Mark Parker Interview
WRTP/WCCE – HIS Radio (RTN)
- Started radio after broadcast school. Cut teeth at several small market stations in North Carolina….Oldies, Top 40, and News/Talk formats. Learned radio the ‘old school’ way…..reel to reel tapes, carts, cue-burned ‘45s, razor blades and edit blocks. Yes, there are still a few of us around!
- Joined WRTP in Fall of 1987, shortly after it came on the air as the first Contemporary Christian Music format station in Raleigh-Durham and central N.C.
- In the ensuing years, had opportunities to move elsewhere, but the Lord kept me put. Now into my 36th year with the station. Served in just about all capacities of broadcasting: DriveTime air shifts, Music Dir, Prog Dir, Gen Manager, Sales…..taking out the trash and changing light bulbs. Have worked really hard to stay away from engineering tasks….for the good of everyone!
WRTP became part of Radio Training Network in 2000 and I have been blessed to work with such an awesome group of men and women for the furtherance of the Good News of Christ on radio and multi-media
Mark, tell us what’s new at WRTP… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?
At HIS Radio we feel passionately that radio’s not just a jukebox…it’s a vital part of the pulse of the community. In Raleigh we’ve always been very intentional to be active in the community….visible not only at Christian concerts through the year, but also at things like street festivals and sports events. Multiple times each year we have done targeted outreach projects, often engaging listener participation, to help address needs in our city and serve those who are hurting. When people see you in their neighborhood, work with you on a project, laugh and cry with you, there’s a deeper bond that develops beyond simply enjoying what they’re hearing over the air or on their streaming device. This is not new rocket science…it’s worked for decades, and still resonates!
This year we’re excited to be working alongside Rob Dempsey and the HIS Radio crew at the Greenville SC studios to further develop our “Fun Patrol” Street Teams. This covers the full HIS Radio region of both Carolinas and Georgia. These are carefully built teams of dedicated and trained volunteers which allow us to increase the scope and frequency of having HIS Radio out in the community more often than ever before, living life with our neighbors.
What’s new with me personally: What’s the stage of parenthood called where you don’t have teenagers any more, but they’re still under your roof and you’re not quite yet empty-nesting? Whatever that’s called, that’s the stage my wife Mary and I are in. And we have a new puppy to replace Ginger…who we lost last Summer. So in that way we do have a baby in the house!
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
Like many lines of work, radio can suck you in and chew you up if you’re not careful. 60-hour work weeks? Why would anyone? If you care about the ministry you’re in, you’ll not allow that to happen on a regular basis. We all have work items we need to tend to at home. But learning how to turn it “off” is vital for your family life. When I’m home, I keep my phone close by, but I don’t hover over it. If there’s a fire….someone will let me know. If it’s something that can wait till tomorrow or Monday, I don’t even reply to it.
Basically…the better things are at home, the better they tend to be at work.
Overall, what is the best managerial advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best advice: An old college professor in radio school once said, “Tell ‘em what you want done. Show ‘em how you want it done. Then for cryin’ out loud, step back and let ‘em breathe while they’re doing it!”.
Likewise, our RTN President, Jim Campbell, has taught me so much. I won’t isolate a specific thing he’s said, but in years of watching him I’ve seen him demonstrate that if people know you love them….if they can feel that you really care that they succeed…then they’ll flourish.
The worse advice: Generally the opposite of the above. In years past I’ve been under the heavy hand of micro-managers with minimal patience, short fuses, and narrow minded focus. Never works out.
What’s something you’ve learned about Christian Radio due to the pandemic, that you didn’t know before?
That we have to find the listeners where they spend their time (across countless multi-media platforms). For me, I suppose mentally I knew and understood over-the-air signals were no longer the monopoly they used to be. But the pandemic forced us to learn the how, the why, and the where of digital outlets. Wherever they are…we have to be there too. And in compelling ways!
What impact does RTN have on you and your career?
The men and women of Radio Training Network are the most amazing group of folks I could possibly wish to work with! I’ve grown in my understanding of radio and how it can most effectively be used as a ministry tool.
What is a unique characteristic for your market (or stations), that many wouldn’t know about.
For the market: probably that the Raleigh-Durham “Triangle” metro is consistently one of the top markets for business and economic growth in the nation. Among the leading areas for high tech and medical research.
For the station: probably that HIS Radio operates offices, studios and staffs in multiple cities across the Carolinas and Georgia (serving locally in each market). Of the 54 total on-air signals that HIS Radio is heard on, the WRTP portion in central and Eastern NC is 14 of those.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
3) Finding qualified broadcast engineers (not just “IT”) as we grow and our current engineering teams retire. Where are these people going to come from?
2) Retaining a truly local impact in a remotely controlled world
#1!!) Retaining our saltiness in a world that has tremendous need of salt (see Matthew 5:13)
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
This is a tough one. Had to think a while. I’ll forego the term “heroes” and focus on “influences” (and assume Dr. Johnny Fever does not count!) It’ll be an eclectic list:
Clark Howard, because he was always prepared and delivered content the listener could relate to and use.
Rush Limbaugh, because his personality and content (take it or leave it) remained consistent and magnetic for decades.
The late Ben Birdsong, former Manager at The Wind FM in Springfield, because his easy spirit and joyful commitment to his calling motivated you to do and do likewise.