Mark Dannels was born December 6, 1978 in Richmond Virginia but was raised in a suburb of Indianapolis before moving to Chicago in 2002 to peruse a career in radio broadcasting. He attended Illinois Center for Broadcasting and studied both radio and television. His radio career began with an internship at 97.9 The Loop, Chicago’s classic rock radio station, before landing a production Internship with “The Kevin Matthews Show” on Chicago’s 105.9 WCKG. Mark bartended in the evenings and was hired as a weekend board-op on Chicago’s pop country channel US99.5 WUSN. During this time, he was working 7 days a week to make ends meet while having to sleep in the conference room of the radio station some days between shifts. Eventually those internships lead to on-air gigs at each station.
Known to radio listners as “Mark D.”, Mark hosted a Saturday rock show on WCKG as well as co-hosted a Saturday afternoon comedy talk show “The Frankie Show”. He would also occasionally fill in to produce and bord-op the “Howard Stern Show” Chicago broadcast and even once filled in for the legendary Steve Dahl, hosting a New Year’s Day rock show during Steve’s normal show slot. “Mark D.” could also be heard hosting weekend overnights and fill-in on US99.5. Eventually, despite being the top rated show on 2 Saturdays in Chicago, “The Frankie Show” was canceled to make way for new programing hosted by a Chicago media icon that failed to live up to its hype.
Following this decision, Mark left WCKG and increased his roll at WUSN. At the time, US99.5 (WUSN) was the top-rated pop country station in America and the number 4 rated station in Chicago over all. And despite a seething hatred for the genre, (that he kept well-hidden while on-air) “Mark D” remained on-air at US99.5 part time for the next ten years, ultimately leaving to take on the full time General Manager position at the Chicago hard rock bar and music venue, Cobra Lounge.
Cobra Lounge, was the creation of Chicago business mogul and “Riot Fest” owner Sean McKeough. It consisted of a Heavy metal theme bar and restaurant with a 300-capacity music venue in the back room, that hosted primarily heavy metal, punk and hardcore acts. Prior to managing Cobra Lounge, Mark worked for several other Chicago venues and festivals, including the Congress Theatre, City Winery, Riot Fest, as Stage Manager for Motoblot (Chicago’s largest Motorcycle Rally) as well as free-lanced for several others.
Currently, Mark is living in Louisville KY, after moving there in 2016 to become engaged to his fiancé, Natalie. He accepted a job offer from Live Nation that came with the move and worked as House Manager for The Louisville Palace Theatre and The Mercury Ballroom. He recently leftLive Nation and now works as Head of Security at Louisville’s legendary Headliner’s Music Hall.