DO YOU REMEMBER
lot has changed over the last 25 years in Dubai. Back in 1991, there was certainly no sign of the world’s tallest building. There wasn’t much call for man-made islands either, let alone bustling areas such as Dubai Marina, JLT or Downtown.
It was a vastly different city and a different pre-internet, pre-mobile era.
But in a period of vast change and rapid growth, one voice has stayed constant to the city’s residents. Today, DJ Mark Lloyd will be celebrating 25 years of broadcasting on the airwaves when he presents daytime travel show The Ticket on Dubai Eye.
His smooth delivery, friendly tone and banter with co-presenters Stef Burgon and Zahra Soar will be familiar to many listeners.
They might not know that Mark, originally from Oldham in the north of England, first arrived in the city as a professional musician in 1985. The piano man got his break on air on September 8 1991, on a show called Good Sounds for a station then known as Dubai FM.
He explains: “A lot of my friends had said that I knew a lot about music and had the voice for radio, and encouraged me to give it a blast. We had a child on the way so I was looking for a bit more stability too to be honest. For my audition, I remember my first song was Something Happened on the Way to Heaven by Phil Collins. A nice, punchy song with a long intro.
“Back in those days, I had no computer to tell me how many seconds I had but I got it bang on and the producer was really pleased.”
From his big break at Good Sounds, an hourlong show full of love songs and hits, Mark went on to helm a number of shows.
From the weekend breakfast through to Planet Jazz and a popular Friday request show, Mark was then tasked to head up Dubai’s first-ever talk radio station as Dubai Eye was born 13 years ago. Career highlights for this passionate music fan include interviews with Quincy Jones, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Blondie as well as a one-week special he broadcast from Hollywood for the Oscars. Mark has seen a lot change in Dubai. But there’s been a lot of change in his career, life and of course that hairstyle! Mark Lloyd (from top) broadcasting from the Oscars in Hollywood, in the studio with Jason Lumber and part of the team back in the day with Dubai FM 92.
Former co-presenter Jason Lumber jokes: “There is never a dull moment with Mark. Of course his new hairstyles are always cropping up, pardon the pun, to turn heads! But he’s a real professional, he’s got fabulous timing and a pleasant personality which is quite simply made for radio.”
Now 58 and married to Jean, Mark is also a proud dad to Luther and Roxanne. And work has come a long way since he was first driving up and down the two-lane road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for gigs. “I used to dress up for radio, in a shirt and tie and briefcase,” he laughs. The briefcase was a vital piece of kit in those days. “It had my Guinness Book of facts and figures and my papers and magazines with pieces that I had highlighted, because of course we had no internet back then. Now of course there’s digital music and the internet is a game changer.” Mark, a music head who loves radio, has the best of both worlds, presenting The Ticket and an afternoon slot on the 92 Smooth digital station. He says: “I’m proud I’ve managed to clock up 25 years. And I’m lucky that I still get letters from listeners who say they enjoy what I do.”