On August 12th, 2016, my daddy, Mark White, Sr., was diagnosed with aggressive stage four cancer. The next day was Saturday. For over a year my Saturday mornings had consisted of going to Applebee’s restaurant to co-host Tailgate Talk, a local sports show aired on WKAC in Athens. The Saturday morning after the cancer diagnosis daddy asked me if I was going to the show. I told him that I was going to stay with him. To me, with my daddy’s cancer battle ahead, talking about sports didn’t seem very important. My daddy passed away three weeks later on September 5th. When he died, it was the most difficult experience I’ve ever gone through. It put me in a real state of depression. Among other things, going back on the radio show wasn’t even in my mind. In my mind, I was done.
I remember getting into my daddy’s truck after he passed and the radio was tuned to 1080 AM. It was his favorite station and the same station which Tailgate Talk airs on. I thought about the times that daddy would call me and tell me that he had listened to the show that morning. I thought about how he enjoyed it. I decided to go back. Although it took a few weeks to get back into it, being there was a start.
By December, I began getting my enthusiasm for life back and it came in the form of writing. My very first story was on Harlon Hill, who graduated from Lauderdale County High School where I also graduated. The article ideas kept coming and I kept writing. It was therapy. What I most enjoyed was writing stories about others and the difference they were making in the lives of others. As I moved forward, doors began opening. It wasn’t too long before I began writing articles for Shannon Phillips with Southern Family Magazine. There, I was able to write stories about business owners and find out what their motivation was. On Tailgate Talk, I found myself talking to amazing athletes, but wanting to know who they gave credit to as young people. I wanted to know what they had to share with young people through their experience. I wanted to know what they were doing to make a difference today.
In October 2017, I attended a WordPress conference in Birmingham. At that conference, I noticed a guy who had a microphone set up for a podcast. I struck up a conversation with the guy, whose name was B.J. Keeton, to get a better idea of what he was doing. After talking with a couple of people, my wheels were turning. I was already doing a radio show with Applebee’s Tailgate Talk, why not have my own show where I talk about people who are making a difference in our communities? When I came back from the WordPress conference, I discussed it with WKAC producer Tim Lambert and Ken Gobell with CDI, who I do marketing work for.
On the morning of November 3rd, 2017, The Mark White Show debuted on WKAC 1080 AM. My first special guest was my friend Deputy Randall McCrary, who is a teacher by day and a deputy by night. From that point forward, I had great guests doing amazing things. People would also send me stories of good deeds they had heard about or witnessed themselves. One thing I knew was that I wanted to reach as many people as possible with the show. I wanted these difference makers to be heard.
One of the stations I had listened to since I was a teenager was Superstation 101 WYDE in Birmingham. The station is owned by Crawford Broadcasting based out of Colorado. After discussing the possibility of having my show broadcast out of Birmingham, it became a reality. In addition to airing on WKAC on Friday mornings at 9:30, the show will be airing on Saturday morning at 8:30 on WYDE. The shows debut on 101 FM is this Saturday with special guests representing the Autism Society of Alabama and Sacred Selections, an organization who helps families with adoption.
In August 2016, I almost gave up radio. It was not easy to come back from the deep sadness that came with losing my daddy, but I did it. I know he would be pleased with what I am trying to do with The Mark White Show. If he were still alive, he would be calling me about the shows. That is a happy thought. In a world where it’s easy to get down and negative, I’m thankful that I have found something that I can do to try to encourage others. As I talk to these amazing people and read their stories, the person that it encourages the most may just be me.