The legendary radio jock talks retirement

The legendary radio jock talks retirement

That voice-if you shake any radio in the city, Mark Wagner's resonant baritone may just come spilling out, like it was waiting years to escape. Daddy Wags, as he's better known, was the timeless cornerstone of QFM's morning show, a constant feature of the work commute for thousands upon thousands of Columbus residents.

These days he's retired and still lives in Westerville, keeping busy "smack in the middle of four generations of Wagners." His son Max recently bestowed him with a grandson, whom he babysits often. He runs errands with his 88-year-old mother and takes his 93-year-old father-who competed in the National Senior Games until a couple years ago-to the gym three times a week. He still does commercial voiceover work, currently recording spots for Roush.

He's just as passionate as ever about radio, and often listens to his old partner Jerry Elliott on QFM. He traces his obsession all the way back to his youth. He was once laid up with a foot injury on his parents' porch in Linden for a week, spending night after night with a Zenith seven-band radio as his only entertainment. He was hooked.

"The voice coming out of the box in the dark-it grabbed me and it still holds me," Wagner said.

He worked for a student-run Ohio State radio station and then with WWWJ in Johnstown before landing his dream job with QFM in 1979. For the next 33 years, he entertained listeners with that voice, alongside co-hosts like Elliott, Pat Still and John Fischer. In 2012, he told his bosses he wouldn't renew his contract when it expired, but he suffered a heart attack before that came to pass-his heart gave out before his legal obligation, he said.

Looking back on his long career, Wagner admits it wasn't all fun-"It's not all tulips and daisies; it's work"-but the worst days in radio were still better than most days of anything else. He's especially thankful to have worked in what he considers radio's golden age, that period in the late '70s and early '80s when it was local, live and creative. He loved it, and it's apparent when he speaks. His voice says it all.