Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spotlight: Sportscaster Mark Dondero

One of the most common requests I get from my local readers is the desire for more local stories. As is often the case, one doesn’t always have to look far to find what he’s seeking. Dalton has its own TV station, WDNN, and each evening WDNN telecasts its own news program. Recently I noticed Mark Dondero doing sports on WDNN and I was struck not only by how good he is at what he does but by the way he conducts himself. As my grandmother would have said, Mark is not “from around these parts.” With a decidedly northern accent, he injects his own brand of talent into the work he does. I was impressed to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Mark at WDNN and asked him for an interview. I wanted to find out what prompted him to relocate to Dalton. His bio was very interesting and so I knew he’d give a great interview. I wasn’t disappointed.

CP: Mark, thanks for chatting with me.
MD: No problem, Carey. Thanks for asking me.
CP: Where did you move here from?
MD: Boston.
CP: Where did you go to school?
MD: In Rhode Island, at Bryant University.
CP: And what brought you south?”
MD: I wanted to get into television and I saw the ad for a sportscaster on a website that advertises for openings at TV stations. So I got in touch with Calvin Means (WDNN general manager) and we had a good phone interview. One thing led to another and here I am.
CP: What about Dalton attracted you to the area?
MD: Aside from the job, I was really struck by the passion that people here have for sports and for their school teams. You don’t find that where I’m from. Dalton has different strengths. I really love it here.
CP: How long have you been here now?
MD: Just over a year.
CP: What were you doing before you came here?
MD: I was working for Toshiba, in sales. That was a good situation but it just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. So I gave myself a little time to find a good opportunity.
CP: What are your long term goals?
MD: I’d like to move up in the market and make a career of out something I’m passionate about doing.
CP: What are some of your favorite places in Dalton?
MD: I’m a big fan of Spring Lakes Golf Course and I really like Dalton Stamp and Coin. It’s the best card shop I’ve ever seen.
CP: You’re an Italian American, right?
MD: Yes, that’s right. My great grandparents come over from Italy.
CP: Who are your heroes?
MD: I would have to say my dad. I’ve always admired how he handles himself. He’s much more by the book than I am. I think more out of the box than my dad. I also am a huge fan of Ken Griffey, Jr.
CP: What are some of your hobbies?
MD: Snowboarding, going to the beach. I’m a music guy. I enjoy a wide range of music. I really just like to have fun.
CP: What movies do you consider your favorites?
MD: I’m a huge Toy Story fan. I also enjoyed The Shawshank Redemption and Jurassic Park. The Mission Impossible Series is also a favorite.
CP: Do you enjoy reading?
MD: Yes. I really like James Patterson.
CP: Having lived in Boston and now here in Georgia, what is your personal preference, long sleeves or barefoot weather?
MD: I am a summer guy, so I’d have to say the barefoot weather.
CP: What advice or wisdom do you like to pass along?
MD: I suppose it’s something I learned from my mom. Just work hard for your goals and do what you want to do.
CP: Mark, thanks again for talking with me.
MD: Thank you, Carey.

At 25, Mark Dondero is positioning himself for a successful career in television broadcasting. He is a warm, personable guy who seems very much at home in Dalton. He’s easy to talk to as well. After meeting him, I can see why the WDNN brass was keen to bring him onboard. Mark has a lot to offer and he loves what he does. It’s a very refreshing thing to find a young man who is so passionate about his job. Those of us who call Dalton home are fortunate to have such a talented transplant on our hometown news team.

Carey Parrish

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