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Talking radio for more than 30 years

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The other day, I sat down to interview Mark Davis at my home office. I figured it was going to be difficult to interview a guy who was used to being on the “interviewer” side for about 30 years; a guy who has lobbed questions at every top-tier elected official, entertainer and newsmaker from coast to coast.

My concerns were put to rest instantly when he said he was looking forward to being the “interviewee” for a change, and had read several of my past articles on people and issues in North Texas.

Mark Davis, a resident of Flower Mound, is a radio host, newspaper columnist and political commentator that is well-known in the industry. The Mark Davis Show, “The Answer,” airs weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on 660AM, KSKY in the Dallas F/W Metroplex. In addition, his weekly column in The Dallas Morning News hits all the right notes as he comments on everything from the recent suicide of Robin Williams to the dubious criminal charges against Gov. Rick Perry. In fact, he had just interviewed the governor before leaving the studio in Irving, Texas for the drive to my FM home.

Born in San Antonio in 1957 and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., (his father was in the military, assigned to the Pentagon), Davis graduated from the University of Maryland in 1979 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He started as a news anchor and reporter at WKAZ/ WQBE in Charleston, W.V., from 1979 to 1981. From there, he went to WOKV in Jacksonville, Fla., serving again as a news anchor until launching a talk show in 1982. He went on to other stations in Memphis, Tenn., Tampa, Fla. and Washington, D.C., before coming back to the Lone Star State in 1994, hosting his own show every weekday on WBAP, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. He would be in that position for 18 years, often going national when he subbed for Rush Limbaugh behind the “Golden EIB microphone” about 10 times a year.

In 2012, the station came under new ownership and contract negotiations began. Because of policy differences with the new owners, he decided to leave. “For the first time in my career I left a job before securing another one,” Davis said.

He said it was a strange feeling to be out of work, but he and his wife, Lisa, prayed about it and left it in God’s hands. However, it wasn’t very long before the job offers came in. When Mark landed at KSKY two months later, he hit the ground running, to the delight of his legion of fans. As an extra added attraction, he also hosts Bill Bennett’s national “Morning in America” show on Fridays, from 6 to 8 a.m., which leads right into Mark’s local show. If you’re like me, and you’ve been listening for many years to that familiar voice, which often breaks up in uproarious laughter, it seems as though you’re conversing with a family member or a trusted friend. Moreover, your ears get tuned in to the voice modulation and you’d recognize it anywhere.

Describing himself as a libertarian conservative, Davis opposes smoking bans, religious indoctrination in public education and illegal immigration. He also supports the war on terror and drug prohibition.

His first radio experience began in college. “There were auditions for a campus radio station, which sounded like fun and I did that, but I also covered news, for which I used a tape recorder. You’d go out and get the news, come back and edit the tape and write the stories around the audio that you gathered. It was the creativity and the delivery of newscasts that was instantly fascinating and I decided this was the kind of journalism I wanted to do.” When he graduated, he went looking for that type of job. “I sent out audio tapes all over the country,” he said smiling.

Charleston, W.V., was his first professional radio job. “I was asked to do a talk show and I was thrilled. Now, I could not only cover breaking news, but I could talk about it and tell people what I thought, and then take calls from listeners and ask them what they thought. It was broadly satisfying, and I was only 24 at the time. I didn’t embarrass myself too badly,” he added with a self-effacing shrug.

Adding to his numerous accomplishments, he is now the author of “Lone Star America: How Texas Can Save Our Country” (on Amazon.com and other online booksellers).  Published by Regnery in July 2014, the book, with a forward – by Sean Hannity, author of three New York Times bestsellers and host of “Hannity” on Fox News Channel – describes the many ways in which the state has led the way for the other 49. “Texas is a 20-year laboratory of what is working,” Davis said.

Asked about journalism today, he said, “The notion of objectivity, being fair and presenting both sides has not been totally lost, but it’s hard to find. There are times when reporters on the scene of a compelling incident seem unable to keep their political biases and opinions out of the hard news stories.”

I wondered how much voice quality mattered in radio. “Today, not very much,” he replied. “In terms of the traditional sense of having broadcast skills and deep pipes, it was probably a factor in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but then the most important questions arose in talk radio, ‘are you entertaining and do you know what you’re talking about?’”

Having spent over two hours in riveting conversation with Mark, it was demonstrably evident that he fulfilled those requirements with ease. It’s truly reassuring to know that he uses his influential voice for reason and common sense at a time when it often seems to be a vanishing principle.

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