Bill Marshall Profile: Faith, Community, and Radio
Monday through Friday, 2pm-7pm
By Victor Skinner
MUSKEGON – Longtime West Michigan radio personality Bill Marshall knows a thing or two about connecting with his community.
In fact, his life revolves around it.
“In a market like this … the successful radio personalities go out and press the flesh, as they say,” Marshall said. “You really have to spend some time in the community and meeting people personally.”
Engaging with the community is something Marshall, 59, has perfected during his more than 20 years on West Michigan airwaves, working for stations like 101.7 WMRR, 98.3 WLCS and the now defunct WCXT before coming to Muskegon’s 100.9 last year.
The Lansing native’s towering stature and deep baritone voice have helped him stand out from the crowd, he said, but it’s his relationship with his listeners that keep them coming back.
“I think sincerity and being who you are and coming across as sincere is important,” Marshall said. “But the deep voice certainly hasn’t hurt me.”
West Michigan residents who got to know Marshall during his 12 years at 101.7 are now tuning in to 100.9 on weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m., when the single father of two heads the afternoon drive shift. The community radio station’s fiercely local focus and flexible format reignited Marshall’s passion for radio after years at corporate stations, he said.
“What’s really cool about 100.9 is our varied format. There’s not that many stations in the country where the line-up includes Simon and Garfunkel, Foo Fighters, Barbara Streisand, and Van Halen,” Marshall said. “There’s not that many places you’d get that kind of selection.
“There’s always at least once an hour someone will say ‘I can’t believe they’re playing that,’ and that’s what I like about where I’m at right now,” he said.
Beyond radio, Marshall’s other passions also center on fellowship with his friends, family and community.
“I love to cook,” he said. “I love to do barbeque, it’s a process I’ve been involved in for many years.”
Marshall’s visited countless barbeque restaurants, both locally and in hot spots like Kansas City and the Carolinas, to perfect his own recipes and he’s become quite a connoisseur.
“During my learning process I’d go to barbeque places all over the country,” he said. “It’s pretty interesting the regional cooking people do.”
“My pulled pork is good, and I do a good smoked salmon. But I think what my friends like best is when I get my ribs going,” Marshall said. “The smoker is going in the Marshall house quite a bit.”
Marshall has also developed a special relationship with Muskegon’s Big Reds and the school’s large base of loyal supporters. Both of his children attended Muskegon High School before moving on to graduate from Michigan State. His son Travis now works as an AmeriCorps supervisor in Muskegon and his daughter Leah is finishing her master’s degree at the University of Washington.
“My kids went to the school and my daughter was in the band for four years,” Marshal said. “It reminds me a little bit of home, and being involved in the high school there.”
“I absolutely love West Michigan high school football. I really enjoy going to historic Hackly Stadium on a Friday night,” he added.
The stadium, less than a mile from Marshall’s home, is a local gem that brings out the best in the community, he said.
“Everyone puts everything aside and goes to enjoy the football teams. I just love the support they have from the community,” Marshall said. “It’s pretty easy for you to see people put their differences away and everyone – doctor, factory worker, or five days from being homeless – can scrounge up $5 and go.”
The local spirit is an important component for successful radio stations, Marshall said, and it’s a prime reason he’s proud to work at Muskegon’s 100.9 FM. The station’s flexible management allows on-air talent to create connections with listeners that big stations simply can’t replicate, while at the same time giving Marshall and other hosts the freedom to be themselves, he said.
“My faith is important to me, as well,” and that’s a topic many radio stations prefer to avoid, Marshall said.
“It’s not anything I have to hide” at 100.9 “and that’s pretty cool,” he said. “You get to be who you are. It’s very refreshing to be who you are because for many years I thought that was dead” in the radio industry.