- While a
mainstay of San Diego radio for a quarter of
a century (wow, what a geezer) Mark is quick
to point out that he moved west in 1976 at a
young age of "around 20". For years he
told his wife he was doing something "more
respectable than radio", claiming he was in
the Navy. After similar, selected
"hallucinations", he became a respected
member of the community with a long success
in regional media, and credits Mrs. Larson
for "raising our kids to be model citizens
while I was off doing radio/TV stuff".
- In 1995,
the City Club and the San Diego Jaycees
named Mark "Citizen of the Year" for his
ongoing service to the community.
though Mark is now a somewhat respected,
conservative, family-values talk show host,
in his early years he was a renegade disc
jockey. "I'm a recovering DJ", he notes,
"and still have a hard time avoiding the
tendency to 'talk-up' intros on songs from
the '60's and '70's." This explains
his love for music of the same period,
taste ranges from rock-and-roll oldies to
country, classical and about everything in
between ("except Slim Whitman.")
- The long
(sometimes boring) story of Mark's early
radio career begins in Rockford, Illinois in
1967. At age 12, he and a friend began a
little (illegal) Top 40 radio station.
Originating from a musty basement on
Rockford's East Side, the station stood out
among sleepy "background music" formats.
After years of such "unofficial" exploits,
Mark got a real paying job in radio in 1971
at WRWC-FM in South Beloit, Illinois.
He had to grow up quickly, since the station
aired a Big Band music format. "I had to be
the youngest Tommy Dorsey fan in the
Midwest," he says.
- In 1972,
Mark was hired by WRRR-AM in Rockford, where
he learned the ropes in writing and
production, while hosting an afternoon show.
- 1973 saw
the big break he was waiting for. And it
wasn't "joining the circus". Rock radio
powerhouse WROK hired him to do the
afternoon show. The legendary Top 40 station
launched many successful major market radio
careers. "It was like the University of
Broadcasting. As a bonus, it's where I met
my wife!" notes Mark.
three years, offers came in from other Top
40 music stations in major markets… even
Toronto, Canada. But a job possibility at
KFMB-AM, San Diego was most fascinating.
"I didn't want to be the oldest living disc
jockey in the future… I knew I had to shift
to talk, content, involvement… something
beyond playing 12 songs in a row and
screaming call letters over music intros."
So in June 1976, "we hopped into the covered
wagon…where I'd been raised by wolves… and
my wife and I dragged ourselves to
California. We never looked back." (The
wagon rental company is still miffed.)
- Mark once
considered careers in the newspaper business
("until I realized there was more money in
radio") and architecture. Quite the
"Renaissance Man", he also dabbled in music,
playing Oboe ("until it killed my lips in
Junior High marching band") and trumpet
("hey, I was even First Chair for a few
weeks!") Today his musical ability
consists of some singing (privately) and
playing eclectic CD's in his politically
incorrect, gas-guzzling SUV.
entrepreneur days: Before dabbling in
illegal broadcasting, Mark sold greeting
cards and seeds door to door. He also ran
neighborhood circuses. One successful event
(at age 9) prompted him to give the proceeds
to a local hospital. Rockford's newspaper
wrote about the story, leading a local
industrialist to donate a $1,000 in Mark's
name toward the Swedish-American Hospital
building fund (1964). In junior
high, he also ran his own parody/satire
magazine ("produced in slow moments during
English class") that proved popular at
Roosevelt Jr. High. It became the
product he used to open doors to local radio
stations, giving him an excuse to meet
actual, talented and working radio people…
some of whom became mentors and helped him
start his career.
Presidents: Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt,
Lincoln, Washington, Coolidge.
reading material: Non-fiction, history,
biography and some "historical fiction".
(The Bible, of course, over all.)
Reading, collecting political memorabilia,
coins and stamps, rare books. Enjoying
humor. "Visiting with 'living history
books'… those seniors who've been such a big
part of our country and who are quickly
passing from the scene. We need to honor
them and learn from their experiences."