Mark Papousek: Making A Difference
Who would have thought that a little tyke growing up in Terrace Bay on the North shore of Lake Superior and then Renfrew would have such a positive effect on the lives of residents in the Ottawa Valley?
“As early as I can remember, I wanted to be in radio” says Mark Papousek, the veteran announcer at Y101 Country. “I loved listening to the Beatles and was intrigued by the way they talked and sang on the radio.”
Well, that little tyke has grown and is going on 34 years of radio announcing in Ottawa. But more importantly, Papousek is still lending his name and time to bettering the lives of residents living in the Ottawa Valley.
A graduate of North Bay’s Canadore College in the Radio and Television Arts program in the early 1970’s, Mark was actually home in Renfrew working at locally owned CKOB Radio as the morning man months before his actual graduation.
Talk about being keen.
Not one to sit still, Mark heard about a job opening later in the year and he was off to Newfoundland and soon serving up rock music from Grand Falls.
One day his boss, well known personality and music man Wayne Ronstad, showed up and broke the news that the station was switching over to a country format. Mark’s reaction – “I’m not working country playing Johnny Crash and Tammy Why Not.”
Persuaded to give it a week, the rest is history.
“I fell in love with country music. Since then I don’t listen to a lot of rock music.”
Country music wasn’t the only love that Mark found in Newfoundland. Upon his arrival in St. John’s, music director Bev Cook caught his eye and after a brief flirtation by teletype (no cell phones then), Bev joined Mark in Grand Falls, later married and the couple has raised two successful sons – Scott and Stephen.
A year and a half later, the station in Grand Falls closed and Wayne Ronstad came to Mark’s rescue. He called Ted Daigle at CKBY and told him that there was a Valley boy here looking for a job. As Mark says, “After 17,000 calls in one week, Ted hired me and it’s where I’ve been every since except for a brief 17 month return to Newfoundland.”
Since the beginning of the eighties, Mark has been well known throughout Ottawa and the Valley as Mark-in-the-Morning and for the past 10 years he and co-host Nida Drake have ensured that Y101 listeners wake up in the morning to a mixture of country music, news, fun and entertainment.
When asked about her co-host Nida Drake says “Mark at times battles through fatigue, but when that microphone button goes on, he’s the consummate professional ready to go. Mark has his loyal friends and supporters who are always willing to help out any cause.”
Mark’s so-called celebrity status has opened doors for an energetic man who gives back a huge amount of time to the community he loves. “Just don’t be in awe around me,” he insists. “I’m just one of the guys.”
That may be so, but let’s give credit where credit is due.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern Ontario is the chief beneficiary of the charitable funding activities run by Mark and his team of “Y101 Boot-Scooters.” Their 20 year run of charity activities has seen hundreds of thousands of fund-raising dollars raised for many worthwhile organizations. Included in these causes are the Support Our Troops Foundation (Families of Fallen Soldiers), the Snow Suit Fund, the Serge Giroux Golf Dream and the Oncology Department at CHEO in honour of the late Brian Norton – a long time friend and supporter. Many other smaller requests are supported by the group with little recognition asked.
Charity funds are raised through various donations as well as an annual New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dance, pool tournaments, euchre games, curling bonspiels and an annual golf tournament at Pakenham Highlands Golf Course.
Speaking of golf, Mark is a big fan of the game. From the age of 11, Mark developed his passion for the sport at the Renfrew Golf Club where he hitch-hiked to on a daily basis in the summertime learning the game from Henry Egan, the then no-nonsense professional at Renfrew. Mark is also proud to have been named as an Honorary Director of the Ottawa Zone of the Canadian Professional Golf Association.
The great outdoors is where Mark can be found year-round as he is an avid fisherman and bow-hunter and he is usually in the company of Stephen – his son and best buddy. Mike Fisher and Bill Nielson are also regular hunting and fishing companions.
Mark tells the story of himself as a young boy at the age of six hooking a lake trout with a rusty red-devil, bringing it to shore, having the line snap and then grabbing the fish with his bare hands. Picture Mark riding home on his bike with the 14 pound fish balanced on his handlebars, proudly showing off his catch to his father and finding out the his father and friends had fished the same area for three days without even a nibble.
When he’s not outdoors or hosting an event at the Spencerville Fair, the Riverside Jam, the Country Music Hall of Fame ceremonies or his regular Friday Kanata Sports Club “Hot Seat” sessions, Mark can be found in the kitchen at home. He is a self proclaimed master of the art of making soup and is backed up by friends and his wife Bev who have had the pleasure of trying out his creations. He’s always up for trying out new recipes and is not above questioning chefs at local restaurants on their techniques. Apparently, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” has nothing on Mark.
So, that’s a short look into the life of one of Ottawa’s hardest working fund-raisers and sportsmen.
As his radio co-host Nida Drake says about Mark. “He’s just a common man with no pretences. He’s not into the fame thing, but he is passionate about devoting his time to raising money for charities especially the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern Ontario.” Nida should know all about her co-host as she and Mark will be celebrating their 14 year on air anniversary in January of 2011.
Little did anyone know that a boy from remote Terrace Boy could make such a difference.