Mark Seward Graham, who was co-owner of Westport’s WMMM AM for several years and spent more than 25-plus years in the broadcast business, working on air in major markets and throughout Connecticut, has died suddenly in Fairfield County. He was 64.
Mark Graham: broadcaster. Contributed photo
Graham, a Fairfield resident, was multi talented as a broadcaster, entertainer, moderator and business owner along the way.
His public speaking background goes back to his early days in grade school, and at Suffield Academy (1972-1975). Mark’s desire to work in radio was fostered by Suffield’s own on-campus AM radio station, WSAR AM, where he had a weekly air shift, and ultimately became program director and station manager.
He also cut his teeth for the broadcast business by interning during the summer at Westport’s WMMM AM and WDJF FM, which is now WEBE FM, in Bridgeport.
Later, Graham attended the University of Missouri-Columbia (1975-1979), where he majored in speech and dramatic arts, as well as journalism, and gained valuable experience working on air at the University’s National Public Radio station, KBIA FM as an announcer and news reader.
During summer vacations during college, he also worked in the display advertising department for The Norwalk Hour newspaper in Norwalk (1977-1979)
After graduation, Graham went to work for 18-time Grammy Award winner (category: Polka) Jimmy Sturr’s radio station, WTBQ AM, in Warwick, New York (1979-1981), working and gaining valuable experience in all facets of the broadcast operations, including announcing, news and sports reporting, as well as sales.
He then went on to WMMW AM, Meriden, Connecticut (1981-1982), as afternoon drive-time announcer. He was also the featured emcee for the 1982 Miss Meriden Beauty Pageant. Later that year, Mark was hired as news/ sports reporter and anchor for WSTC AM and WJAZ (formerly WYRS) FM, in Stamford (1982-1987).
The role that Graham was most fond of was as co-owner/operator of WMMM AM, Westport (1987-1997), where he performed a multitude of tasks including all facets of on air work and sales production, as well as general manager.
As a programmer, he also helped generate sales by offering brokered time to on air clients, including Shop and Save Radio, Radio Verdad Christiana Spanish broadcasting, Greek programming by Nellie Souvalido, New Haven Ravens baseball, Fairfield University football, Sacred Heart University basketball, and Family Fiesta Italian programming, featuring Peter D’Amico.
During his years at Westport’s local radio, Graham also worked with such names as longtime CBS radio executive Bob VanDerheyden, nine-time Grammy Award winner Jose Feliciano (1990-1992) for the nationally acclaimed “Speaking Music” show, local Realtor and former drummer for the Alice Cooper band, Neil Smith, nationally recognized and current Sirius satellite radio DJ Leslie Gold, the “Radio Chick” (Leslie got her start at WMMM), CBS Sports’s Jim Nantz, and former Italian House Party host John LaBarca, as well as a myriad other local dignitaries and celebrities.
Graham also spent a part of 1988 in St. Louis, where it had been his strong desire to be able to broadcast from KMOX AM. He was asked by General Manager Bob Hyland to join the CBS owned radio station that can be heard in 44 states and all of Canada, to come to St. Louis as overnight news anchor, a position he gladly accepted.
Absolutely, the best part of his Westport radio days was Mark meeting his future bride, and love of his life, Angela, while broadcasting from the annual Italian Festival, in Saugatuck’s Luciano Park. They were married in 1990.
WMMM AM 1260 became a long lost memory in 1997 when the station was donated to WSHU Radio, based at Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield.
After the station closed, the Graham family embarked in to the world of nonprofit charitable endeavors by starting the Graham Foundation of Connecticut, Inc., an IRS approved 501c3 corporation that assists other qualified charities in Fairfield County, Connecticut, that focus on the arts, education, physically challenged and sports causes.
During his career, Graham offered his services to many charitable and community organizations, serving on the board of directors for many organizations, including the Fairfield, Rotary Club, the Westport Country Playhouse, and the Westport-Weston YMCA, as well as the American Cancer Society of New England, Norwalk.
He was also a longtime member of the Fairfield County Hunt Club, Westport, and the Coral Beach & Tennis Club, Bermuda, and the New York Friars Club.
Graham was also co-owner of “Red” Graham’s Minuteman Travel, in Westport, a 50-year old travel agency started by his grandfather, Robert A. Graham, Sr. in 1951.
He is survived by his wife Angela, and son Harrison, who is a recent graduate of New York University, both of Fairfield as well as numerous cousins in New York and Missouri. He was predeceased by his parents, Margaret (Peggy) P. & Robert A. “Red” Graham.
Funeral services will be announced at a later date.
The Harding Funeral Home in Westport is handling the arrangements. To leave an on line condolence please visit http://www.harding funeral.com.