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WKSU Profile: Mark Arehart

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No one at WKSU knows more about the arts and culture scene than Arts Reporter Mark Arehart.  From local art museums to movies to dog mushing, Mark sits down and answers the questions on everyone’s minds.

You’ve been all around the country.  What brought you to WKSU?

Arts and culture jobs at public radio stations are very few and far between, and usually they are at bigger stations on the coast like in Los Angeles, New York and Boston.  But I am a midwesterner by birth and I missed being land-locked. So when WKSU posted a job for an arts and culture reporter in Northeast Ohio I jumped at it. It was the perfect job for me.

Where in Ohio should people go to check out the art scene?

You can go almost anywhere in Northeast Ohio.  Akron has a vibrant do-it-yourself art scene. The Akron Art Museum is really cool.  They’ve got a really nice modern collection, but the thing that people forget about is its heritage collection.  They have a really beautiful collection of Ohio-centric artists. If you go down to Canton, the Canton Museum of Art has some treasures there, and of course you have the Cleveland Museum of Art, which is voted the number two art museum in the country.

You love reading crime fiction and fantasy stories.  What’s your favorite series?

My favorite crime series is the Harry Hole novels by Joe Nesbø.  He’s a Norwegian crime author.  Harry Hole is one of my favorite characters.  Even being translated from Norwegian, it is just beautiful, poetic writing about murder, drugs and crime.  I love series where you can watch character arcs develop.

You have a dog named Otis.  What kind of dog is he?

Otis is a sled dog.  My first job out of college was in farwestern Alaska and there is a huge dog mushing culture.  My roommate was a dog musher and had a litter of puppies and that is where I got Otis.

What is your favorite part about being a reporter for WKSU?

My favorite part about being a reporter is being able to do interesting things and recording them.  Last year I rode Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point and was mic'd up. Right now I’m doing a story on E-Mountain Bikes and I’ve mic’d myself up and probably mountain biked about 25 or 30 miles in the last two weeks just trying to talk to people on the trail.

What are some of your favorite works of art?

I was a film major in college before switching to journalism with a film minor, so I’d say my favorite works of art are probably films.  There is a movie out of Hong Kong that came out in 2000 called In the Mood for Love. I often go back to another movie, this one by David Lean, called Brief Encounter.  In terms of visual art I really like Mattisse. In the Cleveland Museum of Art there’s a work of his of a woman sitting at a table with fruit next to her. I kind of think of that as my painting and whenever I do an interview there I always go and sit and hang out with her for a while.

Outside of Kent, where is your favorite place you have lived?

Seattle.  I love the weather.  People think that Seattle is super rainy, and it is, but from about late May or early June until August it’s the best place.  There’s no rain, 70 to 75 degrees, not too hot and it’s some of the most beautiful summer weather I’ve ever encountered.

If you could trade places with one radio or television personality for a day, who would it be?

It would probably be Joshua Johnson.  He’s the host of 1A at WAMU in D.C. I would do a horrible job of it because he’s a great professional.  I think that he has some of the most engaging segments in all of radio and I would love to guest host some day.

What is one thing listeners would be shocked to hear about you?

My favorite movie of all time is a 1997 film called Face/Off starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage where they literally swap faces.  It’s an action movie and everyone says it’s terrible. I can’t tell you why but that is my favorite film of all time.

What’s the craziest story you’ve ever covered?

Part of my job at KYUK in Bethel, Alaska was to cover the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race.  It is a mid-distance race of 300 miles. I was a trail reporter and I would report all night for two to three days, and then every hour I would call in and do live check-ins.  But the way sled dog races are is that they are so spread out, so I would sleep for about 15 minutes and then go out and do a couple interviews, sleep another 15 minutes and call in to the station.  In order to get there I had to ride a snowmobile, and the first time I did it there was a blizzard. It was pretty intense.