We received this message from Ron Sorenson, the manager over at our beloved local radio station, KFMG, regarding the passing of legendary DJ Mark Vos:
It’s with great sadness that I share the news that Mark Vos has died. Mark left us on Sunday morning. His great heart just could no longer maintain after 7 heart attacks over the course of his life. Mark requested that there be no visitation or funeral, and that he be cremated.
There will likely be a “Celebration of Life” at some future time in Des Moines. I’ll keep those who express interest informed about when and where.
Mark was a consummate radio person. He came up through the ranks, and likely held every title one could hold over the course of his career.
He was probably best known for his work at KRNA in Iowa City, as one of “Those Guys” in the Morning.
Mark was one of the early persons involved in this version of KFMG, but my professional relationship with Mark began when I started the 1990s version of KFMG, a flagship Triple A. I brought Mark in as Program Director and Station Manager to “ride herd” on my tendencies to be overly progressive and political, and to inject a note of professionalism into a group of talented amateurs who’d found themselves with a radio station. He did that VERY well. I’ll share just one story here about Mark—one that derives directly from the task indicated above.
One day, after I’d gotten off the air, Mark called me into his office. I’d previously directed him to treat me as an announcer or as the Music Director when I was wearing those hats—despite being the primary owner of the station. Since we were good friends, we both thought that would work—and it did! During my show that day, I’d played Randy Newman’s “Mr President, Have Pity on the Working Man”, and I dedicated it to the Republicans who were then holding their national convention. The economy was in the toilet, and it seemed appropriate to me.
Mark said, “You know that if you weren’t the station owner I’d be firing you right now?”
Confused, I said something clever like, “Huh?”
Mark replied, “Let me ask you this—do you want only Democrats to listen to your radio station?”
VERY cleverly, I responded, “Well…, in a perfect world…”
But his point was, of course, spot on. And was made despite the fact that his personal beliefs were every bit as liberal as mine. Did I really want to offend a significant portion of our audience just to tweak my political opponents? If one wished to grow and prosper as a radio station which truly served the entire community, it made no sense to alienate a large portion of that community. Particularly, as he noted, a portion of that community which signs a number of the checks that were needed to keep our enterprise operational.
I’ll miss Mark. He was the real deal.
I plan to play a set of music in his honor at about 5:10pm, Central, today, right after our 5:01 Blues (a carry-over feature from the last version of KFMG, and one of Mark’s programming ideas). I’ll conclude with “In My Life” by the Beatles—Mark’s all-time favorite band—the last song he played on KRNA in Iowa City.
The Des Moines Register just published a great piece on the impact of legendary Iowa DJ Mark Vos on the local music community. Read the full article here.