Mark Devine of KSLX’s morning program Mark and Neanderpaul talks about getting into the radio industry, along with just talking about music in general.
Q: So what got you into radio?
A: “Originally? ….. I love music and I wasn’t sure if I was cut out as a musician….. So part of it was to be around music…. I wonder if my college has a radio station, so then I went down to the school and I found the radio station immediately and went in… before I knew it within a year I was program director of the radio station in Upstate, NY.”
Q: So the Glen Frye statue was massive for your station, How did you guys come up with that idea?
A: “The tribute statue to Glen Frye you mean, we have to be careful how we say that. It resembles what he looked like. It really exploded for us. I came into work probably about a quarter to four. Paul was already in there talking to the general manager, so I came in and sat down. To figure out how do we pay tribute to a guy…. This was a big blow, you know everyone in the world is gonna play Eagles music today and we will do that too. But we wanted to do something different, there is already a statue in Winslow of what many think is Jackson Browne. We should put one that people think is Glen Frye, or at least a tribute to him and people could think of whoever they want”
Q: What is the most underrated album of all time?
A: “*chuckles* Most underrated album of all time huh? …… Boy that’s a tough one, all I can come up with is an album I really love that no one else knows. Gosh that’s a tough question. Oh I really like an old album called Catholic Boy, by the Jim Caroll band. Its from like 1980 or something. It has a song on it called “people who died” that got some airplay. I also love an album by the band Kansas called, “ In the spirit of things.” Well past when they were a popular band. Allman Brothers band had one called “where it all began which was one of their best albums that did not get not much airplay.”
Q:How about who is the most underrated band of all time? Meaning they’re always overshadowed, overlooked.
A: “Ok here is a band that I thought was really excellent called Del Amitri. They had one minor hit called roll to me which wasn’t even their best song. Del Amitri change everything is the album, which I thought was phenomenal but no body touched it. There’s an underrated album and an extremely underrated band. Great songwriter, I think his name is Justin Currently
Q: On the flip side, who is the most overrated band? Meaning people listen and think how in the world did they get so popular.
A:” One for me, Crosby Stills And Nash, the three of them together. Its good, but it is not as landmark as some people have made it out to be. That’s more a 70s and 80s look. They aren’t really talked about anymore. Another one is Dave Matthews Band, I don’t really get, I like him. I just don’t understand how people could go nuts over him. So there’s a couple. Umm, I’m sure I will think of more on the drive home.”
Q: What is your favorite track to play on the radio?
A: “ummm boy that’s tough, I really couldn’t say, that’s a tough one, it really depends on the mood, Sometimes Judas Priest sounds good, sometimes maybe we will play an old Aerosmith song we have not played in awhile. And that’ll sound great so that is a tough one. Just depends on the mood that day.”
Q: I’ve got to say, I get all of my news from you guys, I’m a communications major so I notice how the mass media like spins things. How do you guys stay dead center on everything?
A: “ First of all thank you for that, Of course we have our personal political opinions. Those don’t work for the forum we are in, it is not what the people want to hear. So it pays to needle and poke fun at both sides. Theres so many people doing that (meaning taking sides). It would not make sense for us to do it, we would not be able to dedicate enough time to it. To make it even worthwhile, when there is something funny in there that is what we will go after.”
Q: So you guys have a segment that is called , “Dumba** of the day.” How do you find the stories for that segment?
A: “ Ah the internet, sometimes people email it to us, sometimes I hear it on the radio and then look it up . There is plenty of those to go around. It is a never ending supply. Either that or we use Fark.com some of the local TV stations have it. In my mind the best local tv news station website is channel 15’s.”
Q: What level of importance do you set on interacting with listeners?
A: “High level, you know that was one of the toughest part of the job originally for me because I am actually very shy in nature. That’s what part of being in this business has done for me. I mean not shy necessarily but it takes me awhile to warm up to people in certain situations. In radio you need to do that, you need to be able to walk up shake someone’s hand you know “hey I’m Mark Devine how are you? where are you from?” Just normal conversation at events and stuff like that. Most people have interesting stories if you are able to draw them out.”
Q:When was your first remote assignment?
A:”My first remote in Danbury, CT in 1984 probably was at a stereo store and I was terrified.I was kinda standing in a corner terrified like oh my gosh I have to go and talk to people I better go and do it. I am kinda courteous in that I don’t want to bother people or be obnoxious or things like that. So, you know that was one of those, I really hope I don’t go and bother this guy by going and saying hello. I was really bothered by that but now I really enjoy that part of the job now. I really like talking to people on the phone for the most part I mean every once in awhile you get those unpleasant exchanges.”
Q: How do you deal with those unpleasant exchanges when they arise? For example if an artist is being very controversial and someone calls and asks, why are you playing that.
A: “ I would say, it’s a really good song. Like Ted Nugent, who is very very out there, but stranglehold is a great tune, I don’t disagree with everything he says he was just obnoxious in the way he says it, but you know when you play Cat Scratch Fever, people are like yeah that is a great tune.”
If this interview is an example of one thing it is a prime example that, no matter how long you are at something, how long you work there. When you love what you do you do not work a day in your life. Judging based off his answers, Mark Devine is definitely loving his choice of career.
Thank you for reading.