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Mark Stansbury

Gospel radio show host and academic administrator Markhum “Mark” L. Stansbury, Sr. was born on April 5, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee to Willie and Eliza Markham Stansbury. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, where he was editor of the yearbook. In 1960, at age eighteen, Stansbury was hired as a radio personality and gospel announcer at Memphis, Tennessee’s WDIA-AM, where he has worked for over fifty years. He went on to receive his B.A. degree in history from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in 1966.

Upon graduation from Lane College, Stansbury was named the school’s public relations director. He then took a job with Holiday Inns, Inc. in 1969 as a community relations manager, where he worked until 1981. From 1983 to 1987, Stansbury was an insurance agent for Union Central Life Insurance Company and American United Insurance Company, and then served as special assistant to the governor of the State of Tennessee from 1987 until 1989. Stansbury was named assistant to the president of the University of Memphis in 1989, and went on to work for four university presidents. In addition, Stansbury has served as vice president of advancement at LeMoyne-Owen College and interim president of Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Tennessee Community College). He was also a regular photographer for the Memphis World and Tri-State Defender, and briefly worked as a reporter and copy editor for The Commercial Appeal.

Stansbury has been affiliated with or served on the boards of Leadership Memphis, E 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District, St. Andrew AME Church, Memphis Race Relations and Diversity Institute, Shelby Farms, YMCA, Goals of Memphis, and the University of Memphis Foundation. He was appointed to the Shelby County Historical Commission, and served as an advisory board member of South Central Bell. He was a NAACP Freedom Fund Gala Coordinator; past president of the Public Relations Society of America-Memphis Chapter; and served on the Steering Committee for the United Negro College Fund. Stansbury was also a founder of Diversity Memphis, an organization which fights to eliminate bigotry.

He is a member of the United Negro College Fund Hall of Fame, and has received the Award of Merit, the highest award presented to a citizen by the Mayor of Memphis. Stansbury was also named Parent of the Year by the Memphis Rotary Club, and was the first person to receive the University of Memphis’ Campus Unity Award in 1993.

Mark Stansbury was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 25, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.037

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/25/2014

Last Name

Stansbury

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Leon

Schools

Leath Elementary

Booker T. Washington High School

Lane College

First Name

Markhum

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

STA11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans and Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Lost Somewhere Between Sunrise And Sunset. Sixty Golden Minutes Each Set With 60 Golden Seconds. No Reward Is Offered For They’re Gone Forever.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/5/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Hamburger

Short Description

Radio talk show host and academic administrator Mark Stansbury (1942 - ) was a host for over fifty years on WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as the assistant to four University of Memphis presidents.

Employment

WDIA

WJAK

Lane College

Commercial Appeal

Holiday Inns, Inc

Union Central LIC / American United LIC

State of Tennessee

University of Memphis

Shelby State Community College

LeMoyne-Owen College

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661021">Tape: 1 Slating of Mark Stansbury's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661022">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661023">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661024">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury talks about his mother's upbringing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661025">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury describes his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661026">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661027">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury talks about his family's emphasis on temperance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661028">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury describes his sister's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661029">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661030">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury remembers the influence of Juanita Brewster Crenshaw</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661031">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury remembers being interviewed by Nat D. Williams</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661032">Tape: 1 Mark Stansbury describes the Foote Homes community in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661033">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury describes the Foote Homes housing projects in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661034">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury talks about the importance of punctuality, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661035">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury talks about the importance of punctuality, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661036">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661037">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury talks about segregation in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661038">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury remembers his involvement with journalism at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661039">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury remembers joining the Teen Town Singers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661040">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury recalls his start at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661041">Tape: 2 Mark Stansbury remembers meeting his wife</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661042">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury talks about the hosts of WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661043">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury talks about the listenership of WDIA Radio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661044">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury remembers his decision to attend college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661045">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury describes his time at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661046">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury recalls the influence of Ernest Withers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661047">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury describes how he joined the staff of WJAK Radio in Jackson, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661048">Tape: 3 Mark Stansbury talks about his Top 40 program on WJAK Radio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661049">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury talks about the music community in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661050">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury remembers his influences at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661051">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury talks about his experience at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661052">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661053">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury reflects upon Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s activism in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661054">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury remembers the shooting of James Meredith</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661055">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury remembers joining the staff of the Holiday Inns, Inc.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661056">Tape: 4 Mark Stansbury talks about working for the Holiday Inns, Inc.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661057">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury describes how he became the president's assistant at Memphis State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661058">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury remember his presidency of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661059">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury reflects upon his time as a university administrator</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661060">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury remembers volunteering for W.W. Herenton's mayoral campaign</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661061">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury remembers his Arthur S. Holman Lifetime Achievement Award</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661062">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury describes his experiences at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661063">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury talks about the Memphis State Eight, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661064">Tape: 5 Mark Stansbury talks about the Memphis State Eight, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661065">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury talks about his civic activities in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661066">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury reflects upon his tenure at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661067">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury reflects upon the legacy of WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661068">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury reflects upon his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661069">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury remembers Ernest Withers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661070">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661071">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury talks about his family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661072">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661073">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury talks about his community organizing efforts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661074">Tape: 6 Mark Stansbury describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/661075">Tape: 7 Mark Stansbury narrates his photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Mark Stansbury remember his presidency of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee
Mark Stansbury reflects upon his tenure at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
But in there, I would have to look at my resume on the dates, you know, years. The commissioner of education--I happened to be on a trip for the City of Memphis [Tennessee]. I was on the 9-1-1 board [Shelby County Emergency Communications District]. I think I may have been chair at the time, and I was out in of all places, Las Vegas [Nevada]. And we were observing at a 911 convention and looking at some things that California was doing.$$9-1-1 in terms of, the terrorist attacks (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Nine eleven [September 11, 2001], the emergency communications, yeah. And this was called the emergency communication, we had 9-1-1 here and the chancellor of the board of regents in Tennessee [Tennessee Board of Regents] called and I was down at a meeting and my wife [Stansbury's ex-wife, Lucy Barber] came down to get me. She said, "I think you need to call. You got a long distance call from Chancellor Smith." I said, "What Chancellor Smith doing calling me?" She said, "I don't know." Say, "He didn't say." So I called him back and he says, "Mark [HistoryMaker Mark Stansbury], this is Charles, Charles Smith [Charles K. Smith]. Say I would-how would you like to be president of Shelby State Community College [Southwest Tennessee Community College, Memphis Tennessee]?" And I laughed. I said, "How would I like to be president of Shelby State?" I said, "I've never thought about it." He said, "Well I want you to think about it." And, and I said, "Well I have to--," I said, "I really have to do some thinking on that one." And then he said, "Well think about it and call me back tomorrow." So before I could call him back, he called me back. And said, "What's your decision?" I said, "Chancellor I just can't give you a decision right now," blah, blah, blah. And he said, "Well--." I said, "Because I haven't talked to my boss." He said, "Well believe me, I have already talked to him because the chancellor--the presidents report to the chancellor anyway. So I want you to talk to him." And then the next thing I know he says, "Well how about coming back to Tennessee?" Because I was out there in Vegas. He said, "How about coming back to Tennessee?" And I said, "Well okay, soon as I can get a flight back." And I finally got back and he made a trip from Nashville [Tennessee]. Came down, took me out to lunch and talked to me and you know to see. And we decided what I could do and if I could do this. I said, "Well how long will it take? I mean how long do you want me to be there?" He say, "For about six months." And so I said, "Well, let me make a few more talks." And so I talked to--the mayor was a good friend of mine and I talked to him and some of my political--$$This is Herenton [W.W. Herenton]?$$Herenton, yeah, a good friend of mine. And they were all very supportive of me. And they said, "You have always worked in the background doing things for others and I think this is probably your time." So long story short, I accepted it and thought I would be there for six months. We had a search for a president, and as I recall there was about--either fifty-six or fifty-eight candidates that were interviewed. And then when it came time, the chancellor made a report that nobody fit the bill or could do it as well as I was doing it, trying to relate to the community and uphold the name of Shelby State. And so they decided they was gonna keep me there longer. And so long story short, I ended up being there two years, supposed to be there six months as president of Shelby State.$$Now did, did you enjoy being the president?$$I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. And everybody wanted me--the people in the community and at the college wanted me to accept the president, be president. And I said no, I had made that commitment and I was kind the kind of person that if I make a commitment, I'm gonna live to my commitment, regardless. I mean and being president--I don't know if you've been president, but there's a lot of pressure. I mean it might be good. I mean you get dinners to go here and do this and you hobnob with the big fund raisers and the people who give you money. But also there's a lot of pressure on you, you know.$$Now what's the--give us some sense of the demographics of Shelby State and what were some of the issues there when you became president?$$We--the demographics, we had about six thousand students. There was a workforce of about five hundred as I recall. The problems--the president had done--enrolling students--I can't remember exactly. Enrolling students, telling them they could do this and they didn't have to do that. It was just a big controversy and they had to let him go. They had paid their money and they were registering and it was just a whole lot of chaos among the faculty and the students. And I was then able to quell that and get them back--people in a working mode. There was--had lost confidence in the previous president.$So at WDIA [WDIA Radio, Memphis, Tennessee] today your show is still being broadcast. You, do you having any thoughts of retiring from the show or you gone do it as long as you can?$$No, I'm gonna do it as long as I can. In fact my wife [Imogene Sayles Stansbury] tells everybody they'll take me out feet first. But I'm working for a good guy, Bobby O'Jay and gives me an opportunity to do the things that I want to do and to help keep the community informed and I just do things just within you know, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], Federal Communication guidelines. I enjoy it and enjoy making people happy each Sunday.$$Okay. Clear Channel [Clear Channel Communications, Inc.] came in and cut a lot of jobs at WDIA.$$Right, and in fact my job wasn't cut but my hours were cut. I'm down to four hours now on Sundays from four o'clock until eight o'clock. I'm really on the air from four until seven and then from seven until eight I'm there because we have a church called Mount Vernon Baptist Church Westwood [Memphis, Tennessee], which is pastured by the Reverend James L. Netters who has been documented as the longest serving pastor of any church in Memphis, Tennessee. He's been the pastor for fifty-eight years. And so I'm on the board when his church is on and when his church goes off the air, then supposedly I go home. I don't go home, but I'm off the air. But I do some production work afterwards.$$Okay so do you stay around until eleven?$$No, no. But you know they say out of everything bad comes some good. The bad thing is that my hours were cut. But the good part was that it gives me an opportunity to go home and spend some time with my wife because for almost thirty years I was never at home on Sunday evening. Have to go to church, I would rush home, change clothes and to the radio station because I was there at two. So out of everything bad comes some good.$$Yes sir, okay. Well some of your--the personalities on WDIA now include Stan Bell, Bobby O'Jay, Stormy, Nelson [Ford Nelson].$$Bev Johnson and Janis Fullilove.$$Okay, now she was a city councilman?$$She is city councilwoman now, she is now. And in fact city council [Memphis City Council] meets on Tuesday and she's off on Tuesdays. They usually bring in a substitute for her so she can do that.$$Okay, okay. So WDIA continues on. I mean you--has it--I've looked around on the walls and there've been plenty of--I think the papers covered the history of WDIA over and over again. Have there been books written about WDIA?$$To my knowledge there's only been one book ['Wheelin' on Beale: How WDAI-Memphis Became the Nation's First All-Black Radio Station and Created the Sound That Changed America,' Louis Cantor] and it's--I was trying to think of it--there's been one book. Only one book has been written about and I just can't think of the name of it right now.