10 Questions with ... Mark Copeland
June 6, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Hanging in there ...
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Glued to the radio as a kid -- the legendary CKLW in Detroit. I used to try to do DJ impressions and drove my parents mad.
2. How long have you been at WQKL? How has the station evolved in that time?
Since November, 2004. The station used to be a bland, Oldies-based AC, but our GM at the time, Bob Bolak, wanted something that felt like Ann Arbor, so we morphed it from that to a Hot AC, then to a Modern AC and now to a straight-forward Triple A. It was meant to be a slow evolution. It has worked; our station has been #1 or #2 25-54 in our market for the last four years.
3. For those who have never heard WQKL, how would you describe the sound of the station?
Triple A is so hard to pinpoint because to non-industry people it means nothing, but my ex-PD Rob Walker called it "rock music for smart people with money."
4. How much leeway do you give your jocks to talk between records?
We are very into giving information about the songs and artists and not just "that was/this is." We also like to talk about "everyday Ann Arbor" things. The less generic, the better; we want our listeners to know we are right here in town with them going through the same construction hassles and attending the same great events that they are. Our approach is to not sound DJ-ish: sound like you are talking to your friends about music and events, in a casual manner, like you were out on the deck behind your house.
5. Tell us about some the station's benchmark promotions.
The biggest is "Rockin' For The Hungry." In early December, every year we broadcast outside in the cold in front of a supermarket to raise funds and food for the local food bank called Food Gatherers. We've been breaking records consistently -- and in a state with a bad economy.
6. What is your biggest challenge at the station?
The biggest challenge has been getting folks to not take things so seriously, at least from the programming side. Have fun; it's radio. You can never please every listener all the time, but if you are honest with them and show your passion, they will stick with you even if they don't like every single song you play. But that seems to be a radio-wide thing, not just our station.
7. What stations do you like to keep track of?
CIDR in Windsor is the closest competitor in our format locally -- to say I don't keep tabs on them would be a lie. I like to check in on KCMP (The Current)/Minneapolis, KCRW/Los Angeles, KGSR/Austin and WCNR/Charlottesville, VA where our former PD Brad Savage works now. I listen to KBZT (949FM) in San Diego because they do a chill show, which I also do on Sunday nights. The stations in Detroit don't do anything musically challenging anymore. Everything you hear, you've heard a thousand times ... it's boring.
8. Favorite artist you have met?
Ben Folds ... and John Wesley Harding, who always has a great story. Brandi Carlile and her band are always great. I really liked meeting Ben Harper ... interesting guy.
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
Don't listen to people that say "you can't." They are really saying "don't try" and that's just giving up. Another is when you get a strong impression that a boss is a bad person/bad boss, trust your instincts and move on. I have not had that problem here in Ann Arbor.
10. If you wanted to completely change careers today, what would you do?
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
I am a big sports fan, especially baseball and hockey. Nothing is better than the NHL playoffs.
Last non-industry job:
I worked as a courier in metro Detroit (1997)
First record ever purchased:
"Frankenstien" by Edgar Winter Group (45)
Not going with a parent or legal guardian? I went to go see Prince in Detroit
Favorite band of all-time:
It changes, but R.E.M, U2, The Smiths, and Ben Folds come to mind.