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‘Mark & Danny’ join for some on-air gab

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Your radio friends are back together, and this time they're doing a talk format.

After almost five years as music DJs "Mark" and "Danny," one of Utah's veteran radio teams has returned as "Mark & Danny," 3-6 p.m. weekdays on KDYL (AM-1280).

Starting last week, the radio hosts, Mark Van Wagoner and Danny Kramer — with 59 years of combined radio experience — reunited when the station switched from nostalgic music to an all-talk format.

"We have a philosophy that radio should be your friend and not your sparring partner," Van Wagoner said.

Kramer agrees. "We have to be good in front of our mommies," he joked, since both their mothers listen to the show.

"You won't be ashamed by us," Kramer added.

Their new show has a magazine style and includes the latest news, traffic, weather and sports. Listener calls are accepted each hour.

The station's studios are at Trolley Corners now.

Because KDYL's old format used to air 1960s non-denominational sermonettes of the late Richard L. Evans — the voice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcasts for 40 years — the DJs said they're hoping to eventually include those vintage programs as part of their regular daily routine.

The left-handed Van Wagoner sits down as he runs the control board and does the news. Kramer stands or sits and handles the sports and weather.

As the two veterans prepared to do their first show on June 27, they confessed to being nervous because of the new equipment they had to operate — not for any lack of smooth-talking talent.

Van Wagoner is also a little surprised by the new program. "I've never done an afternoon show," he said. Shortly after he said that, he slipped up and said "good morning" to his audience.

Kramer said afternoons are good, as you don't have to get up at 6 a.m. or earlier.

Both have been at KDYL since 1992. First, they teamed up to do a morning show — though music, not talk, was the focus. A few years later, they were separated for solo shows, with Van Wagoner staying in the morning and Kramer moving to afternoons.

Van Wagoner started his radio career in Hilo, Hawaii, in 1969. He came to Utah's KRSP in October of 1971, and by 1976, he was creating his trademark as "Mark in the Morning" on KSL. He left KSL in May of 1988 and moved to KMGR ("Magic 107"). There, he had a brief teamup with one of Utah's most outrageous radio hosts, Clyde Lewis. In addition, Van Wagoner had a Ch. 14 TV talk show for awhile in the early '90s and added Kramer as his co-host.

Kramer began his radio career in Savannah, Ga., in the late 1960s. He also worked for Armed Forces Radio before landing a job at KSL in 1972. He left AM-1160 when KALL made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Eventually, Kramer worked at KQOL, KZOL and KTKK before taking a job at Simmons Radio Group on KDYL.

As far as on-air Utah radio longevity goes, Van Wagoner ranks fifth in the Salt Lake market and Kramer is sixth. (See "Radio Dial" column on page C4.

WHY DID KDYL CHANGE FORMATS? G. Craig Hanson, president of the Simmons Radio Group, said it was purely a business decision. Radio stations must make money, and despite a nearly 14-year run to get nostalgic music to pay off, it just didn't.

He said advertisers won't support the age 50-plus audience well enough, despite that demographic segment's high income and leisure-time availability.

"We have made a decision after great research," Hanson said, explaining that Simmons Radio Group owns talk stations in other markets.

He said the company has been considering the change for some time, implying that the recent demise of AM-570 as a talk-news station itself had little to do with the change.

Eyebrows have also been raised over KDYL airing Don Imus weekdays from 6-10 a.m. The radio host is almost another Howard Stern. Hanson said the company signed up for network shows and has to take the good with the bad.

The G-rated nature of the "Mark & Danny" show strangely counterbalances Imus' sometimes R-rated content. Other KDYL syndicated shows fall somewhere in between.

After Imus, KDYL's weekday programming is Dr. Joy Browne (10 a.m.-1 p.m.); Michael Savage (1-3 p.m.); "Mark & Danny" (3-6 p.m.); Michael Medved (6-8 p.m.); and Roger Fredinburg (8-11 p.m.).

E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com