People 2015: Mark Schectman, Dallas Music's Radio Evangelist
For Mark Schectman, local music is an adventure. Join the club
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 20 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Can Turkyilmaz. Click here to find all our People Issue profiles.
Mark Schectman doesn’t look like much of an evangelist. As he goes through a stack of CDs mailed to him by bands and publicists begging for airtime, he looks like a giddy kid surveying his Christmas score. But relentless positivity is just what Schectman, host of Sportsradio 1310’s The Local Ticket, is about.
Since at least 2012, Schectman has been standing outside Dallas’ window, holding up the local music boombox and hoping for someone out there to fall in love with what’s coming out of it. “It’s music evangelism, is what it is,” he says with a smirk. “Let me tell you the good word. I brought you a pamphlet, but inside, here’s this new album.”
Over the past few years, Schectman’s role has evolved in some unexpected ways. Right now he’s hosting the city’s best local music show on his favorite radio station. It may seem odd that it’s a sports radio station, but Schectman feels at home at The Ticket. When he got his start in radio at UNT in Denton, he picked up an evening shift doing sports because an early-morning hosting gig didn’t jibe with his school schedule.
“That was a total lie. I didn’t want to wake up that early,” he says. “I liked sports, and when I got to KNTU, everyone there was a huge P1.” (A “P1” is a fan of The Ticket.) As a result, Schectman started listening to The Ticket. “There are so many inside jokes that come with listening to The Ticket, and I thought they were funny, but everyone knew that I didn’t know why they were funny. I felt like an idiot.” He later interviewed with the station’s program manager Jeff Catlin for a gig that he wasn’t yet qualified for, before ultimately finding a home at 102.1 The Edge.
Schectman’s role at The Edge fluctuated for a while, but in 2012 he took over The Local Edge from Josh Venable. Schectman used those hours to bring attention to some of the best local bands, most of whom barely saw airplay on Dallas’ radio stations outside of occasional mentions on Paul Slavens’ show. For local music nerds, those few hours on Sunday night were a breath of fresh air.
And then, in April 2014, The Local Edge came to a very abrupt end. Schectman woke up to an email from his program director letting him know that the station would be eliminating his show, which, in his words, was “not the best way to find out.” He sent his résumé out to radio stations across the country, hoping to find a similar gig, but also fired off an email to Catlin, pitching him an improved version of what he’d done at The Edge.
Eventually, Catlin offered Schectman the job. The first episode of The Local Ticket aired on March 22 to an overwhelmingly positive response. If there is one criticism of The Local Ticket, it’s that the show is not exclusively local, a jab Schectman was prepared to dodge. “I wanted the local bands to be mixed in with national indie bands to prove a point,” he says defiantly. “You’re hearing that this music all sounds great together and it’s the same quality. These bands are in the same boat in other cities. And I just like the way that it all sounds together.”
In music’s digital era, there’s a strong argument that geography doesn’t determine a band’s success. But Schectman believes local music has intrinsic value. “This is your community that you are a part of. If you want to be active in this community, that’s what you do,” he says. “Do something that supports your local whatever — arts scene, music scene, whatever. This is happening here.”
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