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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : features May 1, 2016

11/3/2013 8:59:00 AM
End of an Era: Mark in the Morning is off the air
After 22 years of doing the morning show on country station KVRD, he is calling it quits. VVN/Jon Pelletier
After 22 years of doing the morning show on country station KVRD, he is calling it quits. VVN/Jon Pelletier

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- Mark in the Morning hung up his microphone for the last time Thursday.

After 22 years of doing the morning show on country station KVRD, he is calling it quits. In the future, he hopes to make an impression without words.

Mark first opened his microphone on the radio in 1978 at a Lake Tahoe country station at the age of 22. He says he "wasn't that good then." But that all changed when he began an "All Request Show."

Because of his format, the mood of the music around him changes with the calls. Some days, the tempo is upbeat. Sometimes it's more moody.

Richard Dehnert originally hired Mark when he owned the radio station in 1991. He has been through the ownership change when the station was purchased by Grant Hafley in 1996 and then a major expansion when the studios moved to new quarters in Bridgeport in 2004.

"Today, we actually have more listeners in Prescott," said Mark.

KVRD crewmembers say Mark-in-the-Morning is an institution and he has become a fixture in the Verde Valley.

"No one does all-request radio anymore," said Mark. "My gift is talking to people. People call in and we live our lives on the radio. It's the good, the bad, the ugly and the ups and downs of life, just like the music.

"Many times, if someone asks for a song, it is really important to them. The other day a caller, a guy, was crying when he called in. Somebody was just getting out of the hospital, and the diagnosis was not good. They need a song at that time for something they are going through at that moment in their life. That is the great thing about country music. There is a song for everything you are going through."

It is not esoteric patter when people call, he explained "When people call in, all you have to say is, 'What's going on?' and you get 'what's going on.' And that is what makes is real."

He views his role as that similar to a "life coach" or a "steward of the music." He is an intermediary between people's stories and the music that expresses them.

"In a world of call-waiting and voice mail, it is a place where you can not only get the song that you want, but you can actually be on the program, and share whatever it is, a birthday or anniversary."

Mark has even hosted marriage proposals. "A guy called once and proposed to his girl. And, then, the girl is on the phone, saying, 'I want to give him an answer.' It is a chat room on the radio. You will laugh or cry listening to this program. There is a song for every topic you can imagine. And if they don't know the song, I do. I have been here so long that I know every song that will fit."

He says the program is also something of a support group. People call for songs for every life experience. People die, and their friends and relatives call and dedicate songs.

"Somebody calls up and they are 22 years old and their dad just died. You can't do it with rock 'n' roll. It doesn't have the heart. In the last few days, they have been dedicating songs to me. Usually, it is someone's birthday or anniversary. But now, 70 percent of the songs are 'thanks for everything.' It is very humbling when you leave and people actually care. But they are great people in Yavapai County."

Mark admits he has been on the radio longer than some of his audience has been alive. "A 7-year-old can listen, his mother can listen and grandmother too. The sound of country music is a little different today than it was years ago; it has more energy to it, but the lyrics are still the same. It still has a good message. And it has become more cool. Of course, there are the drinking songs, and breakup songs and the party songs, but much of country music is something everyone can take a message from.

"I have had a good run here. It's truly the best job in the state ... I get to play music, but the audience programs the show."

"For years, I have been the face in the mornings of automated radio stations, getting everyone off to school."

So what's in Mark's future? He has developed a dayglow-colored sign with a simple bold arrow and space to describe events such as garage sales, parties or whatever. The arrow (and sign) can point any direction. And the sign peels off the backing and can be stuck on a cardboard box.

At first, he sold the Peel-and-Stick Sale Signs in a handful of stores. Then he went through the process to place them in Wal-Mart stores. After sales were dramatic at all Yavapai County stores, he recently convinced Wal-Mart to sell them nationally.

The signs are printed in Louisville at Goodwill Industries by about 100 handicapped folks.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2013
Article comment by: Joanne Kincaid

Thank you Mark for your time at KVRD!!! I looked forward to all the requests (I never called in, but thought about it) throughout the years. You will be missed....Happiness Always, because you brought smiles to your listeners for many years.....God Bless...

Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013
Article comment by: Mike (

You are a good man and friend and a great DJ. Though I understand your decision I share in the sorrow expressed by others. I moved away years ago but still listened online whenever possible. I wish you all the best and I hope whom ever takes your place has some very big feet because your shoes will not be easy to fill.

Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Article comment by: Rosemarie Babcock

I will miss hearing Mark's great voice and his morning show. It's true how country music has this special effect, no matter what the issue, to bring you to a different place. When my brother, sister and niece and I moved here, back in '93, we had to leave our parents behind, (they moved here in 2001), and we only knew 2 people that lived in VOC. We had some lonely times. I then found Mark's radio program and that helped me adjust from moving from California to a very small town. A lot has changed since then for the Yavapai County, we've built up a lot, and through it all Mark has been there, listening, conversing and playing all the great country songs. You will be missed Mark, but I do wish you well on your new endeavor. God Bless!

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Article comment by: Elaine Farr

I'm so sad that Mark will be gone. I've enjoyed his morning show ever since I moved back to Yavapai County. Good luck Mark, with all your future endeavors!

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2013
Article comment by: hollye abel

Mark gave me my nick name Nascar Hollye even though I moved to Montana I would still listen on line on my day's off. He was there for me when I needed a shoulder when Austin died and I was there for him. Mark will be greatly missed. He is my friend and I wish him all the best in his life.

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Article comment by: Deanna King

Thank you Mark for your voice in the morning. You will be missed. Best of luck to you in your new venture.

Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Article comment by: Job well done

Many of us grew up with this guy and will miss him.

Thanks for everything.

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