Mark Samansky   Biography

Mark Samansky: Radio antics hooked his audience
April 06, 2011|By Nicole A. Willis, Orlando Sentinel

Mark Samansky was popular in the Orlando radio market for decades. He was the Mark of the "Baxter and Mark Show." At the closing of his parody rock band's shows in Orlando, Mark would light his guitar on fire, colleague Adam Fendrich said. Samansky's latest Facebook profile picture even shows him doing it. These performances, however, were merely Samansky's hobby. His voice was a staple of rock radio in Orlando for 20 years.   He was known for his twisted and irreverent sense of humor, extensive knowledge of rock music and musical parodies performed on air and at various small Orlando venues. Samansky, of Westminster, Colo., died Sunday of complications from a stroke. He was 59. In the ever-evolving radio industry, Samansky carried listeners from station to station, hooking them with his on-air antics, his colleagues said. "Mark was a born entertainer," said Fendrich, program director of Dial Global Radio Networks in Denver. "His personality resonated with listeners." Samansky's radio career began in 1976 in Cheyenne, Wyo., as host of KCHY's (now KDAM-FM 94.3) afternoon drive-time show. After a few years there and at stations in Denver and Chicago, Samansky began a hit show with fellow disc jockey Alan Baxter in Houston, "The Baxter and Mark Show." The show came to Orlando rock station WDIZ-FM 100.3 in 1983, one of Samansky's former producers, Chris Hill, said. "He had the craziest sense of humor out of everyone I've ever worked with in radio," Hill said. Hill said Samansky owed his following to his original skits. One bit was called "Shaq Daddy," when Shaquille O'Neal played for the Orlando Magic. Samansky once had a friend call in and pose as O'Neal's father. Together, they improvised and poked fun at the basketball star's free-throw shortcomings. "Baxter and Mark" was rated for a while as the No. 1 radio show in Orlando among adults 18 to 34 years old. It lasted until 1992.  The rock station is now heard only online. Like Samansky's food preferences, his material was spicy. "There'd always be people who didn't get the joke or were offended, but that's what got the show such high ratings," said "Baxter and Mark" program director Neal Mirsky. "He knew where the line was, and he liked to dance as close to the line as he could without going over it." His jokes fit the category of "shock," much like those of Howard Stern. Samansky was fired for an off-color comment made on air in 1993 while working for Orlando talk-radio station WWNZ. His next gig was at classic-rock station WHTQ, with a ratings-topping summer in 1996 among 25- to 54-year-olds. Samansky later served a one-year stint at WJRR in 2000 alongside Larry the Cable Guy, and he helped produce the now-famous comedian's first album. Samansky and his wife, Karen, had a music studio in their Orlando and Denver homes where he recorded his parody albums.  His songs included "Stuck on the Freeway," a tribute to Orlando traffic, and "Where's Your Passport?," a tune poking fun at Karen's nagging him about packing for an upcoming trip. Samansky returned to Denver in 2003 to produce and host a weekend show for Dial Global. Samansky also is survived by his sister, Ronda Gengler, and mother, Phyllis Samansky, both of Franklin, Tenn. Horan & McConaty Funeral Service Cremation, Denver, is handling arrangements. or 407-420-5015
Copyright 2011 Orlando Sentinel

From All Access:
...On top of his Dial Global, Mark most recently produced the Greg Kihn Show for Dial Global Radio Networks. Mark's career included stops as morning man at Entercom Classic Hits KQMT/Denver, and he was half of the Baxter & Mark duo from former Rocker WDIZ/Orlando. Dial Global Classic Rock, Digital 24/7 PD Adam Fendrich told All Access, "Mark first joined me in 2006 after leaving the morning co-host slot at KQMT. Rarely a week would go by when we wouldn't receive a call or e-mail from a listener or friend of Mark's, wondering how he got on their radio station so far from the large markets where he became famous. Mark was also the producer of The Greg Kihn Show in the latter half of its syndication with Dial Global. Despite his professional dependability, Mark possessed the mind of a demented 16 year old who was obsessed with the odd and uncomfortable. Mark was also a talented guitarist and synthesizer player. His love of rock and musicology were only surpassed by the love for his wife of more than two decades, Karen."
Larry The Cable Guy, noted, "The Radio world lost one of the funniest, quickest and most knowledgeable jocks ever today. Mark Samansky (or as I called him, Ole Marky Boy), will be missed more than he would ever know. I enjoyed every second of my time on the air with him over the years on WDIZ and WJRR in Orlando, and when it came to making me laugh nobody could do it better. Mark has supplied me with some of my greatest memories. He was a master at what he did and to this day I still tell Samansky stories to people. I will miss him. He's was and is still to me and many people in Central Florida one of the funniest, best, and most talented on air talents of all time. Well miss ya Mark. I love you and so does everyone you ever came in contact with. Long live the memories of WDIZ and Mark Samansky. Great times indeed."
And, Greg Kihn added, "Mark was not only a great radio guy, he was a wonderful person, a class act all the way. I already miss him. He made radio sound good."

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