Life Behind the Highlight Real

Ep 52: Discovering That Your Biggest and Only Asset Is You With Sports Radio Veteran Mark Neal

December 12, 2022 Sarah Huffman & William Huffman Season 2 Episode 52
Ep 52: Discovering That Your Biggest and Only Asset Is You With Sports Radio Veteran Mark Neal
Life Behind the Highlight Real
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Life Behind the Highlight Real
Ep 52: Discovering That Your Biggest and Only Asset Is You With Sports Radio Veteran Mark Neal
Dec 12, 2022 Season 2 Episode 52
Sarah Huffman & William Huffman

Mark Neal spent close to two decades building an Ohio sports radio station from the ground up, and today he's going to share the story of how having nothing can be your biggest asset. 

It turns you into a creative, hungry, and hard-working scrapper. 

Which is how he built a young format into a powerful force in his market. 

Did we mention that Mark is also William and Sarah's neighbor? Oh yeah -- there are some stories to share about that, too!

Coming up:

1:41 His early life growing up with teachers

22:23 College newspaper in the late 90s, and how he got into his first radio station

25:22 His first radio show

31:35 Becoming a program director and clearing house

32:56 His biggest and only asset is him

34:16 How he got to know Jim Tressel

46:24 Not a lot of success meeting women, so it's time to try something out-of-the-box

56:16 Getting married

57:57 Leaving radio for his wife's job

101:52 Advice for anyone wanting to get into radio

Keep up with the podcast here:

Show Notes Transcript

Mark Neal spent close to two decades building an Ohio sports radio station from the ground up, and today he's going to share the story of how having nothing can be your biggest asset. 

It turns you into a creative, hungry, and hard-working scrapper. 

Which is how he built a young format into a powerful force in his market. 

Did we mention that Mark is also William and Sarah's neighbor? Oh yeah -- there are some stories to share about that, too!

Coming up:

1:41 His early life growing up with teachers

22:23 College newspaper in the late 90s, and how he got into his first radio station

25:22 His first radio show

31:35 Becoming a program director and clearing house

32:56 His biggest and only asset is him

34:16 How he got to know Jim Tressel

46:24 Not a lot of success meeting women, so it's time to try something out-of-the-box

56:16 Getting married

57:57 Leaving radio for his wife's job

101:52 Advice for anyone wanting to get into radio

Keep up with the podcast here:

William Huffman  0:00  
Hey everybody, William here and today we're talking with Mr. Mark Neal the one the only the myth, the man, the legend, my neighbor. And also I heard he called himself a prize bull once.

William Huffman  0:26  
Everybody, William here and Sarah, and, Mark. So everybody today we're talking with the Mr. Mark Neill, the one and only and he is our neighbor. And God bless. Yeah. I'm sure I've brought anxiety into your life at times, but that's okay.

Mark Neal  0:42  
It's a few house buffer. So

Unknown Speaker  0:48  
this is true.

William Huffman  0:48  
That is true. That's super true. So you have a really interesting, you know, work history. But when on this podcast, we get to know everybody from the beginning. So if you try and skip ahead, I'm gonna bring you back, brother. So let's go ahead and start. Where were you born? Siblings, all that stuff, but start in the year 1977.

Mark Neal  1:12  
I was born in February of 77. I'm from Dayton, Ohio. Fairborn is the suburb. People wouldn't know where that is. Right state universities and Fairborn Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which at one time was the largest air force base in the country in terms of size. And of course Dayton's you know where the Wright brothers are from? So it makes sense that everybody is

Sarah Huffman  1:34  
Oh, hi. Oh, yeah, just

William Huffman  1:35  
coming in with the O H. Yeah.

Sarah Huffman  1:37  
i Oh,

Mark Neal  1:38  
so you know, the Wright brothers were from Dayton. And first and flight, of course, they did it in North Carolina, because they needed more flat, more flat room than they had.

William Huffman  1:48  
Seeing, of course, like, we all know this. Okay, I gotta, I'm gonna preface this you guys marketing was very smart. He knows all of his presidents and wants him on your trivia. You do want him. But he but he loves to play host didn't.

Mark Neal  2:04  
But both my parents were high school teachers. And my mom was a Spanish teacher. My dad was actually a industrial arts. So he taught woodshop. Taught metal work, of course. Yes, of course, I have zero skills. And either. And that's one of my biggest regrets is that I never learned Spanish. I wish I had the forethought to sit my mom down and learn Spanish. That would be very beneficial. But I didn't and nor can I do anything with wood other than burn it. Yeah. So yeah, they were high school teachers. My dad ended up at the end of his career becoming a counselor. My mom was at the high school when I was there. My dad was there when both so both my parents were at the high school and my brothers were there. Okay. I have two brothers older. I'm the youngest. But by the time I got to the high school, my dad had become a counselor and left and gone to the junior high, but my mom was there. So my mom was in the building. When I was there.

William Huffman  3:09  
Okay, okay, hold on. Hold on, hold on back. You know, how

Sarah Huffman  3:11  
did parents meet? Like, did they know? Yeah. Yeah,

Mark Neal  3:14  
yeah, they met. They met at the school actually over set up. My dad had been divorced. So my brothers are technically my half brothers, but my mom raised them. Okay. My dad got divorced from his first wife, I think when they were foreign to okay, my dad, actually even in 1973, or whatever it was got custody, which is unheard of. Okay, yeah. Very unheard of, for a single male to get custody of two small children in 1973. But anyway, he was set up with my mother who was single. And they got married a few years later, and I was so I'm their only child pursuing child, but my brothers are always around. And my like, they call my mom Mom. Okay. Yeah, so kind of thing. So it was by biologically I guess it's half, but you'd never really know. Right? Yeah. But anyway, so yeah. I had two parents that were teachers and two older siblings, and school was a big deal. Certainly. Did you like school? Yeah, it was okay. Yeah, it was very, it was a highly focused thing when your parents are teachers. That's school is, you know, the the end all be all of everything. Yeah. That's all I want to talk to you about. Everything evolved revolves around school, stuff like that. So it's kind of interesting because my dad was the first person in our family to go to college. So my grandfather had a fifth grade education was a farmer before he got pulled off the farm to go to World War Two. My grandmother had like an eighth grade education end up getting a GED. She wanted to graduate high school before my oldest brother, which was her oldest grandchild. graduated high school. So she got a GED

Sarah Huffman  5:02  
as an adult, yes. Wait,

William Huffman  5:04  
that's an adult way later. Okay.

Mark Neal  5:05  
So, two generations later you have you know, my dad has had my dad has passed now have two master's degrees and all three of his kids have college degrees. My oldest brother went to grad school at Cornell, and the IVR the other day, the Ithaca, New York, not the Cornell University. Yep, my middle brother went to Vermont Law School and as an attorney, and I have a master's degree in education. So we also two generations removed from a fifth and an eighth grade education. You've got three bachelors, three masters, wow. So are doctorates. A Juris Doctor technically, is what my middle brother has. So it things change, you know? Yeah, it really took it sometimes. And I think people struggle with this. And in America, I guess you see it as an education. Sometimes it just takes one generation to say you're going to college and then that changes everything. Yeah. So my grandparents were determined to send my father and then subsequently his siblings to college. And that was that was and then from there on now. It's the expectation, not the hope.

William Huffman  6:11  
Okay, so I should have had you listened to an episode. We're gonna bring it back. Tell us about Mr. First Grade Mark, Neil. Oh, what are you doing? Like, what are you doing like as a kid?

Mark Neal  6:25  
I played a lot of sports growing up. I always had an interest in sports and watching sports and playing sports and

William Huffman  6:32  
so having two other brothers and then they beat you up and my brothers were

Mark Neal  6:37  
exceptional high school wrestler state qualifying high school wrestling, okay. But I was I'm bigger than they are much bigger now. So they always used to pick on me and they'd double team me kind of thing. And I remember I remember saying something my little my middle brother, saying, Why do you guys do this? He's like, Well, we do it now because we can't do it later. When I was at my heaviest, I was just about as heavy as the two of them combined. They're small guys. Now they put on some weight as they've gotten older, but my oldest brother's probably 5859. He wrestled at 112 in high school. Oh, okay. Well, yeah. And then my middle brother, he's, you know, I'm a little brothers put on some food and drink weight. But he's still probably about 170 pounds, okay, I'm markedly bigger than both of them. Even though I'm younger as well. And I was way bigger than them by the time I was a freshman in high school. So you know, they could do it them but I, I would call their heads together. Now. Give it back back down. But yeah, it was just a lot of that kind of thing.

Sarah Huffman  7:41  
usually think about a household with three boys. Like, did you guys just eat all the time? Being in sports or no?

Mark Neal  7:49  
My mom won't be listening to this. So I can say this, I guess? No, because my mom's cooking was horrendous. And that's one of the that was kind of the impetus of why I love to cook. Now. My grandmother was a very good one my we grew up well until third grade. We actually live the house I own now in Ohio. It was my it was my grandparents house and we live behind it. We just call it the Neil compound. So we had two houses and four plots of land in this square that backed up to one another, right. And so in my, my dad sold the their house to my brother, I have the house now for my grandparents. My brother and I lived there back to back east we my dad and my mom and my grandparents lived back to back. Now my brother sold it and somebody else owns it now and I still own this house. But so we were always at my grandparents house and my Grandma Grandma could cook really well. And she taught me how to garden. She did huge Gardens, which I still use those gardens now to this day. But no, I'm couldn't cook at all. So we didn't eat all the time we ate whatever we can muster.

William Huffman  8:46  
Yeah. Oh my gosh, that's hilarious. Okay, so where did you go to elementary school?

Mark Neal  8:52  
I went to a school called at five points Elementary, which ironically, was just torn down last week. I saw that video. Yeah, it was devastating for me because my brothers all went there. My aunt went there. My dad taught there. I substitute taught there. I met so many friends of mine that I still have to this day there. In fact, I went back I drove back to Ohio in June because they did the last walkthrough. Oh, so I drove all the way back just to walk through so me and one of my best friends from school walked through it together. And that school is down the block from my house in Ohio. What

William Huffman  9:26  
did they said is Ohio like 17 square feet because everything seems to be right behind your back. Yeah, just

Mark Neal  9:32  
everything just so happened to be close to where I lived. But now they built an elementary school next door new one. Okay, so the town got all new schools. They're going to new high schools being built the new athletic facilities, everything was old. And that school was old. For as you know, I joked that the air quality has got to be horrific and Fairborn because Lord only knows what was used to build that place. Right and knocked it down. What is in the air right now? I'm so yeah and five points elementary at the time it's really strange that it was kind of out of date and many reasons one of the ways was out of date was that it was a single story school that was like a half mile long if you stretch it was enormous was the one of the biggest schools in the state but it had like 20 some exterior doors so security for it was impossible and as we've gotten to this world we've been now we think about elementary school security Yeah, now this new schools got like three ways to get in you know, they're all now that school had a door everywhere you looked leading to the outside so it was a nightmare to keep blocked and secured and stuff like that. So it was a matter of time before they built a new one. So yeah, I went to that school from kindergarten through sixth grade and my brothers went there my like I said, my dad taught there I taught them Do you remember what the mascot was? We were the Falcons The Fighting Falcons High School was the sky hawk. Oh the

William Huffman  10:57  
fight and sky hawks that's actually like an aggressive with the sky. Would you rather be a falcon or a sky hawk? First of all, is there a groundhog?

Mark Neal  11:05  
I don't know. The technically what's funny is is that we are mascot was a bird. But the sky Hawk is there's no such bird as a hawk. It's skunks actually a plane but we were a bird. I don't know.

William Huffman  11:15  
That's why I was confused. I mean, I know what a hawk is. Okay, whatever. Moving on. Okay, so we do we do first through sixth grade there. You're You're the youngest of three. Why it's going well, all of a sudden we go to middle school what's going on in middle school for Mr. McNeil?

Mark Neal  11:33  
Just the awkwardness of growing up. You know, middle school is rough. Yeah, I mean, I was lucky. I've always had a lot of a lot of friends that I didn't I still have a lot of friends. So that helped out but I mean, nothing too interesting was going on for sure. In middle school, or even in early high school for me. So

Sarah Huffman  11:54  
how do you pick where did you go to college?

William Huffman  11:56  
Well, Sara, stop. What are you doing? We're not just gonna skip Middle School in high school and go straight to colleges. Stop it. Always trying to jump ahead. How did

Mark Neal  12:04  
you meet Tyra?

William Huffman  12:06  
We'll figure that out in a bit here. I know. Gosh, every time she always skips ahead.

Sarah Huffman  12:11  
How'd you become our neighbor? Yeah.

William Huffman  12:13  
Yeah, no. Well, I that's a good story. Because I was I was involved in it. So we're in middle school. Like, are you hanging or like in band? Are you doing sports? Like what do you what are you doing in a fun typical day?

Mark Neal  12:27  
Oh, it was I doing? Stuff that I can talk about now. Playing sports? Yeah. I mean, I was a soccer player basketball player growing up. You know, the typical high school not doing enough schoolwork? I'm sure yeah, probably goes in there. I worked at a grocery store which is, which is part of my affinity for

William Huffman  12:51  
good. Yeah. See, you wanted to skip this.

Mark Neal  12:53  
It was right near my parents house. I could walk there if I needed to. But that's why I have this strange affinity for grocery stores. I love going there love to go to the grocery store. I learned how to shop work in there looking for price per ounce and things like that. I started off as the guy that pulled all the stuff to the front of the shelf called the front

William Huffman  13:12  
IFO. Oh, yeah. First In, First Out. Yep.

Mark Neal  13:16  
And then I did some register stuff. And then I worked that we actually had a video store in the grocery store. So that was the

William Huffman  13:24  
best that was local. That's where the cool kids got to work. Yeah. So what was your What was your favorite movie growing up? You're a big movie guy.

Mark Neal  13:32  
Oh, wow. See, you know, everybody was always like, favorite. I'm the worst guy at favorites. Like people. What's your favorite food? I don't know. I don't know my favorite. I don't have a lot of favorites. I can always tell you like I have three or four things that would probably be it. But my favorite movie growing up. I was I always liked all the Indiana Jones movies.

William Huffman  13:50  
Okay. Okay. So you must have been just horrified when this one the one comes out where he was in the freezer broken

Mark Neal  13:56  
skull. Yeah, I think I saw that once. Yeah, no Last Crusade, even though Last Crusade is really basically just a redo of Lost Ark. And a lot of ways. I love that movie.

William Huffman  14:09  
Very cool. All right. So now we're in middle school. We're working at a grocery store, maybe middle school, high school. What's going on in high school? Are we getting good grades? Are we out chasing girls? Are we stealing McDonald signs? Like what are we doing?

Mark Neal  14:23  
Like I said, once again, my parents aren't listening. So party in a lot. You know, it was the early 90s. So there wasn't a whole lot. There was no cell phones there. Yeah, we paged each other for crying out loud. Did you have a pager? I didn't have anything like that to work. And I had to have one for the radio station as I got older but no. Yeah, just the regular high school teenage angst.

William Huffman  14:47  
I don't see that. So your high school experience is vastly different from mine, which is vastly different from Sara's. So I don't take normal as just as the answer so but thank you for sharing Ah, so in high school you were also working at the grocery store.

Mark Neal  15:04  
Yeah, that's where I started. Maybe my late, soft very late sophomore year as well. Maybe when I started working, what store was it? It was a place called the farm PHA RM Oh, fancy. Yeah. Like I had a pharmacy in there, I guess. But it was near the house.

William Huffman  15:21  
And of course, it was near the meal. Everything's close to the neocon. They gotta stay close. How far away was the high school from the Neil compound

Mark Neal  15:30  
a mile. So my parents, so my parents commute every morning was just down the road. Yeah,

William Huffman  15:34  
that's awesome. That's right. Because they're both teachers. Yeah. So with all the summers

Sarah Huffman  15:38  
off, like you had mom and dad home at the same time, travel, road trip.

Mark Neal  15:45  
Oh, yeah. We visited people, the family. My parents were very frugal. You know, they wanted to make money. Last so we always went somewhere usually where we could stay with someone. Yep. So he hit my dad's best friend from school growing up lived in West Palm Beach. So we go down there and stay with them, which was cool. My aunt and uncle my dad's sister and her husband, my uncle were military so they were always always summer every three years. Yeah, so we go stay with them wherever they were. My uncle at the time was in Knoxville. So we go down to Knoxville. We my parents like to camps we go to Canada camping and you know, stuff like that. But yeah, they were always home in the summer. My dad was also in the Air Force Reserves. So why Oh, yeah. So I go home I can I have access to the base and things like that. Go and the liquor store there which is cheaper. So he was gone. And they I think he retired by the time I got to high school. He put his years in and but he still got a retirement from that. They were around a lot. I would just play I watched a lot of like baseball. Like, you know, I watched cubs games in the mornings because they were on WGN. And they play day games because really didn't have lights yet. And then I watched the Braves at night. Yeah, I don't think Wrigley got lights till 89 or 90.

William Huffman  17:03  
So when did you like become infatuated with sports?

Mark Neal  17:07  
Oh, probably six, seven years old. Okay, I would you know, baseball card football card, collect and read the stats. And that's how I remember all this stuff I was my first love was really college football, which it still is. So that's kind of where that all began. I loved college football, just the fight songs, and the whole shebang, the pageantry, if you will around all that.

William Huffman  17:30  
So you're a big Bama guy.

Mark Neal  17:32  
No. But that's kind of where I got involved with all of that. And the baseball cards like I said, reading all that stuff. And I just had that kind of memory where I can remember that kind of useless info.

William Huffman  17:47  
So did you like the you'd like the actual split the sports that like the athletic side of it, the stats side of it, like what fascinated you with sports, what brought you to that?

Mark Neal  17:57  
I just like to I like to watch the athletic, athletic, maybe side of it. I didn't really get into the stat side of it. Other than just reading the stats, I didn't really think about much analytical

Sarah Huffman  18:12  
just like what they were capable of.

Mark Neal  18:14  
Just I just liked watching sports. I thought it was fun. You know? There wasn't a lot to do you guys know that in the 80s. There just wasn't a lot to do. So I was my I'm a TV hound I've the TV Oh is on at my house, whether I'm watching movies or games, or you tend

William Huffman  18:28  
to have a lot of cool old classic movies playing and I shouldn't say old classic. But just like movies. I was one movie. We were watching the other day that I hadn't seen in a very long time when it's done in here. So I don't know you just you just had to have a lot of 80s movies on

Mark Neal  18:40  
I always had the TV on it's just that was kind of like my babysitter growing up. So I just always watch something. TV's always on in my house. Alright, so that was about sitting there watching known. It's just on and on. Yeah. So.

William Huffman  18:53  
So now we're in high school. We're thinking about graduating in college was just an automatic for you kind of Oh, yeah. Okay, so, like Sarah said, what was your question?

Sarah Huffman  19:03  
I don't remember where I went to college. Where did you go to college? How did you check it?

Mark Neal  19:07  
Well, my, my family. My both my parents had gone to grad school both at University of Dayton. My middle brother had gone there. And you know, it's a private Catholic school. I'm Catholic. It's a great school. family had gone there. So I went to University of Dayton. So is that where Oh, ah, no, that's Ohio State. Yeah. Okay, that's Ohio

Sarah Huffman  19:31  

William Huffman  19:32  
So Dayton like Dayton I don't have the Dayton

Mark Neal  19:35  
Flyers where it's it's a good basketball school that's why if you've heard of it that's how you've heard of it

William Huffman  19:39  
the fighting fires i don't know i have not

Mark Neal  19:43  
but yeah, it's private Catholic school and Alright,

William Huffman  19:45  
so what were you what when you went to so your your quote unquote, good Catholic boy, right? That not breaking any of the rules. Not not doing anything wrong? Not not

Mark Neal  19:57  
a good Catholic takes a lifetime. I don't even get there. It's always you're always getting better. We're gonna have some

Sarah Huffman  20:07  
good Catholic. Thanks a lifetime. That's glad to be with you on the journey.

Mark Neal  20:11  
Thank you. Yes, absolutely.

William Huffman  20:11  
All right. So freshman year like, what's going on and you take a gap year did you go travel Europe?

Mark Neal  20:18  
I should have I wasn't ready for college. Who really is at that age? Well, I mean, I wasn't ready. Even academically, school was kind of easy for me. And I didn't work hard at it. I'm not to say I was a straight A student, because I wasn't I'm just saying I did enough in high school to get by. And then when I got to college, I got a lot more difficult. And I really didn't have the studying skills or the patients or, and I've never been one that's able to my mind wanders, I've troubled sitting there reading bulk amounts thing I just, yeah, I I just I had troubles doing that. So when it came down to, you know, reading X amount of pages per night of something, it just that was tough for me. So there were parts of school that struggled I struggled with, and there were parts that I certainly you know that I didn't but college, you know, it took me five years, I was no real hurry.

William Huffman  21:13  
What did it was it a four year program? I

Mark Neal  21:16  
colleges, colleges, whatever you want it to whatever you want it to be, some people can graduate without much problem and three, three and a half years. Most people get the pace that you know, the 14 credit hour whatever the case may be usually turns out being a four year thing, okay? Because you're going at a more steady pace. If you wanted to amp it up and go summers, you could graduate in three, three and a half years.

Sarah Huffman  21:39  
You're an overachiever, you would start in high school. Yeah, he could

Mark Neal  21:42  
mean a lot of people have credits going into college. For me, I took a lot of classes that were that didn't get credits. They were just like, studying skills and things like that, that I needed. But I got better at school as I went along.

Sarah Huffman  22:01  
And your undergrad degree was in education and communication. Oh, communication. Yeah. Okay, so

Mark Neal  22:07  
my master's was in education.

William Huffman  22:09  
So at this point, now we're in college. Are we in a frat? No have frats at Catholic?

Mark Neal  22:15  
Oh, yeah, we did. Oh, really? Legendary party school.

William Huffman  22:19  
Tell me more.

Sarah Huffman  22:20  
No, just working on being good Catholic. It's

Mark Neal  22:23  
a famous drinking party school. No, I worked at a restaurant and college. And that's, and I worked for the school paper I wrote, I was like, covered, you know, different, wrote articles for this for that covered different teams as a beat writer type thing. I wanted to be a sports writer, of course that, you know, that was back in late 90s. When newspapers were a thing. And I you could kind of see it coming that that was petering out. At the restaurant I worked at I worked with a guy that worked in promotions at the radio at some of the there's really three groups of radio stations in Dayton, Ohio, you know, the iHeart stations back then was Clear Channel and owned by different companies, but the they'd like blocks of four or five stations in the building rock station, you know? Yeah. Anyway, so he worked for one of the groups of stations, and promotions. And he said to me, he goes, Hey, I'll get you in the building. We have a sports station there. I'll get you in the building, doing promotions, you kind of warm your way through. And of course, that's the best to me. Best advice you can give to anybody that wants to get into my, your profession. Yeah, get in the building and then figure it out from there. hardest part is getting in the building. Okay, so back then, you know, we're talking. I started working there in 2000. Sports Talk as a 24 hour thing was really in its infancy really knew very few stations around the entire country were 24 hour sports. Even the station that was in the building. We were an ESPN affiliate. But we were also a CNN affiliate. We ran block programming for realtors, real tours as we were talking tours, yes. We had a computer, these guys would sit around just like we are back in 2000. So my picture with this was like looking. I stumbled across this website. That's what it was for drive time. You know, just this weird. We had a jazz show on Sundays. It was just this kind of like piecemeal together. You know, we have a sports show. And then it'd be CNN Headline News for the next two hours, you know? So even that even that station, which was an ESPN affiliate was sports only so often. So I worked in promotions for a while setting up remote broadcasts and setting up you know, doing the band contests. Yeah, all that kind of stuff. But I there was a sports show on that station that they did locally. It was just a half an hour twice a week. On Tuesday and Thursday, so I got to talking to the people there. I mean, am I getting too far? Oh, no, no, I started talking with the guys in the hallway and things like that. And they were like, You need to be on this show with us. I was like, All right, you know, so I go in, and like your plan is working. Yeah, I'm like, Alright, so there's three guys on the show. And I come fill it sit in. And they're just with newspapers, like there's no organization nothing. And they're just like, em yamming. So it's just the strangest thing, how this happened. So one of the guys that was on the show, I was on the show with him one time, and he actually quit the station to go do some I think he was working, doing sales for insurance, or you left sales me and these two other guys. The next time we go in on the show, I've got formats printed out, like here's what, I've gotten stuff. And they're like, Oh, you're taking over, it's like, no, I'm just putting, you know, trying to point this horse in the right direction. It's gonna sound better. So within a couple of weeks, one of the other guys, he was the Program Director of the top 40 station, and his role just got too big, he was too busy. So within a couple of weeks, he's gone. So it's just me and this other guy. And then the other guy ends up his he's too busy. He's working at night. So within two months, I have this thing to myself. And it's twice a week for half an hour. So I talked him into doing the whole hour, because it's like, it just

Sarah Huffman  26:32  
we didn't get enough in in 30 minutes that in

Mark Neal  26:34  
the way we did our programming, it just sounds weird to just all of a sudden, what very few things in radio have a clock. And that's a turner radio term, the way the clock is built, where you can just heart out at 3030 minutes after the hour right into something else. Right. And it just it just didn't sound right. It was like it just makes sense for us to go to the top of the hour, hit the legal ID fire up whatever it is, we're going to run after and start a whole new hour. So we did that. Twice a week for an hour. And I did that for a long time, part time working there. What

William Huffman  27:09  
was the show about nor was it called? Mike, it was

Mark Neal  27:13  
called the tailgate party. Okay, and we talked about local, like, we're not local sports, somewhat local, but you know, browns, Bengals, reds, sports like, yeah, right there. Yeah, that's the beauty. That's one of the things I loved about doing sports in Dayton, I could talk Cleveland and Cincinnati and Columbus as opposed to being in Cincinnati and being forced to talk about the FC Cincinnati and all this other bowl dive down there. I could talk about whatever I wanted. And plus, nobody was looking over my shoulder. I had free rein to do whatever I wanted, as long as the FCC didn't call,

William Huffman  27:46  
what formal training did you have to step in? And all of a sudden just start doing your own radio show? to none, really,

Mark Neal  27:54  
and that I had been a sports writer for a long time. Okay. So I mean, you knew your style. So I knew how to pick topics. And I always thought that that being a being a sports writer, all those years helped in so many ways, because I could, I had a good feel for what was important. What was the topics? What were the big topics, and I also the writing came in handy because they want you to write stuff for a website. So I wrote articles for the websites, previews of games previews of, hey, here's my division pics, and you'd write a little blurb about anyway, that ended up being beneficial being a writer on radio, which sounds strange, but it really was very helpful. So I did that for a while. I never felt like it was going to go anywhere full time. So I stayed working at the radio station. I was substitute teaching, but I went back to grad school to get because I just didn't know if this was ever going to work out. So I get pretty much all the way through that it was a four, four quarter Yeah, four quarter grads goes a year and a quarter essentially of grad school. I was in the last quarter. And the guy that was the Program Director at the at the am station that I worked at, got let go. So they asked me they're like, Hey, you want to be the program director? I was like, Well, yeah. Wish you told me this a year ago.

William Huffman  29:16  
What does what does it even mean to be that sounds like doesn't seem like a position is to throw somebody in?

Mark Neal  29:21  
I've been there a while. Okay, so he was

Sarah Huffman  29:24  
letting the building departments way through.

Mark Neal  29:27  
I mean, I hate to say this, but comparing me to the guy that I replaced. You're like you were good. Go compare this well, let's just compare to that guy. Yeah. It was it was a big step up. Okay. That guy was I don't know

William Huffman  29:43  
if you know this, but I'm pretty know the

Mark Neal  29:45  
guy was. The bar was set low. Let's just put it that way. He was worthless. I hate to say that, but I just love it. Call it what it is awesome. So I stepped in there and I was like, Okay, here's what I want. Dude, we're gonna do a show five days a week now for an hour. And they were like, Alright, cool. And they brought me in basically be the hatchet man and kill off anything that wasn't sports. So immediately I came in there and made a whole bunch of friends

Sarah Huffman  30:16  
not. So you didn't really nicely.

Mark Neal  30:20  
People don't care at that point. When you tell them you're taking away what it is they do their little ego trip. People get pissed off at Yeah, so I immediately was thrown into a into an very untenable situation. But I you know, that's part of it. I you know, I don't really care. And that really helped me a lot because I always thought stupidly, that people in that business could get along, and people in that business could work together. And we just all do the same thing. Just different now. We're all we're all the same, Sam. And I learned that it just doesn't work that way. I learned that works work. And, you know, friends are friends. And, you know, I, the way I am in my regular life is very different than how I was at work. At work. I was very brass tacks if I didn't like you, or you are in my way, I let you know, I don't I just, I just don't care.

William Huffman  31:21  
Feel Dow coming in. I love it.

Mark Neal  31:24  
I think that's honestly I think that's a Gen X thing. I just think it's a Gen X thing is like, this is my job. I earned this Get out of my lft let's so I was you know, I people that I had gotten to know really well as a part timer. I had to let them go push them out. And so it but it taught me a lot it heartened me it kind of it helped me in in that role. But I became the program director there. I was the first station in Dayton so w ing 14 10am station. It was the first station that signed on in Dayton. And here I am program director station I grew up listening to everybody. It was the it was the station back in like the 50s and the 60s. It was the am when am played all the rock music that was the station he things all the adults were like, Well, you were gonna be ing it's like, yeah, it's a sports station and like, what sports days now? Back then it was the top 40 You know, okay, anyway. So lots of things had to change. We it was, it's a changing world. Dayton is a strange market, we were top 60 market, we were like 59th. But the problem was, is that they had a top 100 budget, but they want to top 20 results. So I didn't have any I was a one man show. So eventually, I had to realize I was like, my biggest and only asset is me. Like I so I've got to do so much stuff. So I wanted to do so much stuff. So I told them. Am I going to know?

William Huffman  33:07  
Let me ask you some questions here. Now, because we're at like a pivotal part right here. Oh, we're gonna get back to it. So how long were you in this position? Intel. So how long were you in the building before you got the director role?

Mark Neal  33:24  
Five years.

William Huffman  33:25  
Okay. So then five years in, you gotta come in, you're the hatchet man. You're start doing you start changing everything, making everything sports, and creating friends. Not so much at times,

Mark Neal  33:38  
depending on who they were. People, the other stations didn't care. They love me. But you know, I had to make some tough decisions. Not tough for me, but tough for other people,

William Huffman  33:46  
right? And then I like that. And then all of a sudden, you're having this realization that they want you to have that champagne taste, but they're giving you a beer budget. So now, so he said you had a realization that you're the asset. That's a really cool, I like that realization. It's just like, hey, if something wants to get done, and they want me to do it, and I'm serious about this, well then I better just figured the eff out. So let's go. So what happened?

Mark Neal  34:16  
Well, another thing I wanted to do is we were the radio home of the buckeyes for football and basketball but for football specifically, and the head coach at the O H i o and the head coach at Ohio State at the time was a guy by the name of Jim Tressel. Okay, Jim Tressel was at Youngstown State for a long time he won four national championships in one double A, but he was my my uncle. So my mom's sister's husband, who were related to him. No, I'm getting there though. Okay, my mom's sister's husband was the head of the philosophy department at Youngstown State and a big booster for the football program and was tight besties with Jim Tressel, when he looks down state all of a sudden this guy that I've known for years, because he comes to family functions. I'd see him I knew him. Oh, okay. You He was now the head coach at Ohio State. So I'm like I told him I told the GM at the radio station. I was like, in mind you had just gotten this job, Mrs. months after I got the job. I was like, Hey, if you guys can get me like 20 footballs, I can get them all signed by coach Tressel will do these pregame tailgate parties and we'll auction these off and give it to the cancer hospital Ohio State and they're like, oh, yeah, sure. Like okay, we'll get you the footballs and next thing you know, I show up and I've got a 20 a box of 20 football signed by Jim Tressel, and they were like that basically open their eyes to this things we can do with this station. So we went from really never doing anything other than just turning the station on, turn it off. And then I get there we we were averaging 100 remote broadcasts a year when we were doing five before I went there. Oh, wow. So we were doing Buckeye pregame shows. We were taking my show on the road just for money's sake. I started a Sunday morning Ohio State recap show that was year round. So 52 Sundays a year. We were at like wing places like flickers and roosters was your Dayton area local. Like, yeah, exactly. So we were doing all kinds of stuff. You know, monetizing the station. And by then they were like just you know, but at the same time now I'm the guy doing all this. And then I decided I wasn't doing enough apparently, I wanted to. We had I had a great relationship with the commissioner of the great Greater Western Ohio Conference, which is the big High School Football Conference in southwest Ohio. So the big schools like Centerville were curb Street went and AJ hawk and all these guys, I know ag hop. Wayne which Marcus Freeman who's the head coach at Notre Dame, he played at Wayne. Oh, wow. So that's all that's all the high schools in the Dayton area. I said, Hey, you know, week, they'll let us and help us and do we'll do high school football. So we started I started calling the games with a friend of mine who is a writer, a high school football writer for a website called JJ huddle. And so we called high school football games every Friday night. So I did the show all week high school football Friday night buck. I've pre games on Saturday mornings, and then the Sunday weekend.

William Huffman  37:29  
How old are you at this point?

Mark Neal  37:31  
26 or 27?

Sarah Huffman  37:34  
And you're basically now working seven days a week. Oh, yeah.

William Huffman  37:36  
And you're running a radio station legitimately running? 24 straining Yeah,

Mark Neal  37:41  
so off the air at night, you got to deal with that kind of thing. And you know, technology changed where I could VPN and do things from home. But those times things happen. You're calling engineers if you have to, you got to go in. That didn't happen a lot. But it happened in with my anxiety, it was problems. Because I just I I'm not really good with things that go wrong while I'm in charge of them. So I really that did not do me a lot of mental health good to have that kind of job. But I survived. But yeah, they just kind of after I started showing them that we can do these things. And we started making money off it. Any idea that I had they basically went for they're ready to run

William Huffman  38:21  
for with it. So so real estate, excuse me radio. You the it's not the most liquid like it's not it's not the most fruitful career out there. Am I right or wrong? financially?

Mark Neal  38:36  
Yeah, no, that was also a lot of the stuff was self serving. You know, I was making not much money as in terms of base salary, I was making more money. Probably in your experience, like all the outside the station stuff. I was making more adding up. Then I wasn't my base salary. And then I was becoming well known in town. So I was endorsing everything. I had tons of endorsement.

William Huffman  39:04  
Okay, so that's how you're able to actually make a living. Do you remember

Sarah Huffman  39:07  
any endorsements that you remember any of your commercials? Oh, yeah,

Mark Neal  39:11  
the one that really sticks out to me the most is it's ironic, because here we are, and he's from around here, if I'm not mistaken was I endorsed my pillow. Oh, right when that first came out, okay, so this is actually kind of a funny story. A guy should I don't know, I should say this, but I guess I was on a conference call. So I'm on a conference call with a bunch of other stations. They wanted to do all sports and news talk. So across the country, news talk and sports talk hosts were on this conference call with a rep for Mike Lyndale and Michael Sandel. So they're talking about all this and the talking points and the history of the company and and the whole thing with the pillows and the Egyptian cotton from the delta of the Nile and the whole thing and then out of nowhere, Michael and they they're like yeah, it is as most of you may know, Mike Mandela was a crackhead. And he's recovering. I was just like, just out of the blue. We're talking really just straight talking business and then all sudden, something to that extent, I'm not sure that was the exact quote, but something he guy was three, my guy had a drug problem of some description. I'll put it that way. That may be a little bit of a loose term I used, but there was some sort of substance abuse that just came out of left field I could collectively hear kind of like, everybody going wow, that took a left turn. But no, I you know, I endorsed many local products. Mathnasium Yeah, just because I convinced the guy we had they were buying a schedule on the radio station and they took me and sometimes they take me in there because I was known in town and they okay, you can hear here's Mark Neil union, you can meet them, he'll be the one doing the reeds on the show. I convinced the guy that lots of dads listened to me on the way home and dad may be the last person that needs to be convinced the little Billy needs to go to need math help. And he'll go home and tell mom, and they'll agree. And he's like, that sounds great. So they paid me what they paid me every week to endorse Mathnasium I endorsed all I mean, hundreds of products over the years. So I wouldn't say

William Huffman  41:19  
you were just 100 you're just whoring yourself out for the highest, I would have

Mark Neal  41:23  
endorsed tampons.

Sarah Huffman  41:26  
Thank you, for all the women in the world think at

Mark Neal  41:28  
some point. You just need the money. Yeah, I'm picking up what you're putting down. That's fair. But at the same time, you know, it is what it is. Yeah. They asked you to basically put your name behind all kinds of things that you aren't, you know,

Sarah Huffman  41:42  
did you ever say no to endorse?

William Huffman  41:43  
I was gonna ask them. Are you ever like I?

Mark Neal  41:45  
I'm sure I have. I'm sure I have I, in fact, I'm pretty positive. I did I but I cannot think of what that product was. Yeah. I there's things that I said no to, but I can't I can't remember offhand what it was. I just remember being like, I'm not comfortable doing that.

William Huffman  42:04  
Alright, so we're now 678 years, how long? How long do we stay at that station?

Mark Neal  42:10  
I was there. 18 years. So I was oh, I was the Program Director for 14 years longest program, longest running program director in the history of that station.

William Huffman  42:19  
Wow. Okay, I have my next question I did my spell is gonna be I didn't expect it to jump 18 years or all of a sudden. So okay, so 6456 years, and you're still doing all of this. Like, what are some of the most memorable things that happened during that 18 years.

Mark Neal  42:40  
Really, just my whole goal was to have a sports talk show that was on every day in that town. We had they had done stuff at other stations, and even at my station that was you know, this here and there once a week, twice a week, nothing that ever stuck. I wanted to build something that was Dayton's and would maybe even live on past me which it still does. The guy that took over me still has the show. In fact, he added a third hour, five days a week. So it still goes on after I left.

William Huffman  43:12  
That's really cool. Which is cool. That's

Mark Neal  43:15  
but a lot of and a lot of great memories from being there. Just

Sarah Huffman  43:22  
I have a quick question, though. So you are program director and yet still went back to grad school?

Mark Neal  43:27  
I was no I was. I was part time while I was in grad school. And then right at the end of grad school is when they approached me because they were like, We're gonna let this guy go, can you would you like to read? And

William Huffman  43:36  
that's when he said like, Why didn't you tell me this a year

Mark Neal  43:39  
ago when I drive crude all the school loans. And at the time you were here for it. I never taught other than substitute teaching while I was doing that, because you actually I don't know if that's the way it is you substitute taught in, you know, in the state of Ohio, you accrue retirement through the State Teachers Retirement as a sub. So I was like, I'm going to start working on retiring now. And so I subbed while I was in grad school, subject to a little over two years, two and a half years of retirement and as a teacher, but I never actually taught as a full time.

William Huffman  44:16  
Okay, okay. So, all right, so, we're living in Dayton. We're working in Dayton, we're running a TV show. Excuse me, a radio station. Not even a show but a station, one of five in the building. Okay, so what are you doing for fun during that time? Like we're yet? Were you dating anybody? Oh, yeah.

Mark Neal  44:35  
I mean, gosh, I didn't get married till I was 37 years old. So, you know, when I had time to do those kinds of things, or when somebody found me acceptable enough to date, I guess. I had, I mean, I'm working in my hometown, so I had all my friends were around for a long time and that stretch of time. My next door neighbor was one of my best friends for My whole life bought the house next door to me. So he and he was like, you know, everybody's friends. So he's like, well, so it was like, it was like living next door to you. But we're both single and everybody comes and hangs out at your house. So I just walked next door and hanging out was one of those kinds of things. Yeah, that's everybody did hang out at my house. So it was one of those things so I would you know, he would go and we'd watch football over there hanging out over there. Whatever. I also hosted now you guys know this. I hosted trivia nights as my in not in the fall. I did actually some in the fall, but I want wound it down a lot in the fall. But in the rest of the year, I would host trivia nights at bars because they paid me well. And people were like, Hey, why and cheese Martini. I'll be here to host this and I did. I did sports trivia I did general trivia, I did all kinds of stuff, just for extra money. And plus, I wanted to meet new people. I was still at home in my hometown. I need to I wanted to get a new circle not to decide not to get rid of the circle that I had. But right at a knew

William Huffman  46:04  
absolutely nothing wrong with that end of the funnel. Yeah, adding friends into the funnel. Alright, so you can get married to at 37. So we're working at the radio station. Man. I mean, I know where you want to go with this. Where do you want to go with?

Sarah Huffman  46:19  
I'll wait for your lead. We'll

William Huffman  46:20  
go ahead.

Sarah Huffman  46:22  
How did you meet your wife?

Mark Neal  46:23  
Oh, well, I'm met her. I just have not had a lot of success with meeting women. I'm in Dayton, Ohio. So I was like, I will be so mad at myself if I don't try something outside the box. So I actually got on online.

Sarah Huffman  46:43  
Were you on eHarmony? No. Plenty of Fish, no Christian Mingle,

William Huffman  46:47  
no match.

Sarah Huffman  46:50  
It was matched. We can name them all.

Mark Neal  46:53  
Which, which, in retrospect, you don't know that going in. But there are incredibly seemingly more men on there than women. So I always joked with Tyra that I actually went on a date with a girl that I would never have gone on a date with just because I wanted to get one out of the way I wanted to like freshen up you're just not know, I just wanted to just Sinaloa what it was just, you know, try it. And it was just like the worst date I've ever been on in my life. And I would get like, just kind of ignored you like whatever from I'm like, Okay, this isn't working as I thought it would. But I saw a tire on there. I don't know what it was. We both kind of talked for a little bit. And then she was she's busy. She's still busy. But we ended up going. Just meeting one time when she her sister lives in Dayton. She was living in Cincinnati at the time. Tyra was

Sarah Huffman  47:47  
and how far away is Cincinnati to Dayton.

Mark Neal  47:50  
Depending on where you live in Dayton about 45 minutes. Okay.

William Huffman  47:53  
And then what age do you jump on this app?

Mark Neal  47:56  
Wow. 3630 So I went on there that long. Okay. And we hit it off really? Well.

Sarah Huffman  48:04  
I have to imagine like your celebrity in the town.

Mark Neal  48:08  
I mean, that's really loose.

Sarah Huffman  48:11  
I'm gonna call you a slept. Yeah.

William Huffman  48:13  
Come on. Come on. Don't Don't don't

Mark Neal  48:15  
Oh, is it best to media celebrity, perfect local media celebrity at best.

Sarah Huffman  48:19  
But so it's like to actually go on a like a site like Was that awkward for you? Or no?

Mark Neal  48:25  
Really, like, more awkward than it was would be for anybody else.

Sarah Huffman  48:28  
I mean, I drink a bottle of wine before I went on.

William Huffman  48:31  
I want to see what your profile looks like. But what was your opening line or email to Tyra?

Mark Neal  48:37  
I don't you know, I don't remember that. I mean, it's been so long now. I really don't remember that. I just know that she was a sports fan. And I was a sports fan. And that was enough to kind of break the ice, essentially. And we you know, we got along real well. We had fun and you know, we we just, I don't know we've always kind of gotten

William Huffman  48:58  
along. What was your first date?

Mark Neal  49:01  
I met her at a Buffalo Wild Wings just as a meet up place. But our first date was at this Italian restaurant in Dayton. There we go still go to all time. It's a great restaurant and called mama salvos.

Sarah Huffman  49:12  
So that was your second date. At momentous. Yeah, I

Mark Neal  49:14  
guess the first one I got I mean, it's I guess you could just Hi a meeting, you know if you could that's is that a date or just the pre? I don't know.

Sarah Huffman  49:23  
It's a date. Like you're Yeah, you're on a site. Yeah. Meet up for the first time. That is, that's a date.

Mark Neal  49:28  
I guess the first thing we really plan planned and you know, somebody, it's not like,

William Huffman  49:33  
I like bicycling. You like bicycling? Let's go beat up. No, it's like a hey, I'm on a dating website. You're on a dating website. Let's go on a date. That's what that was. Sure.

Mark Neal  49:43  
You know, I was in, in radio still. So she would listen to the show work and things like that.

Sarah Huffman  49:49  
So did she know who you were before? Yet? She didn't know that. You are a radio media star.

Mark Neal  49:54  
No. Superstar superstar she knew I mean, she knew what I did from just talking but she didn't know like I'd heard you before now.

Sarah Huffman  50:01  
Wow. All right. So and what a Tyra do at this time,

Mark Neal  50:05  
she was working at a company called cow, Kay. Oh is like the agency for like Juergens and things like that.

William Huffman  50:14  
Okay. But she does marketing and stuff like that. Yeah, yeah. All right. So you guys meet up for your first date second meetup at Buffalo Wild Wings. How to go? Oh,

Mark Neal  50:25  
well, you know, we we have a lot of things in common a lot of interests in common. And, you know, we we've always been able to just give gab and that's kind of what that was. But yeah, well,

William Huffman  50:37  
awesome. Who paid?

Mark Neal  50:40  
I don't know. I'm sure I did.

William Huffman  50:43  
You know, you don't remember? I don't I mean, I

Sarah Huffman  50:45  

Mark Neal  50:46  
I remember. I tried to I tried to save some of that storage for other things than that. But

William Huffman  50:52  
I don't remember that. Who was the 32nd? President?

Mark Neal  50:56  
I'd have to count back. I don't know, though. I can't think of that number. Well, 35th, I think, was Kennedy. No, I can't remember. Trump was 45th. So I thought Kennedy was 35th. So maybe he Truman or Eisenhower ought to look better. Yeah.

William Huffman  51:12  
See it now? Yeah, yeah, I can check. 32nd president Hey, Siri, who

Mark Neal  51:16  
was the President Truman, Eisenhower, maybe?

William Huffman  51:21  
This is this is riveting podcasting. Right here.

Sarah Huffman  51:23  
I was just gonna Google it.

Mark Neal  51:25  
But so, you know, the radio thing I haven't done in a long time. And it's one of those things where people Roosevelt, okay, so I was one off. Roosevelt was the president before Truman. Okay, what was wall? I didn't know that. So the radio thing. Business changed a lot over the years. Yeah, you know, when you first start, first of all, I said, like I said, when I started, that was infancy at best of SportsTalk. Then technology starts kicking in. So you know, you could call or you could email and I might see the email afterwards. But then social media starts coming in Twitter, things like

William Huffman  52:08  
Twitter. Yeah. But then huge impact on sports

Mark Neal  52:11  
in for good and bad. In the good, because it's a great promotional tool. I could podcast and put it out on Twitter and get extra clicks and listens and promote things a lot more easily. But people could also reach you and you know, Twitter, tough guy. And

Sarah Huffman  52:28  
was that your handle? No, I'm just saying

William Huffman  52:30  
keyboard warrior type thing. Oh, okay. You're

Mark Neal  52:32  
talking? Yeah.

William Huffman  52:34  
We keep PG 13. Here, no F bombs. Really. Try not to.

Mark Neal  52:40  
So you know that. It's one of those things where you, especially early with Twitter, you're checking it. And that's the worst thing you can do any, I would always tell. And I did a lot of talking to young people that wanted to get into this business. I've done all kinds of talks like that. I was told, don't check Twitter during your show. You have an opinion? Have it backed with whatever you're going to use to back it with. And don't let somebody sway you. And don't you know, once you start questioning yourself, you know, what, there's a great line from Game of Thrones, where he's like, you know, the being the boss. It's like you, you can you can question yourself, but once you let you know, once you start listening to other people, anybody with a mouth can question you, you once you start questioning yourself. That's when you lose control, kind of. So I couldn't help it with doing that. And then I would get so mad at these people because I was like, Hey, come up here. Here's the state. Here's 717 He's dead real come up here. Step up to me and tell me that to my face. And I'll hand you your lungs, you know, and I and it took me a lot to say that. Yeah.

Sarah Huffman  54:00  
So can I go back? So you entire went to Buffalo Wild Wings?

William Huffman  54:04  
Yeah, that you know, wants to go back to the sports and says like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Sarah Huffman  54:09  
How long have you had your dog at this point?

Mark Neal  54:13  
My dog, Trey maybe 2000. I probably had him five years.

Sarah Huffman  54:21  
Okay, so it's like Marc Neil and his dog Trey and Tyler had a dog too. So yeah, Tyra has Zoey. And so over Buffalo Wild Wings. And when did you know that Tiger was the one.

Mark Neal  54:33  
Oh, wow. I don't know. It's hard to say. It's just we've been together a while and things have gone. Well, we're happy to be together and do things and we had gotten a house in Centerville, which is a southern suburb of Dayton.

William Huffman  54:50  
I mean, you knew she was the one before you got the house together, right?

Mark Neal  54:54  
Oh, yeah. I just hadn't, you know,

William Huffman  54:57  
we hadn't gotten engaged yet. Pop the question, I think yeah, okay. Okay.

Sarah Huffman  55:01  
Did you ask her on the radio?

Mark Neal  55:03  
To hell? No. That's not what that's for. Now, I did not do that. But no, just things. I don't know, I'd never been married before. But I felt like that was that was the time and that was the person. So it was that easy.

William Huffman  55:22  
So how did you ask her?

Mark Neal  55:24  
I think I asked her, like most other people asked people, I just, we were at home. And I asked her, I bought a ring and like, hey, it wasn't anything overly elaborate. Yeah.

William Huffman  55:36  
So you want to get married? It was a little more plan now. I can't wait to retire out and ask her her version of the story. Yeah, this is gonna be great.

Mark Neal  55:46  
No, but you know, we have a lot of things in common. We have things that we are different. But that's of course, but all in all we do well, it, you know, things can go a long way when people care about each other and absolutely look past differences and have that being the most important commonality.

William Huffman  56:07  
So where did you absolutely. So where did you get married? And then what brought you to Minnesota.

Mark Neal  56:12  
We got married, actually at her sister's house at the time. They had this really cool house with a it was like a two story house. But the living room was two storeys tall. And they had this really cool staircase going up. And we got married at the landing my brother in law, her sister's husband actually married us. It was on New Year's Eve. And so yeah, we got married there. They don't live in that house anymore, which was kind of cool going back there. But they don't live there anymore. And then we moved to Minnesota because she left her job at the time to come to a VEDA, which is up in Blaine. And we had we're looking at two different houses made a headquarters. Yeah, we were looking at two different houses, one in shore view and the one we live in now in Golden Valley. And we decided to live in Golden Valley.

Sarah Huffman  57:06  
Can you imagine if you had lived in Shoreview,

Mark Neal  57:09  
the house was really cool. But we had been way out in the middle of kind of nowhere. And that house is like at the end of a dead end when even like what we live on a cul de sac. It was like a dead end was the last house. Yeah, I'd have been a lot different. Because it really helped our neighborhood really helped not only with meeting will on when we were driving, we were knocking on people's doors, trying to talk to neighbors. But the fact that our neighborhood is very unique. Like everybody knows it's not like we just kind of wave at people every knows each other. And those are names and family and what they do. It's a very unique situation. Yeah, our blog, we're

Sarah Huffman  57:46  
pretty good neighbor.

William Huffman  57:47  
We're pretty, pretty blessed with Yeah, with our neighborhood. So well, radio station, 18 years, Minnesota, how did that work? What happened there?

Mark Neal  57:57  
Well, I always knew that I would be leaving that job for something of hers, because she makes infinitely more money than I did. So I knew that that would be the deciding factor unless I somehow found something that was a much greater financial value than I had currently. So I knew that that I would be leaving something for her job. And at the time, to be honest with you. I was fine with it. People always are like, I can't believe you would quit that job. I did it for 18 years. I mean, there are people that do all kinds of things that they wanted to do and love to do. And and it just they that run that ran its course and that had at least in that town and in that station and dealing with that people and those people in that market. It had run its course for me. So when she said hey, you know, I've got this opportunity. I was like, let's go. Wow, I was ready to leave the station. I really was hoping and thought I could do something part time here just hasn't worked out yet. I've had some opportunities, I thought and to work some other stations too, because you could do so much remotely. Now. That just never panned out. But I'm fine with it. I had a lot of fun doing that. If I got to do it again. Great if I don't, I'll actually when I go back to Dayton, I fill in for the guy that took over for me. So I'm curious. Usually, like he'll, he knows I come because I'm in town a lot. You guys know that a lot. He'll be he'll say, Hey, I'm taking this day off. Can you fill in for me? Actually, there's Cincinnati Reds do a fan fest. It's called reds fest. And every team does one. And so when I was working there, we started being the reds of radio affiliate for Dayton. And we would do my show a three hour edition of my show live from reds fest, and they would just give us players and former players and coaches be cool the owner and everybody would come one after another, you know, and for three hours. And I'm actually going to be doing this that with him this year in December when we go back, so I get to do that again. So I get to my film.

Sarah Huffman  1:00:07  
So if we wanted to hear that show, how could we hear Oh, it'll

Mark Neal  1:00:11  
be you know, you can listen to it online stations got an app, or you can listen to it on probably I heart or whatever the station. You know, I don't. I'd have to ask him again like what's you know? Yeah, what, what platform are you on nowadays? But, yeah, that is so cool. It's fun. You know, I fill in for him. Like I said, it shows three hours now. And I'm once I get down, I'm like, Okay, I'm done. You know, I've had my fun. That was the I'm worn out, you know? Yeah. So but my nephew, I got my nephew wants to do it. I do. So when he was in college, I got him a job at the radio station. So he was the program director at WWE su which is right states radio station. And he also worked part time at wi NG. And so when I would fill in for the guy that took over for me, Justin, Shay and I, my nephew would do the show together.

William Huffman  1:01:04  
Cool. That's really awesome. That's incredible.

Mark Neal  1:01:07  
And he just got his own full time job. He actually moved out there yesterday. He just graduated college station. He moved out to a station 45 minutes north east of Tulsa. So he just moved, like my brother and my sister in law drive him out there now. Like they're literally out there now. So he's starting his full time radio career.

Sarah Huffman  1:01:31  
That's great steps to follow in.

William Huffman  1:01:33  
Yeah, he does. That's awesome, man. I mean, I think we skipped a little bit in there. But that's okay, sir. I gotta ask your question about the whole Tyra and in the marriage and all that good stuff. So if you were to give anybody some advice to get into radio, in sports, or in general, do you have like a nugget for somebody?

Mark Neal  1:01:54  
Understand, it's gonna be difficult. There's not many jobs, I created my own job, really. So when I took over for the guy, that was the program director for me, he didn't he wasn't even on air. So when I came in there, there really wasn't a full time on airs show. Like I said, I wanted to create something. So I created a show for myself, like a lot of people, especially in 2022, aren't going to be able to just create something, create their own job. And now there's so much more competition, I didn't have a whole lot of competition at the beginning, because there wasn't anything to compete over.

Sarah Huffman  1:02:27  
So because now competition could be like podcasts or radio, so

Mark Neal  1:02:31  
just any gay who that thinks they're me that's never been on the air that thinks you can host a radio show. I was the only me I was the only gay who that, you know, created his own show or had the opportunity of the platform. So understand it can be very difficult. Yeah. It's not going to be very financially impressive early on. And you may never get to do it. And you might not be anywhere near good enough. It's a very difficult. It's, it's still no, it's very difficult to be entertaining every day. It is yeah, it's very difficult to get people to listen to you. Every day. i Oh,

William Huffman  1:03:08  
I have a question. Sorry. What? I'm not sorry. So as the program director, this makes sense. Like you had to make those tough decisions and say, Hey, you're not good enough. I'm sorry. Or this is a horrible idea. This is a great idea. So you probably saw a lot of people. And we're like,

Mark Neal  1:03:27  
Well, I didn't necessarily have that. Because there was no one else that worked at the store. I was the only full time employee at that station. So there were salespeople that worked for all the stations. Okay, but I was the only full time person at that at that station. Okay, so I didn't have anybody doing other shows on the station, that I would be like, I don't know if this is working out or going to hire somebody. I did all the shows.

William Huffman  1:03:49  
So it would have been awkward. If you'd be like, You know what, you're not good enough. One employee. That's me. Thank you. It's,

Mark Neal  1:03:54  
I mean, that's, that's the kind of business it is like. You can know all the sports you can you can spit out all the stuff. If you don't know how to put it out there and verbalize it. And if you're not entertaining, whether that be funny enough or intelligent enough. People are just going to be like, next. Yeah. Oh, yeah, they'll

William Huffman  1:04:14  
tune you out real quick.

Mark Neal  1:04:15  
Now won't work out. So you just got to understand that, you know, you could see it could look like it smell like It tastes like it but you might not be it.

William Huffman  1:04:24  
Wow. That's an that's some hard advice. But it's true. So thank you for sharing that. It's burp Excuse me. Shocking. Is there anything you want to wrap up with? This was awesome. Yeah. It was so cool.

Sarah Huffman  1:04:35  
And it's one thing to know that Mark Neil was in radio, but to actually share the story some of the journey of how,

Mark Neal  1:04:42  
you know, I got to do so many cool things. I you know, I was the guest color. The date and dragons are the single 18 for the Cincinnati Reds and they're in town. And I know that we were we were some of their games for years and the president of the team and I really got along well, and he thought I was funny on the air. So I got to do Phil in work. So I got to call professional baseball games on the side doing that kind of thing. Just I got to dip my toes into a lot of things. That's, you know, one of my proudest things that happened was, you know, I got put in my High School's Hall of Fame, you know, they thought of me enough to recognize me, as you know, an alumni that's worthy of going into that is really cool. The high school hall of fame and I got a plaque in my basement and I got a plaque at the school. It was right next to the janitor's closet. I joked with him, I said, at least I know it will be clean.

Sarah Huffman  1:05:39  
Yeah. Neil likes to tidy house. You do? Yeah.

Mark Neal  1:05:43  
So I but now they're building a new school. So I don't know where they'll put me now. Well, they

William Huffman  1:05:47  
better move it right next to the janitor closet.

Mark Neal  1:05:51  
So I got to do a lot of really cool things. I kind of burned myself out because I was the only guy so that teen years that expedited, you know me being okay with leaving. And, you know, marriage is a team and she was ready to you know, she supported me it's time for me to reciprocate and so I didn't and you know, now she's doing great things and she's you know, moved all the way up to you know, C suite type level and

William Huffman  1:06:20  
yeah, she's tired to tears amazing. Yeah, I mean, you're both amazing like we absolutely love having you as friends. Well, thank you and love having you as neighbors. And quarantine or corn Yeah, quarantine crew and I mean, we survived COVID together and

Mark Neal  1:06:34  
now I can focus instead of radio and sports. I can focus on making sausage. Yes. Focus on my gardening. Yeah. Your Yard. All our yard work and now is my favorite calls me the chief household officer on the show that yeah, that was our agreement. I said you work you make the money and I'll do everything else. So she goes downstairs she works and after work. I don't expect her to do anything come up sit on the couch. I do all the cooking the cleaning all the shopping all the errand running.

William Huffman  1:07:04  
I mean, you use you still work a solid 40 hour a week. I know I You're always doing something. It's you're not just I mean, just lots to do. Yeah, like an old Al Bundy thing sitting on the couch eating peppermint balm. But I'm not a sitter?

Mark Neal  1:07:18  
No. Probably only on Saturdays as well, Saturdays, culturable, Saturdays kind of fall Saturdays are off limits. And that's tiring knows that there's, you know, don't even schedule anything. For me.

Sarah Huffman  1:07:31  
No apple picking on Saturday. That's the Sunday. That is

Mark Neal  1:07:34  
the Sunday. No, but there's just there's always lots to do. You know, and we have a lot of plans for the house. And so I'm in charge and a lot of that, you know, we just got all that irrigation put in and that was 10 months, you know of scheduling for different businesses to come out. All kinds of little hiccups along the way, you know, cable company kind of what that got my cable cut by the irrigation people and then the cable people cut my irrigation when they were putting the cable back. No, they didn't. Yeah. So they were so yeah, so they cut theirs and then they cut theirs. So I handle all that gladly, you know, I you know, but I do all that stuff, which I enjoy that role. I find fulfillment in that role. And it also we love to go back we ever stole our house in Ohio. And so we go back a lot and if two of us are trying to find time off from a job, it'd be difficult. Yeah, it would be so it's one thing she can do her job from the house and maybe I could find something that I could do from that house as well. But if I were to have a regular job that required me to go into an office of some sort of some description getting off work as often as we go back and being gone as

Unknown Speaker  1:08:51  
long as we go yeah,

Mark Neal  1:08:53  
it's tough. Okay,

Sarah Huffman  1:08:54  
my last question when you said that you knocked on neighbors doors when you were house hunting. Yes. What was your impression of will

Mark Neal  1:09:03  
I immediately tire was like this is where he okay so you were smoking something and I'm not talking about drugs you were smoking something that had parents so pork or something and so we go in

Sarah Huffman  1:09:17  
basically the green egg was

Mark Neal  1:09:19  
the only no if you had that yeah,

William Huffman  1:09:20  
no I had the egg of the trigger one of the to not have the trigger anymore, but no, I had the egg Yeah,

Mark Neal  1:09:24  
yeah, it was the eggs you didn't have the trigger. I don't think at the trigger yet. And we went in you had a lot of bourbon. And so one way to my heart is meat and bourbon. As you know, I'm a big urban fat salutely Yeah. So we were like this is good. And you know we knocked on a couple of doors we had I'll tell you off air one of the other neighbors the kid answered the door and the moms like Who is it tell him we don't want any

Sarah Huffman  1:09:49  
must have been Fuller. No.

Mark Neal  1:09:50  
closer to my house. Yeah. And but actually wills you I think the one we actually talked to because we want to get to him when Just turn around. We're like, Oh, this is fun, because we didn't get any of that kind of vibe at the house in Shoreview. So we were like I think this is better. Tyra love the house too. And there's a lot of what's the word? A lot of potential for that house upside. Yeah, because there's a lot that had been done but the lot left to be done to it and we can kind of make it our own. Whether it be the landscaping, the all the, you know, the work we did on the interior with the closets and all that good thing. Yeah, all the stuff that we were able to do to that place, even though as complete as it was, it was a lot more to be completed. So we were like this, this works, you know, and we're happy with it. Certainly.

William Huffman  1:10:39  
Very cool.

Sarah Huffman  1:10:40  
Well, I'm glad you're home that day.

William Huffman  1:10:41  
I literally I don't. Yes, so my

Sarah Huffman  1:10:46  
salmon Emily also knocked on the door and will was home.

William Huffman  1:10:50  
Salmon, Emily's parents. Oh, okay. And Will's never home. I know. Like, seriously, the universe was like, listen, these people need to be your homies. And we love Sam and Emily too. Alright, so we wrap up every podcast by asking what are your top five favorite restaurants? I know this is gonna be tough for you. But here's the thing this is this will be maybe a saving grace for you can be anywhere you want. And it can be for the soldier reasons. We had one gentleman say all of garden because he went there with his mother all the time. So he's like, it's not like oh, it's the best food. He has really enjoyed, but certainly not that. Yeah. So okay, let's go with number five.

Mark Neal  1:11:29  
Well, I don't know if I can put them in any order. I might. I told you favourites are tough for me. Yeah. And okay, there's a deli in Cleveland called slimes deli and they're like, like a deli like Cantor's in New York where they got the, the sandwiches or, you know, half a foot tall with tellin ya kinda same kind. Okay. Yep. So they have the corned beef sandwich that's as big as your head kind of thing. Man. Every time we go to Cleveland, I had to go to slime ants. For sure. Baba salvos and Dayton. Great Italian food now.

William Huffman  1:12:05  
Whoa. Are we moving on to number four, then? Yeah, that's number four. Number four.

Mark Neal  1:12:09  
And like I said, this is in no particular order. This will hold that to you. This is another one. Love mama salvos. It's an obviously an Italian family that's been around forever. The kids do it. They took over for the mom. You know, I'm not Italian or nor have I ever lived in Italy. So on how authentic Italian it is. But I like it. Another place that's near and dear to my heart. Number three, number three, Don Pablos, which actually, I worked at Don Pablos for years. Yeah. And I learned a lot about cooking from the kitchen staff there. We had a lot of Latino, kitchen folk that work there. And they really taught me a lot about authentic, how they ate, I shoot for the lack of a better way to say it. Yeah, this is how you guys eat our food. We eat our food. Yeah. And it was really interesting to learn from them at the preparation. I love to make Mexican food. I also love to make Italian food. Well, my version of both. And I learned a lot from both of them on how to do that kind of stuff. So and plus I worked there for so long and eat the food so much.

Sarah Huffman  1:13:14  
So I can make a fantastic Margarita.

Mark Neal  1:13:17  
And I learned how to make a great Margarita. They're the authentic and we call it the real Margarita.

William Huffman  1:13:22  
Yeah, I mean, you're doing the lime juice, all that stuff.

Sarah Huffman  1:13:24  
They had this secret ingredient. I'll leave it at that. Yeah,

William Huffman  1:13:27  
yeah, we know it is.

Mark Neal  1:13:28  
So it's really good. Now the irony is is that I don't like margaritas. Because I worked a lot of lunch shifts and you're making batches of their house margaritas. So it's 11 o'clock in the morning and you're over a bucket of Yeah, I I make them I don't drink them.

William Huffman  1:13:47  
Love it. Number two.

Mark Neal  1:13:49  
Oh boy. Someplace fish fish. Like there's a place in Dayton called JC food. There's also a place in Columbus called Columbus fish market. I love great fish places. Places I can get something fresh and good now, Middle America isn't necessarily it. I'd probably rather go to someplace on the coast. Someplace a little bit closer to water. But those are awfully good. Really enjoy both of those places.

William Huffman  1:14:21  
All right. And number one

Mark Neal  1:14:24  
number one play and I used to say restaurants or places to eat.

William Huffman  1:14:31  
Place the, I guess will say places to eat,

Mark Neal  1:14:35  
then it's not. I'm not gonna say it's number one, but it's my top five at home. I love to cook. I love that because I'm I'm kind of a particular eater. I like to cook. So I would say eating and my own prepared food is what we would be next. I mean tonight. For example, we're using our homemade kielbasa. I have yeah we have homemade perot he's right I'm gonna be eating with Mike said I said kielbasa homemade potato and onion and all that cheese perot he's with our homemade kielbasa that's that's good that's

Sarah Huffman  1:15:15  
I have to agree with you because it is hard to really say a restaurant is my favorite after I've eaten on our street because we you have specialties fuller has specialties will have specialty. Yes like it's we all kind of carry Yeah, yeah don't need to necessarily leave the street to have amazing food

Mark Neal  1:15:35  
and cooking to me I've always enjoyed it. I've always found it interesting that people some people just have no idea it's like you do this three times a day. You don't have to cook I think that should be something that should be much more stressed in school like I in my high in high school. I took foods one foods to and advanced foods and I was the the prize bowl if you will of Mrs. Google's advanced foods class. Oh, like I was her favorite student of all time. Probably. She loved me to death and her advanced foods class. And I just think that that should be something that you don't need to go to the extent that we do, necessarily. But maybe you'll get there on your own because you start off being able to make your own breakfast. Yeah. I don't I just think it's shocking to me that people have such a paucity of knowledge when it comes to feeding yourself. Yeah.

William Huffman  1:16:35  
Excellent. All right. Well, I thank you very much for coming out. Appreciate it. And as always, we out deuces