Mark Daniels, the veteran radio morning host and WALK/97.5 FM fixture, has been dropped by the station, ending one of the longest on-air tenures in Long Island radio history.
Daniels, 63, confirmed in an interview Monday that his last day at the Farmingdale-based station was Nov. 15. "It's been a lot of fun but the business is the business," he said, "I sadly certainly wasn't prepared for it."
Daniels was the rarest of the rare: A radio host who endures, year after year, then decade after decade, on the same radio station, and one that has undergone various ownership changes in a rapidly consolidating industry. (Westport, Connecticut-based Connoisseur Media owns WALK.)
He joined WALK in 1985, and a few years later became a morning co-host, and there he has remained. In fact, WALK — which is currently in the midst of its annual continuous holiday music playlist — is known for host longevity. Cindy Clifford, Daniels' former on-air partner, had been there 16 years before leaving a few years ago. Bob Klein ("Klein Till 9 and Again Till 10"), who died in 2017, spent decades at WALK beginning in the 1980s.
In a phone interview Tuesday, James Condron, the station's senior vice president, called Daniels "a valuable friend and at this point almost like family — I've been at the station 20 years, myself — but it's a living, breathing thing and we have to evolve and change, and make the station as relevant as it's been for over five decades. Mark has certainly contributed to the heritage."
Condron said the station will launch a new morning show Jan. 1, although the station format ("Hot Adult Contemporary" or "the '90s, 2K and today" as the station describes itself) will remain intact. Jamie Morris, co-host of "Mark and Jamie Mornings," who joined the station in 2016, will be part of the new program, he added.
Daniels — a father of three who lives in East Setauket — said he was told "ratings were not the issue. I think it had to do with internal plans. We are competitive with the other leading stations on Long Island but we weren't as gangbusters as we used to be.
"But it's a business and I have to respect that and look at the years I spent there and the incredible response we had from listeners, which was always overwhelming to me. It was a two-way street over the years."
Daniels said, "I'm trying to adjust, and not getting up at 2:45 a.m., I can tell you — it's not too bad, if there's one positive. I've reached out to a lot of people and they couldn't be kinder and more supportive. To continue in radio is my first priority — it is who I am — but I've talked to other people and they've suggested maybe it's time to reinvent myself. I am starting to come around the other side, and there is life after this. It'll be tough to measure up [to] the time I had on WALK. I looked forward to every day, to being behind a mic. It was like a playdate.
"But at this point, no ill feelings. To spend time in that zone is just not productive. I'm moving forward."