Mark Copeland let go from radio station WQKL
Mark Copeland, a program host and music director on radio's WQKL (107.1-FM), has been let go from the station.
Copeland is no longer listed on the station's website, and both Copeland and the station, known as "Ann Arbor's 107one," confirmed via email that his employment ended last week.
Program director Chris Ammel said Copeland was laid off as a downsizing move and there is "no word on a replacement at this time."
Copeland elaborated via email: "It was a budget crunch. Even though 107one is doing extremely well both with revenue and ratings, the parent company Cumulus is going through some big transitions and it meant that markets across the country had to tighten their belts. It wasn't anything personal, it was just business."
According to the most recent Arbitron radio ratings for commercial stations in the Ann Arbor market, WQKL is tied for third place with WCSX in Detroit (behind WJR and WWWW). The station generally follows an "adult alternative" format geared to the Ann Arbor area and is a visible sponsor of community events like the Sonic Lunch concert series.
In addition to his role as music director, Copeland had been the midday (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) DJ on WQKL, as well as the host of the Sunday night programs "Under the Radar" (covering new releases and lesser-known music) and "Sonic Bliss" (trip-hop and ambient sounds). He had been with the station since 2004.
Host John Bommarito is currently filling in for Copeland's on-air slots, but Ammel said that is temporary at this point. Ammel said both Sunday shows are expected to continue.
Wrote Copeland, "I am hoping I can come back at some point in some kind of capacity to do those shows. I really enjoyed doing them and they got a really positive response. That is the fun part of the job—to be creative using music. I didn't invent 'Sonic Bliss,' but our station picked up where a Detroit show called 'Big Sonic Heaven' left off—and a lot of people came to our station because they were looking for that kind of show, and they wound up liking the rest of what we do too ...
"I never did this for the money, I did it because I loved doing it and I hope to make some visits to Ann Arbor to catch concerts and events," added Copeland, who lives in Dearborn Heights. "I'll be there for a few Sonic Lunch gigs and I will definitely be at the Tally Hall show next month. "
Copeland expects his full-time radio career is probably over, but he plans to stay in Michigan and hopes to find something stable: "If I could find something locally that is music-related that would be great, but the music industry isn't exactly thriving right now. I am extremely lucky to have not been unemployed for over 14 years."
Copeland offered some parting thoughts: "I really loved working at 107one. I have worked in radio for 23 years and I have never worked at a station that had such a positive response and an impact. I think it was because we walked a fine line between being cool for the musicheads, but familiar enough for more passive radio listeners. The radio listeners in Ann Arbor really pay attention and the goal of the station is to treat the listeners with intelligence and respect and to just relax and let the passion for the music come out.
"It's kind of hard to believe this, but there are a lot of radio stations out there that don't want people like Martin Bandyke, John Bommarito and me—who are really into music and fight to get things played. We are all lucky that we had a program director that allowed us to do our own shows on Sundays and to keep that fire burning. Most stations, including the ones in Detroit, don't ever want to stray too far from the same old stuff and I think that is one of the main reasons radio is struggling in so many places. It sure isn't in Ann Arbor, and 107one is proving that listeners like to be surprised and even challenged sometimes.
"I don't think I could ever find another station that would allow that kind of connection. We did a lot with just a few passionate people on the staff, and I will miss working with them the most. I want to say thanks to the Ann Arbor community for making it all work so well."