10 Questions with ... Mark "Skid" Lavin
April 15, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I started working in radio back in 1994 when I took an early morning weekend shift at Easy 108 in Columbus, OH. I was playing elevator Muzak (think Chuck Mangione), but I didn't care. I was a college kid making it to the big time. From there I found myself at WCOL producing and co-hosting the CMA Award-winning "Dixie and Skip in the Morning." I also worked at WBNS and WTVN. In 2003 I found a home for nine years producing and co-hosting at WWKA (K92) in Orlando, Florida. In 2012 I found my way to Washington, DC as Exec. Producer/Co-Host for "The Boxer Show" on 98.7 WMZQ. Now, sadly I'm playing with a Mr. Microphone in my garage.
1) What do you do to maintain a positive mental attitude and stay motivated?
I find other creative outlets. I write comedy, which many of my friends steal for their morning shows. I'm also an actor and have found work filming commercials, movies and on stage. I'm also a stay-at-home dad right now, which is AWESOME, but it ain't paying the bills.
2) How are you occupying your time, besides looking for a job?
Facebook. I find it to be my only source right now to entertain people. Plus, it's making sure my social media skills aren't rusty.
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.
What I find discouraging is the way radio has changed in the past 10 years. Jobs are harder to come by due to voicetracking and syndication. Many companies are "plugging in" shows throughout dayparts. The business side of me understands "cost saving," but the broadcaster, listener and radio lover in me doesn't understand throwing away localism to save money. There was a time when it was easy to keep your foot in the door by working overnights or weekends. Those days are gone. It's sad and very hard for someone who's been in this industry for 20 years. This is what I know how to do.
4) What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a job?
I was up for a job producing Dee Snider's (Twisted Sister) morning show in Hartford, CT. I looked at my resume and saw County, Oldies, News/Talk and Easy Listening as the formats I worked in. In my mind I saw Dee looking at my resume saying "Red Flag, Red Flag, Red Flag, Red Flag." I needed to get his attention to show I could do an "edgy" Rock morning show. While I was thinking about it, and preparing my tape/resume, Monty Python's Flying Circus was playing in the background. Terry Jones was doing his naked man at the piano sketch. BINGO I thought...I'll add a picture of myself like Terry Jones in the sleeve of my CD. I'll take the picture of my backend sitting at an organ with crazy hair. It would be memorable, "edgy" and funny. Plus, everybody watches Monty Python! Dee DID call me for an interview. The first thing he said to me was, "Why the F**K did you send me a naked picture of yourself?" I realized then that not everybody watches Monty Python. I still have the photograph and show it to people when I tell the story.
5) What's the most unbelievable question you've ever been asked in an interview?
"Why the F**K did you send me a naked picture of yourself?"
6) Are you spending as much time listening to radio as you used to?
It's hard for me to listen to the radio when I'm not working, especially listening to a station I've worked for. You question yourself saying, "Well ... I could have done that. Why didn't they keep me?" I do listen, but normally to other cities that I haven't worked in. That said, Anchorage, Alaska has a cool Classic Rock station.
7) What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Booking all FIVE Republican candidates the morning of the 2008 Florida primary. I was able to get McCain, Romney. Huckabee, Giuliani and Paul to call in LIVE each hour. We were the ONLY radio station in Florida to do that. It was awesome!
8) What do you miss most about music/radio? The least?
I miss providing entertainment to the early morning commuter. I don't miss waking up at 2:30a (however sometimes I still do).
9) What have you learned about yourself, others, or life in general in your downtime?
I've been very blessed in this industry. Not many have stayed in it for so long. I made it to a major market. That's pretty awesome.
10) Having been through all you have dealt with in this biz, what advice would you give people trying to break in?
Only do it if you have the passion for it. This will be one of the hardest careers you'll ever be a part of.
Any books you can recommend to people who need something inspirational to read?
"The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. I know, you think I'm joking because it's a kid's book. I'm not. I read it to my daughter once a month at bedtime. The story is not a children's tale. It's a story about life and friendship from youth to elderly. The tree watches the boy grow up, helps him with what he needs as an adult and is there for him whenever he needs him. It's a beautiful story.
I know .... I now sound like a damn hippie tree hugger.