From interviewing the now late Whitney Houston, to announcing the terrorist attacks on 9/11, radio disc jockey Mark Wallengren of KOST 103.5 has been the voice of entertainment and information for his listeners for the past 20 years.
Wallengren spoke to inspire Pierce students at the first of the Media Arts Department’s speaker series at the Great Hall Tuesday, Feb. 21.
Wallengren spoke to students about how he went from being a country station DJ for a small town in Preston Idaho, to receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work with KOST 103.5 at the Great Hall yesterday.
“Here’s a job that I didn’t think would last 13 weeks, but now I have people ask me ‘Mark, how have you done this for 20 years?’” said Wallengren.
One of his tools to success was investing in putting together his own press kit that included business cards, cassettes with his audio samples and resumes with cover letters on custom stationary, he said.
After sending his press kit out to various stations, he heard back from KOST within a few days.
Although KOST was not hiring at the time, they were so impressed by Wallengren and his press kit that they offered him an internship.
In 1985, after a few years at KOST, Wallengren was given a morning show with Kim Amidon making them the first equally billed and equally paid male and female radio show.
Soon after, many other radio programs began to follow the same format.
As an intern, Wallengren recalls never turning down an opportunity to help out in order to stand out from others and get ahead.
“It doesn’t matter if they contacted me 20 minutes before they needed me, I would drop everything,” said Wallengren. “I’ve had a lot of self doubt but the strong do survive.
Dedication, perseverance and a good attitude were his three pieces of advice for students aspiring to get into the industry.
“Don’t get into the business thinking ‘I gotta have it all now,’” said Wallengren. “It takes time.”
Students were able to meet Wallengren and ask him questions after he spoke.
“His story went from being so simple, and everything got so big into the music industry, which is really competitive,” said student Hugo Ruiz, 19. “I admire his perseverance.”