet. If you don't have a local TV station, turn your AM station's website into the local TV news station and put the local newspaper who distributes yesterday's news mid-afternoon the next day out of business. Use your AM news powerhouse to drive listeners to your website to see news as it breaks. The problem is it costs money to make advancements but if you're not advancing, you're declining, which I believe costs you money in the long run.
4) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
It would have had to of have been sports related .I could see myself running a professional sports franchise. I know that sounds ludicrous but why the heck not? At the very least, an athletic director or a basketball or baseball coach.
5) How do you feel terrestrial radio competes with the satellite radio and Internet these days?
Not very well, terrestrial radio seems hell bent on continuing the same practices it's been doing since consolidation entered the picture. Many can't see the forest for the trees or they're satisfied with riding the wave for as long as it lasts. This isn't going to be a popular statement, but from my perspective many corporate owners believe they know more than the creative people who built the product they own. In the process they've eliminated thousands of jobs in favor of saving their way to prosperity. My question is. how is that cheap labor working for you?
6) Where do you see the industry and yourself five years from now?
The majority of AM stations and low-powered FM's will go dark. The surviving stations will be the AM and FM stations with big signals supported by successful heritage formats. Once the mass-music audience catches up with Internet radio technology, there really is no reason to listen to music on FM again. I see myself operating a group of Internet radio stations and competing with other Internet operators consisting of all the creative people terrestrial radio has discarded the past five years.
7) What is the biggest change that you'd like to see happen in the business?
There are so many, so let's start with an easy one. There is no heart on the FM dial today, just a bunch of interchangeable jukeboxes that can play in any market. A station without heart that is not an extension of the market it serves is easily forgettable. I may be old school, but I still believe if you program for your audience and not ratings, the ratings will take care of themselves. The stations I consult program for the audience not ratings and all of them are the top=rated stations in their markets.
8) What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Hard work, dedication to your profession, respecting your co-workers and giving more than you receive leads to a successful career!
9) Most of us have known or even worked for a "colorful" owner/GM/air talent. Care to share a story? (The names can be changed to protect the innocent.)
I've been fortunate to work with some great GMs and they all had two qualities that made them successful. They hired well and let people do their jobs so they could focus on making money and regardless of what happened day to day, good or bad, they kept the same temperament because they knew their staff would feed off their attitude. I was never micro-managed and was always allowed to work my plan and do things my way. I appreciate every one of them, including the few bad ones because I learned something that benefited me from them all.
10) What is the best advice you would give to young programmers/promotion people?
Keep an open mind and learn every aspect of how a radio station operates, because every job serves a purpose. You can't lead properly unless you understand how every job functions. Seek out successful people for advice and always surround yourself with positive people because nothing positive ever comes from negative people.
What was the first song or full-length release you purchased?
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
You're stuck on a deserted island and you only have 5 CDs with you. What are they?
- AC/DC - Back In Black
- Essential Alice In Chains
- Metallica - By Metallica
- Megadeth's Greatest Hits Back To The Start
- Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon
What do you do in your spare time?
Play basketball, softball, swim and go hiking, or to see a concert or sporting event.
Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _________?
Music and my iPhone!
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Disco - I was a disco club jock ... some things just never get old!