It was chance that Mix 94.1’s Mercedes Martinez ended up on the radio. As a student at the University of Colorado, Martinez needed an internship credit, and rather than stay in her field of study, pharmacy, she decided to venture into something she thought would be fun, radio. Martinez stayed on the air and now finds herself on one of the top morning radio shows in the country with her on-air counterpart of almost 14 years, Mark Diciero, and their ever-present producer, J.C. Fernandez. Mark and Mercedes in the Morning consistently earns the top rating spot in the city, and Martinez has become one of the top women in media in Las Vegas.
You don’t have a face for radio. What got you into this business?
It’s hard to answer that. I got into it kind of as a fluke. I never expected to do radio. I loved radio and I went into it as something to pass the time and get college credit for. Once I was in it I realized how much fun it was. You know how they always say, “Find a job and it doesn’t feel like work”? It’s never felt like work, yet people paid me for it, so it was fantastic.
Would you call radio your passion?
It is now. Looking back, I think I always had the passion for it because I was the kid that would sit by her radio with the notepad at the end of the year when they’d do the top 100 songs of the year I would write every song down. I have always been passionate about music and radio, but I never thought of it as a career. I thought a career had to be a 9-to-5 job. I didn’t realize it could be a 3:30 a.m.-to-11:30 a.m. job. It’s fantastic.
Which is more difficult, your radio marriage or your real marriage?
That’s funny because it is a marriage; that’s exactly what it is. It’s not hard when you work with someone that you genuinely like. We all know that we’re going to have disagreements and arguments with our co-workers, but at the end of the day the guy has been there for me when I’ve needed him and I think I’ve been there for him, and so, yes, we’re radio married but we’re also radio best friends. To answer that question, I think they’ve both been equally challenging but equally rewarding.
Do you ever get recognized in public?
I do get recognized every once in a while and it always cracks me up because I don’t expect it, so when people approach me I think I’m overly enthusiastic. You recognize me? Ah! I want to be, like, their best friend, I’ll hug them and they’ll be, like, “Whoa, I was just saying ‘Hi, I like your show.’” I get a little overly excited about it. I do get recognized [by] my laugh. I’ve noticed if I laugh in public, people will look at me like, “I know you. What do I know you from?”
Is being on the radio in Las Vegas different than other cities?
Las Vegas is different because it’s that 24-hour town, but it’s also becoming a very well-respected market. Before it was always New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but now it is so high-profile. It truly is the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” We have access to so many celebrities that come here for play, and they’re like, OK, let’s talk to Mark and Mercedes because we’re here. It’s really been a great market to broadcast in.
Can you dish on any interviews that haven’t gone so well?
Avril Lavigne has always been a thorn in my side. I’m sure she’s perfectly nice and maybe we’ve just caught her on bad days all three times we’ve tried to interview her. I kind of feel like if you’re going to do an interview, you should at least act like you want to be there. I felt like we were really disturbing her. That has always been difficult. We had the opportunity to interview her recently and I just said, “You know what? We should take a pass on this one.”
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you on-air?
Recently we were talking on air and Pauly Shore just came into our studio, which was kind of a shock. You’re never prepared for those ambush interviews, but it was fun and we made it work. Recently was this bet we had with Mayor Oscar Goodman where we had to dress up like [the cast of] Jersey Shore. Radio being such an audio medium, it’s kind of fun to put the visual along with it, too.