Community
5:00 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Staff Members Reflect On McCain's Time At KMUW

KMUW General Manager Mark McCain during a typical pledge drive.

KMUW General Manager Mark McCain has retired from the station and licensee Wichita State University. WSU made the information public yesterday in a press release.

McCain has worked at KMUW for almost 25 years and station membership and support have grown because of his leadership.

Lu Anne Stephens and Mark McCain
Oh Pledger Where Art Thou? by Richard Crowson

Part of McCain's job was to make pledge drives fun and easy to listen to. He accomplished this with the aid of Program Director Lu Anne Stephens.

McCain and Stephens asked for pledges during Morning Edition and were often joined in song by cartoonist, KMUW commentator and musician Richard Crowson.

"I think the first time we sang with Richard it was like breaking some unnamed public radio taboo,” Stephens says. "We went there anyway and it worked"

From 1994: News Director Gordon Bassham, General Manager Mark McCain, KWCH's Roger Cornish and two employees from Sam's Club join Pat Hayes in celebrating KMUW's 45th birthday.

Pat Hayes, Member Services Coordinator, has lived through many pledge drives. It’s a time when the station is crowded with volunteers, fun and noise.

“They used to pitch in the same room where we had the all volunteers coming in and answering phones,” says Hayes. “It was a big loud noise during the drive and sometimes we had to be hushed because we would be louder then the operators talking on the air."

Mark McCain began his KMUW career in 1989. The station was then mostly classical music and jazz. He was promoted to Program Director from there and then to General Manager in 1994. Pat Hayes says that McCain never forgot about the listeners and zeroed in on what they needed.

“Because of the foundation that he has laid for the direction for the station, I think we are going to continue to grow and become better and better,” Hayes says. "There has been a real goal in mind of having the station be relevant to the community."

The station has grown and prospered under McCain’s leadership and through the support of Wichita State University, but the main foundation for KMUW comes from the members who sit through the pledge drives and pick up the phones, as well as the support we receive from the business community.

In 2007, McCain spearheaded the signal expansion project. Director of Engineering Jon Cyphers designed an environmentally friendly, tornado resistant transmitter building, moved the antenna to a higher location and boosted the station's reach into much of Oklahoma and as far north as Salina.

McCain also oversaw the revamping of the famous Saturday lineup which has proven to be a hit with the community.

“Weekends used to be this unconnected group of programs,” according to Lu Anne Stephens. "When we started putting the fun programs on like Car Talk and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, we eventually had some of of our strongest listenership on the weekends and that is certainly something he can be proud of.”

The legacy of Mark McCain’s work is a radio station that has proved its value to the community that it serves. KMUW staffers have learned from the best and the station carries on proudly from here.

McCain has cited a family medical concern for his decision to leave the station.

WSU's Vice President for Academic Affairs Tony Vizzini is currently in the process of choosing an interim director.

McCain says he's enjoyed helping the station grow for nearly 25 years. He thanks KMUW members, volunteers, and business donors for their dedication to the public radio community.