Reporter returns to WKSU as new programming director

Kiera Manion-Fischer

Mark Urycki, WKSU’s programming director, recently returned to the station after a year-and-a-half absence. TRACY TUCHOLSKI | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Polka music and Croatian tambura music.

That’s what Mark Urycki, award-winning reporter and anchor for WKSU 89.7 FM, wants to add to the station’s musical repertoire as director of programming and operations.

Actually, he was kidding.

“My only plan is to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Continuing to improve the quality.”

Urycki recently returned to the radio station after a year-and-a-half absence of a year and a half. He stayed in public radio during his time away, covering business and politics for WCPN 90.3 FM and PBS Channel 25 in Cleveland.

He said people get a little nervous when a new director comes along.

Urycki said he’d been interested in programming issues for a couple years and came back when the job at WKSU opened. He said the programming director is “the person that oversees everything that you hear on the radio.”

Urycki is now in charge of programming for the news, folk music and classical music departments.

“I want to ensure that there’s high quality in those different areas,” he said.

He said he’s coming in at a difficult time because the news director and the morning news anchor just left, and those positions need to be filled. He’s been filling in somewhat on-air.

Urycki started out studying radio and hosting alternative rock shows for WKSU while in college.

He said his first interest was in music and he hoped to get a job as a disc jockey, but found news to be more “rewarding and important.”

Urycki started working for WKSU in 1984 and stayed for 20 years. He’s covered such varied topics as presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winners, national conventions, history, arts and culture.

Urycki said Nobel Peace Prize winners are more remarkable than presidents.

He’s also done some human interest or “slice-of-life” stories.

“We try not to do the same stories that everybody else is doing,” he said.

For example, Urycki produced a half-hour documentary about May 4, 1970 for the 20th anniversary of the shootings, and extended it to an hour for the 30th anniversary.

The documentary had no narration – Urycki interviewed people who were there and used archived audio footage to tell the story.

He wanted to “get a better sense of what it was like in the town that day.”

Contact principal reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].