A Few Minutes With...Mark Drelich

NOW! Radio host Mark D talks about his life in radio and how he almost ended up as a Rabbi?

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

"I WASN'T allowed to listen to the radio growing up," admitted NOW! Radio host Mark Drelich, who moved to Edmonton from hometown Brooklyn when he was about two years old.

"When I was younger I would put one Walkman headphone in my ear for the 630 CHED Oilers broadcast, and the other I would keep out to hear if my mom was coming down the hallway."


Mark D in training at Toronto's Humber College

That's quite a progression from then and now - no pun intended - given Mark's current position at perhaps the most engaging FM station in the city. 

Clearly, being in radio was never on his radar, let alone something Mark ever imagined for his future. Especially coming from a "very religious household" that had assumed he would take a more divine route, like his siblings. 

He travelled to Toronto and Baltimore to gain a wider cultural understanding, and spent two years studying abroad in Jerusalem. "I was like a little nomad, all over the place, bouncing around," he laughed.

Mark D @ NOW! Radio studio
After returning home from Israel in 2010, Mark knew that he didn't want to pursue his parents' own religious inclinations, or to be involved in religion at any level for that matter. That's not to say he hadn't tested the water first though.

"I went to a religious boarding school that was just religious studies all day, from 7.30 in the morning to 9.30 at night," Mark remembered. "It was hardcore, seven days a week! There was no math, there was no science, there was no social, calculus, nothing! I was just like a deer in headlights when it came to all this."

There was also no high school diploma, and so that meant that Mark's options were already limited, without further education under his belt. More importantly, he had no real direction in terms of pursuing a career, no idea what his next step would be.

He found out about a now-defunct employee assistance program called Youth Connections, where he completed an aptitude test that suggested one of two paths for Mark. 

102.3 NOW! Radio

"After two 6-hour tests over two days, it finally boiled down to law and entertainment, left field and right field." Mark ruled out law and instead scrolled through the various sectors of entertainment, until he got to the very bottom of the page. Radio!

"It kinda sparked something in me," he said, "and so I started doing some Googling and I started finding out all about radio in Edmonton.

"When I was trying to get into radio school - and they don't remember this - I actually went into NOW! Radio's studios and asked if they could show me around. It's just funny how I ended up there."

Without an actual diploma, Mark was not able to get into the radio program at NAIT, SAIT or at Vancouver's BCIT, but was accepted to Chicago's Columbia College and Toronto's Humber College.

"I wasn't allowed to listen to the
radio growing up"

"Columbia was a four-year program at $42,000 a year, and Humber was a two-year program at $3,500 a year, so....

He continued, "[At Humber] I did Radio Broadcasting and after my first year, I started knocking on doors in Edmonton and asked, 'Can I work for you?'"

He landed a position as a "cruiser" with Corus Entertainment, a Canadian media and broadcasting company that owns many TV and radio stations throughout North America, including YTV, HBO Canada, OWN Canada, and ABC Spark, as well as several radio stations right here in Edmonton. 

Photo shoot for Mark's NOW! Radio website profile

"I still remember my very first radio job," Mark confessed. "I was standing outside the Roger Waters concert at Rexall Place in June of 2012, holding a plastic guitar, asking people if they wanted to take a picture near the Joe FM tent. True story."

Eventually, thanks in large part to Humber alumni Rob Grant, Mark found himself sitting across the desk being interviewed by the bosses over at 102.3 NOW! Radio for the overnight show. That meant midnight to five in the morning, but it also meant an on-air position right out of the gate!

"It was overwhelming," Mark remembered about his very first day on air at NOW! "Thankfully, the tools at Humber allowed me to feel - what I believed at the time - confident.

"But that was college radio, which - no disrespect to college radio - you're in a controlled college setting, and it's a smaller station. Here, you're in Edmonton, and you know there's expectations to perform, even if it's the overnight show."

Mark D & his father
Despite his late night timeslot, Mark admits that he's happy where he is and with what he sees for his future in radio. "I love working for NOW!, because of the reach it has and the idea that there's so much conversations and so much interactivity going on.

"The overnight show, I'll be honest, is tough at times," he continued, "but, it's a good learning curve. If you do mess up or slip up, you don't have to feel so bad; you know it's kind of a training thing. I do like the fact that I have room for marginal error on the overnight show." 

Listen to one of Mark's shows, and you'll know that he's no longer just the new kid training for whatever it is that comes next. If you're like me and in bed by 11, then Mark may very well be a stranger to you, but there's no doubt that he'll one day be that familiar voice streaming from your car radio on your way to your morning coffee.

You can catch Mark on NOW! Radio every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 12AM-5AM, and twice on Saturdays from 12AM-5AM and 8PM-12AM. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Now, let's get personal...

Favourite movie of all-time? Boondock Saints.

Last album you bought? deadmau5 For Lack of a Better Name.

deadmau5 album 'For Lack of a Better Name'

Best concert you ever attended? Can I say the upcoming AC/DC concert?

What do you like to do in your spare time? The festivals (Fringe), hockey, working out, and sleeping!

Do you have a favourite website? Reddit.

Place you want to visit the most that you haven't been to yet? Australia.

Favourite places in Edmonton? Julio's Barrio and The Red Piano.

TV show(s) you never miss an episode of? Better Call Saul, Shameless, Entourage.

Celebrity & man crushes? Anna Kendricks and Ronald Reagan!

If you could hang out with one person, dead or alive, for one whole day, who would you choose? My grandfather.

Thanks, Mark!

More Interviews...


Popular Posts

Reason #42 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Reason #41 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Reason #44 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Reason #43 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Reason #35 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'