Leading up to Easter Sunday, Mike Vasquez, connections director at Grove Church, a Christian church in Mission Valley, recalled his 34-year career as a deejay and program director for several of San Diego’s most popular radio stations.
“I loved my time working in radio, it was a lot of fun,” Vasquez told Times of San Diego. “Easter is always a busy time of year with extra work and preparation for many churches, including ours. But, working for a church doesn’t feel like work. Every day I’m saying to myself, `I can’t believe I get to do this.’ I’m living proof that God uses average, everyday people to meet real spiritual needs. It’s really amazing.”
Vasquez, 55, oversees volunteers, parking and special event logistics and contributes to the digital media ministry at Grove Church, which draws more than 600 guests at three Sunday morning services.
“Working in radio was a huge part of my life for several decades and I miss the people in the business,” said Vasquez. “But, now God has me in a new job in this season of my life. It’s exciting to encourage our volunteers about the important role they can play in somebody’s reconciliation process and help create an environment where people can experience love and hope and encounter spiritual transformation. It’s very humbling to be part of that.”
Vasquez was a church volunteer for several years before his career transition to a full-time church position, a move prompted by a layoff at his last radio job.
Since age 7, Vasquez said he wanted to be a radio deejay. His first radio job at age 19 was the Sunday night shift as board operator at KEZL-FM in Fresno. He later became the station’s program director during a 12-year stint (1986-1998) and led the station to become one of the nation’s top-rated stations with a contemporary jazz format.
That’s when Vasquez caught the attention of Mike Stafford, general manager at the time of KIFM-FM, San Diego’s smooth jazz station. Today, Stafford works in advertising and media consulting for marketing agency CSB Impact in San Diego.
“When Mr. Stafford offered me the job as program director of KIFM, it was a dream come true to work in the San Diego market,” said Vasquez. Within two years, in 2000, KIFM rose to become San Diego’s top-rated station in the ages 25-to-54 demographic. In 2005, the National Association of Broadcasters presented KIFM with the coveted Marconi Award as one of the top stations in the country.
Vasquez, known as “Mike V” on the air, spent 16 years (1998-2015) at KIFM before his job was eliminated in a corporate restructuring.
“I spent eight months on the beach until Garett Michaels re-launched KFMB and called me to join his team,” said Vasquez, who spent four years (2016-2020) at KFMB-FM 100.7. In 2000, Vasquez lost his programming job when Tegna sold the station to Local Media San Diego, where Michaels today is program director for XTRA-FM 91X and KFBG-FM 100.7 Big-FM.
“I took the COVID year (2020) to take classes, fortify my skill-set in digital marketing. During that time when churches were not meeting in person, Grove Church began their online ministry and needed some assistance, which led to me joining their staff,” Vasquez said. His part-time job later turned into a full-time job at The Grove.
“It’s been encouraging to see how God’s plan can turn-around challenging and unplanned life events into positive steps forward,” said Vasquez. “The Lord is still doing miracles today and equipping, releasing and reproducing people into their potential. Personal spiritual transformation is the best measure of success.”
Would Vasquez ever consider returning to radio broadcasting?
“I was asked that question the other day at a reunion, get-together dinner with some old-time radio friends,” said Vasquez. “I’m not sure of the answer because you never know about God’s future plans, where He wants you. But, I believe God wants me where I am right now. It’s gratifying and meaningful work and I’m soaking it all in.”
The Grove’s Sunday morning services at 8:15 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. are held at 4562 Alvarado Canyon Road, San Diego.
Local Media San Diego Radio Presents SoCal Taco Fest
Local Media San Diego, operator of four radio stations in San Diego, will present SoCal Taco Fest, a day-long, festival featuring tacos, music, Lucha Libre wrestling, a beauty pageant and Chihuahua races, starting at noon, Saturday, May 14, at Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego.
Performing musical groups include Banda Machos, Ana Barbara, Los Amigos Invisibles, La Sonora Dinamita con Vilma Diaz, Los Sleepwalkers, Kimba Light, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Naughty By Nature, Rob Base, Young M.C., The Purple Madness, FlashPants, 40oz to Freedom, High Tide Society, DJ Niayuku, Mariachi Diamante, DJ Viejo Lowbo, DJ Josexxx, Familia Loteria and Wa-Kushmá.
General admission tickets are priced at $60. For information, visit SoCalTacoFest.com. LMSD operates KFBG-FM Big-FM 100.7, XHRM-FM Magic 92.5, XHTZ-FM Z-90.3 and XTRA-FM 91X.
REQ Appoints Brooke Weller as SVP of Media
REQ, a Washington, D.C.-based digital marketing and brand management company with a San Diego office in Scripps Ranch, has hired Brooke Weller as senior VP of media.
Weller will lead REQ’s digital media team and oversee search, social and display advertising, as well as search engine optimization, social media and digital content. She will work closely with the company’s media team to drive client performance forward through strategic business recommendations, concrete activation planning and data-driven optimizations, REQ said.
Previously, Weller spent more than a decade supporting large-scale, global media planning and execution programs at marketing agencies iProspect and Neil Patel Digital. She led client programs for Fortune 500 brands, including Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Xbox, Levi’s and Anthem. Before her agency career, Weller spent five years building a search team at Adobe Systems, Inc.
“Brooke brings tremendous qualifications and leadership experience to REQ’s award-winning advertising and SEO team,” said Tripp Donnelly, REQ CEO and founder. “As marketing and communications continue to merge and evolve, Brooke’s arrival underscores REQ’s commitment to providing clients with innovative, holistic marketing solutions at all stages of the business lifecycle.”
IABC Discusses Game-Changing Corporate Communications
The International Association of Business Communicators San Diego chapter will host a virtual interactive session on “Corporate Communications Game-Changers” with Maria Huntalas of BioMed Realty, a commercial real estate company specializing in life-science and technology industries, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, April 28. Cost to attend the webinar s $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers and $5 for students.
Huntalas, senior director of corporate communications and marketing at BioMed Realty, will share practical ways to strengthen the value of the marketing-communications role using proven case studies. IABC said she also will discuss measuring external and internal communications strategies to prove a return on investment and tips for establishing business value to your leadership.
Since joining BioMed Realty’s team nearly three years ago, Huntalas has elevated the company’s brand awareness and thought leadership profile in the commercial real estate life sciences industry, IABC said. Prior to her time at BioMed, she worked in various performance and programmatic marketing management roles at IBM. Huntalas has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.