President, Mark Larson Media Services, Inc. I've been working for my own corporation full time since 2009, though incorporated in 2001. Radio is one of many things I do. It's a big part, but years ago I focused on expanding all of my media interests (TV, new media, speaking engagements, consulting) under one umbrella.
How are things with you right now? Life, work…..
I am thrilled to be moving my weekday radio show back to AM 760 KFMB.. I'll be on 10AM to Noon beginning June 5. It was June 1976 when we moved to San Diego form Illinois and I began my 18 years at KFMB. I was (ahem) ...7 years old? In 1976... LOL) ... I was Program & Operations Manager, National PD/Radio for parent company Midwest Television and on air personality, We had a great team that made so much San Diego radio history...many great things that have never been topped.
Anyway, in mid-April of this year I opted out of my deal with Salem Media's AM 1170 KCBQ. It was my second tour of duty there, having first joined them in 1994 as GM (still on the air too). At the time it was KPRZ 1210AM only, but while I was GM the company bought KCBQ and we expanded the general market talk format. We did some good things there and then. Since June 2009 I have been doing 6-9AM on AM 1170 until I decided I had enough of getting up at 4AM. Other commitments such as doing lots more television (as contributor on KUSI News Channel 9 and often on Fox News Channel) made for a very long day. I was also frustrated with local management at the station and didn't see much growth or support ahead. I have great respect for the parent company Salem Media Group and its various business interests (publishing, online resources, networks) but it was time to move. And KFMB and I had conversations at various times over the years. This time, everything came together.
I have changed stations only five times in 41 years, twice to the same company (Salem and KFMB/Midwest) In this business, not bad averages.
Do you have anything you’d like to talk about? Such as stories from radio?
Where do I start? So many moments. I love talk/personality radio connecting with people who make news and history. Interviewing Gorbachev was certainly a highlight so far. Many events are chronicled on my website. Of course the Padres 1984 season, big news events, helping the save the Mt Soledad Veterans Memorial, creating "Fantasy Baseball" during the MLB strike ... Those and many others come to mind.
San Diego… What is your favorite place to visit?
We have been East County residents from the start. Really enjoy the "real world" mix there. Raised our family with a solid consistency, without being radio nomads. That's a blessing. But I love the coast, Mt. Soledad, downtown, Balboa Park (especially San Diego Air & Space Museum where I am Chairman of the Board), being plugged ino the military and visiting North Island, MiraMar. Camp Pendleton.
Is your job still as exciting like it was day one?
Yes, because I choose to make it that way. Too many people bemoan "the good old days" and whine about how the business has changed too much. Well, sure,but still a great platform and important to the community. Radio works. It's possible to reinvent ourselves as needed to continue to adjust and thrive.
Where is your favorite place to go out and eat?
Donovans, especially the Jolla location. Also pretty much any of the Cohn restaurants. Chick Fil A... of course In N Out. #2, animal style burger please.
What are some facts about you that maybe no one knows, but could be interesting?
I love art, wish I could find time to start sketching again. Maybe painting ... And I have been wanting to write a book for years. I think I better get at it.
I'm still a nerd at heart, and read all the time. Show prep is something I do for fun 24/7. I want to do radio as long as I am above the sod, God willing.
How do you view radio now, compared to the past, then looking to the future?
Everything is changing. That's nothing new. Delivery systems are new, and AM/FM will morph into something different. But content is still what matters.
How vital is the connection between an on-air personality and the listener?
Essential. You can't fake it. Be authentic. Be who you are, on and off the air. Care about people, really. And care about your advertising partners and their success.
What is your favorite movie?
"It's A Wonderful Life"
With Social Media being so prevalent, tell me the advantages of using FB, Instagram, Twitter to connect with your listeners
I'm into FB, Twitter and Instagram..all on @marklarsonradio Facebook is maxed at 5000 friends :) so I started a FB like page at marklarsonmedia
Every one of those is different. Twitter more newsy, FB a mix of news and personal. FB like page is show highlight and radio/TV stuff. Instagram is,,,well, what exactly? Pretty pictures, odd tidbits.
What is your favorite radio moment?
Every time I wrap a show and feel like, "yeah, it all clicked ...and we made a difference in the air today".
How long have you been in radio?
Since I was 12. Started at an illegal radio station started by a fellow band nerd.
Is there anything in particular you like about the San Diego market vs other markets you’ve worked in?
I never call it a "market". It's a community. That terminology in itself changes the way a person does radio (or TV) It's not an act. It's part of the local fabric.
How about any you may dislike?
People who don't care, hired guns who only know how to cut expenses not grow teams and revenue, Leaders who don't lead and treat their people poorly, especially those staring out in the business.
What is the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
What I am doing now, working under my own company for all things. However, as a kid having newspaper routes and selling things door to do (like seeds..really) was fun.
I learned lots of sales skills that way,
What broadcasters do you look up to?
Radio? Vernon Nolte in Illinois, Carl Hamilton, Paul Harvey, Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Paul Palmer. These were mentors in the "formative years" who inspired me and. helped me get rolling in this business. So many others (they know who they are :)
If you could go back in time and work during any era of radio for a few days - which would you choose?
1930's and early 40's.... big shows, huge "theater of the mind". Giant news events.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am blessed and grateful, Thankful to keep doing what I love doing, as long as I am able. My Christian faith drives me, and is my constant source of strength. I've made plenty of mistakes and continue to do so. Hey, we are all human. But I am a big believer in forgiveness, redemption and renewal. Every day is a gift and I try to get the most out of every minute, always keeping a sense of humor. Life's sure more interesting that way.