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The scene: a Seattle nightclub called the Backstage. A low ceiling room holds 300 buzzing people. A buoyant mood pervades, the recent performance that blew the crowd away not quickly fading. Backstage, a young Garth Brooks poses for pictures with hosting radio station KMPS FM Seattle. As the camera’s shutter clicks, a young Mark Seignious playfully plants a kiss on Garth’s cheek. 

Who is this daredevil? And just how did he come to be the head of the Communication Department at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul? Seems like a story worth the telling…

It all started at San Diego State University, where Seignious worked at the student radio station. This cutting-edge station was one of a handful across the country that introduced the nation to a whole new generation of artists: names such as The Clash, Elvis Costello, the Violent Femmes, and U2. The station also hosted numerous live concerts on campus. Through all of this, Seignious was soaking it in, often meeting the bands the station brought in.

A very young and surprised Mark Seignious poses with Dolly Parton

A particularly memorable moment involved having his photo taken with Dolly Parton who quite uninvited, brushed him from behind with the two things that made HER famous and stated calmly in that Southern drawl.

“I thought that’d get your attention!”

Dolly parton

Seignious’ brushes with fame are the product of an estimated 300 or more concerts over his career including:

  • George Jones
  • Alabama
  • Reba McEntire
  • Alan Jackson
  • Trisha Yearwood
  • Martina McBride
  • Faith Hill
  • and more

During Seignious’ stint at Twin Cities K102 Shania Twain reworked her famous song “That Don’t Impress Me Much” to include his on-air name Disney Dayton.

Throughout his career Seignious took his radio craft around the nation, working in San Diego, Seattle, Sacramento, back to San Diego and finally to the Twin Cities. In Minnesota he worked at BOB FM, K102, and the FAN before finally settling in at UNW and Northwestern Media. What started as a position with the am radio station morphed over time into his current full time teaching job and chair of the Communication Department.

As Seignious reflects, he can see that it was God’s hand working through his experiences to prepare him for the fulfilling work that he does today. Though Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and Dolly Parton perhaps are not a key part of those experiences, they still make Seignious one of the more fascinating tales on the UNW campus. These tales and the man who tells them are a mere Communication Department class away from being your own classroom experience. Don’t take my word for it, come and hear for yourself.

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