13 years ago today a voice was silenced and every day since when I come in to work, I have seen the following on my computer.
I lost a co-worker, a mentor and a friend on April 29, 2000. It was sudden and unexpected. Here's a link to his obituary from the LA Times
By the time 2000 came around, I had been working for KFI for 7 years, and Mark Denis was a constant presence. He along with Mike Nolan, was the KFI traffic department for KFI/ KOST and KACE, all of our stations located in the little building in Koreatown.
Not only did he do traffic for KFI, he was THE 'voice' of KFI. You know, all those top of the hour station ID's with the deep voice, it was a voice you knew instantly, you knew listening to him that you were listening to KFI. It was so authoritative, yet so comforting and sometimes downright fun. Here's a montage from a CD we put together after his death that shows some of his work.
Mark Denis was one of those people that you sort of can't believe exists. He was one of the first to introduce himself to me when I was an intern, and told me that I should come by his office anytime to ask questions about the business.
He was kind, generous and funny and always had time for anyone who walked by his little office in the corner that was filled with papers, maps, computers, awards and all sorts of little keepsakes.
And every year, on your birthday, he would call you and leave a message on your voicemail just to say 'Happy Birthday, I hope you have a great day'. He was one in a million.
He also had a comfy chair. I'm not talking about the chair he had in front of his board, where he did traffic, but a chair up against the wall behind that where visitors could sit and chat up until the few seconds right before he went on the air when he would politely excuse himself from the conversation he was having with you to turn on that radio voice and do his report. When done, he'd turn back around with a big smile on his face and say 'now, where were we?'
My husband, Tim, used to do The Tim & Neil Show with Neil Saavedra, and after Mark's death we dedicated the entire show to him, here's one segment where they talked about 'the chair.'
Mark loved radio, I mean he loved it. He lived and breathed it. He loved everything about it, and he is the guy that you'd go to release a little frustration and he'd listen and then he'd say, "Now, think about that, think about why you're here, is it really their fault, or can you do this better, are you working up to your potential?"
He's the guy who could help you put things into perspective and scold you without scolding you. He was 'the dad' of KFI....here's another Tim & Neil segment about that.
He also had everyone, and I mean everyone's, respect and if he was angry at you for something he would tell you straightforward and you'd work it out and move on. Here's one more Tim & Neil segment about how Mark defined what respect means.
He's also the guy who drilled into my brain that this business is constantly changing and shifting. "A gig's a gig" he would say, meaning if you love it enough you accept that things can change in a moment and you need to just move on to the next thing with a positive attitude, and make your mark.
Well, Mark definitely made his mark. Especially in my life. I posted his photo on my computer all those years ago after his funeral because I knew I couldn't go over to his office to sit in the comfy chair to talk to him anymore. However, for many months after his death, his office was empty and stayed pretty much the same, so there were more than a few times I went in there and just sat in that comfy chair for just a few minutes and talked to Mark, it sounds crazy but even those little moments relieved some of the stress of this business.
Every morning I come in and see the above photo and this one...
....and consider WWMDD? What Would Mark Denis Do? and I remember these things Mark taught me:
- Don't get overwhelmed, a gig's a gig. If it's not this one it'll be another
- Do the job to the best of your ability
- Be nice to everyone, you never know when you might need someone's help...or...a job
- Love what you do, if you don't, find something else to do
Not a day since I got that call 13 years ago, have I not thought about Mark Denis. Not a day goes by that I don't miss his friendship and guidance. Not a day goes by that I don't miss his voice.
I remember his funeral and how the church was overflowing with family, friends, co-workers and even listeners. While the event was incredibly sad, at the end of it his family said he didn't want people to be sad and they played this song. Listener Jim reminded me of the song...it's called "De Colores"...here it is... I've put the English lyrics at the end of this entry.
By the end, as you were leaving the church, the song made you smile and know that even though he was gone from this earth, he would never be gone from our hearts....and that's true.
Mark taught me so much, not only about the world of radio, but just how to be a better person.
I miss you.
De Colores (copyright: Cursillo National Organization)
The colors! The colors!
The fields love to dress in all colors in springtime.
The colors. The colors.
The birds have their clothing that comes every season,
The colors. The colors.
The rainbow is vested across the blue sky.
The colors! and so must all love be of every bright color to make my heart cry. (repeat)
Sings the rooster, sings the rooster with his, "Quiri, quiri, quiri, quiri-quiri."
And the cluck-hen, the cluck-hen with her, "Cara, cara, cara, cara-cara."
And the babe-chicks, and the babe chicks with their, "Pio, pio, pio, pio-pio."
Joyfully, joyfully, we will live in God's grace for we know that is what can be done.
We will ease our thirst for the King that never, ever dies.
Joyfully, joyfully to Christ we will bring one soul and thousands more.
Spreading the light to enlighten the Lord's grace divine, our greatest ideal.