Country When Country Wasn’t Cool… An Interview with Markos Papadatos On The Publication of his 2000th Article
By: Cindy Vasko
Seasoned journalist, Markos Papadatos, holds deep roots in writing and journalism and recently reached another publishing milestone. Yes, indeed, it has been a busy time for Markos with the publication of two thousand articles that feature his author by-line.
When Markos was asked when he wanted to become a writer, he noted, “Journalism smacked me in the face. I went to school to become an accountant but I loved education and journalism after I got involved with my college newspaper, The Queens College Knight News, since they were looking for writers. I had always wanted to write about country music, my biggest passion in life, and Queens College welcomed my submissions, unlike my high school paper.”
Growing up in a very small town in Greece from 1994-1998, Markos said that while music was not of much interest in his early years, he, however, “Related with the country music lifestyle, and didn’t buy too many records until junior high school and high school. Most of them were country albums such as Faith Hill, Lee Ann Womack, Martina McBride, Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss and Jo Dee Messina.” Markos emphasized that he holds a love for female country artists.
Markos’s journalism career launched about eight years ago and revealed, “For the first two years, I was strictly a film and theater reviewer and critic. Back in my college days, I would go to all the new Broadway plays and film premiers and cover them for The Queens College Knight News. Music journalism came about two years later. I always had a love and admiration for country music and I wanted to write about if for my college paper, at a time and place, [and especially in] New York, when country music was taboo. I remember trying to write about country music in my high school paper and they would always turn down my articles, no matter how good they were. I am happy to say that I was ‘country when country wasn’t cool,’– to quote my favorite Barbara Mandrell country song.”
Thinking back to his first magazine article, Markos expressed, “My first published article was an Oscar predictions piece, in February 16, 2006, for The Queens College Knight News. It was the coolest feeling in the world [to see a published article]. It’s like a new artist hearing their song on the radio for the very first time.”
Since many music journalists have a moment when a song or musician jump starts an interest in music in a profound way, Markos was asked if he could identify such a trigger of influence, and he exclaimed, “country singers in general” influenced him and continue to inspire him. He expounded, “I love their stories, their melodies, the honesty of their lyrics and their ballads. I love their music and if it weren’t for the love I have for that genre, I don’t think I would still be doing this. I still credit country singer Chuck Wicks for kick-starting my journalism career. The same holds true for country singers Jake Owen and Joe Nichols. Chuck was the very first musician that ever said ‘yes’ to me for a phone interview, while Jake and Joe were my second and third interviews respectively and the rest is history. This year, I had the great fortune to interview them all again in the same calendar year and it was an awesome feeling to reunite with all three of them. I feel very blessed to be able to do something that I love so much.”
On a somewhat different plane, Markos was asked if he has a dream interview tucked away in his mind regarding any musician, dead or alive, and he identified, the late great Laura Branigan. “Laura’s voice was so raw, powerful and emotional,” he said, and included, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone sing with such heart, soul and emotion.”
Markos’ proudest achievements thus far, are, of course, “2000 career articles – my proudest professional accomplishment in journalism! It is what I always wanted. The continuous support and love that I receive from artist managers, publicists and sometimes, the artists themselves is incredible. They honor me each time they tweet my articles or post them on their Facebook pages, or when they tell me ‘thank you, great job on the article,” Markos responded. This year alone, I got to interview some of my favorites in music: Martina McBride, Emmylou Harris, Jewel, Jeff Timmons from 98 Degrees, Amy Grant and David Cook, which was a real thrill,” he proclaimed.
When asked about the most difficult aspects of interviewing and writing, Markos revealed, “Celebrities might not always call you on time. There may be last-minute cancellations without much notice or they may call you really late and if you have more than one interview scheduled on a specific day that can affect your entire schedule, [this can be] frustrating. You need to be careful with your questions and you need to be gentle with them. You need to do a lot of research based on press releases, biographies, fact sheets and know that person before you interview them. It is a writer’s job to do his or her homework. I try to treat them all as my family members or best friends, which is why it has worked for me.”
Conversely, Markos divulged, “Once you’ve done so many interviews, you really get the hang of it and it becomes second nature to you. The amazing part about writing is that I get to feature some incredibly talented people that I looked up to as a teenager [and] that if anybody told me five years ago that I was going to be meeting and interviewing [celebrities], I would have [categorized] them as absolutely insane.”
Markos’ writing style avoids composing articles in question and answer form, and explained, “Since essentially the artist is writing it that way. I stick to the narrative, where I input my own voice in the piece, since I really want my readers to ‘get’ the person I am interviewing by the end of the article, which may be anywhere from 500 to 1500 words. For the most part, a major portion of the questions that I ask, work for any interview so I keep them on a regular basis in my questionnaire. As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ For instance, when I interviewed singer David Cook from ‘American Idol,’ I wanted all my readers to get to know Cook on a somewhat intimate level and learn a few new things about him. I am happy to say that I firmly believe that I accomplished that goal.”
What are Markos’ plans for the future? Of course he will continue on the same journalistic path, and commented that he will be, “Reviewing more live shows, discovering new talent and interviewing more famous people in music, especially more legends. As great as 2013 was from a journalistic standpoint, [I expect] 2014 to be even better and brighter. As of yet, I don’t have [celebrities] lined up [for 2014], but my schedule fills out quickly, especially once the holidays are over. Most managers and publicists are on vacation as we speak. I would still like to nab Tim Tebow as my dream male interview, and Alison Krauss as my dream female interview. Also, I would love to someday interview iconic singer Nana Mouskouri, who is one of the best-selling female artists worldwide with hundreds of millions albums sold throughout her fifty year career in music. I don’t think it could possibly get any better than Nana and it would make my parents really happy since they grew up with her music.”
In closing and certainly not least, check out the following parade of adulations for Markos! Repeating one of Markos’ statements when he noted that he receives, “continuous support and love … from artist managers, publicists and sometimes, the artists themselves – not only industry media professionals, but actors and musicians alike,” the following quotes affirm the collective shout-outs of praises for this veteran journalist:
“I have worked with Markos for many years and have set up interviews for him with quite a few of the artists I work with. There are a number of qualities in Markos I appreciate, but I think the one that is most refreshing is his enthusiasm for music and his interview subject. He is always thoroughly prepared for his interview and the artists always enjoy talking with him,” said Jennifer Bohler, President of Alliance Artist and Media Relations.
“I had known Markos for a few years now and he is definitely what I would call a ‘publicist’s dream.’ He manages to draw the best from all the artists that he interviews and turns each into a fascinating feature. All my clients love him,” said Martha Moore, President of So Much Moore Media.
“Markos is an extraordinary journalist I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years. His diligence, passion for music and entertainment, work ethic and strong support for the Greek and music community is always apparent,” said Chrissy Sutphin, Vice President of Luck Media and Marketing.
“Markos has an enthusiasm that is contagious. He truly loves his craft and that comes across in his articles. It’s such a pleasure to work with someone that truly respects his interview subjects and the genre they come from,” said Katie Cook, Media Personality from Country Music Television (CMT).
“Markos is wonderful. He is very supportive of our clients and very thorough in his reporting of entertainment. We appreciate his deep understanding of the musicians and performers we represent, and hope he continues to have a very long and fruitful career in music and entertainment journalism,” said Kirt Webster, President of Webster and Associates Public Relations.
“What can I say about Markos Papadatos? The guy is a class act and stand-out journalist in this crazy music industry. He is one of the most genuine people, who really cares about the artists he writes about, and I’m not just talking about the major artists, either. He treats indies with the same courtesy and respect as he does the seasoned superstars. It is because of that, that I respect him as a person, a journalist and a friend. Congratulations on your 2000 articles, Markos. Many more to come,” said Michael Stover, Artist Manager and Publicist of MTS Management Group.
“We have such a wide array of artists with varying musical genres. Markos always possesses such insight and is able to ‘nail’ each artist’s unique style and musical vision. He is always insightful, his interviews capture each artist. He is a pleasure to work with,” said Pam Lewis, President and CEO of PLA Media.
“Over the course of my 10 years in public relations, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Markos Papadatos on multiple artist profiles and interviews and he is always such a professional. He is very efficient in his time with the artists and one of the quickest in turnaround I’ve seen. We hope to have several of our clients included in his next 2,000 articles,” said Ebie McFarland, Publicist and CEO of Essential Broadcast Media, LLC.
“I’ve worked with Markos for several years and he has always been extremely professional. He takes the time to review materials and is fully prepared before interviews, and he is reliable, always calling in on time and not rescheduling…a publicist’s dream! He also sends links to the article, which he publishes very quickly following the interview. He is a nice guy and always eager to help which is greatly appreciated,” exclaimed Angela Villanueva, Account Executive of MSO PR.
“Markos is one of the most in-depth journalists that I’ve had the good fortune to have come across. Unlike many of the others, Markos looks beyond the surface, and takes the time to not only ask questions about whatever the current project is, but delves into the artist as a person and unveils what motivate and drives them. He is a gem, and I can’t wait to hear what the future holds for him and his own artistry,” said Jeff Timmons from the Grammy-nominated group, 98 Degrees.
Country singer-songwriter Elizabeth Lyons remarked, “Markos is truly a rock star music reviewer: strives for perfection, pays close attention to detail, thinks outside the box, does his research intensely, is passionate and caring, loves and knows music. Since the first time Markos interviewed me I immediately connected with him, I felt comfortable talking to him and ever since we’ve become good friends. Markos was organized: he came into the interview with questions prepared that were unique and interesting. Not only were his questions perfect, he genuinely seemed interested and excited. Markos has a true love and appreciation for writing and music which is obvious when you talk to him: when you read his writing. He has paid close attention to every detail of each and every song of every artist he reviews. Truly, passionate about what he does this equates into amazing reviews. He has the ability to sum up everything you want him to say in a page. I appreciate his excellence in writing being a recent Vanderbilt University graduate. He gets everything in. He is by far my favorite country editor in the industry. Known as “The Machine” known for cranking out stories quickly, which he totally does, he not only is a machine but he has the biggest heart and a wealth of knowledge. The country music industry is incredibly lucky to have him and I’m so blessed to have someone like him be a part of my musical journey from the beginning and believe in me and my music. Markos has written my all-time favorite articles. Markos you have been amazing and helpful and instrumental in my success this year, from the bottom of my heart: a huge heartfelt thank you.”
“I do at least 500 interviews within a year and they all are special in their own way. I will say that Markos always has a fresh look and perspective not only about the shows but about each great musician and that really lets me know that he has a great heart,” said Doug Gray, the lead singer of The Marshall Tucker Band.
“Markos is one of the most genuine, fair, and honest writers I have encountered during my career. He has a true passion for telling a story and making you feel like you were right there with him when he describes a review. I’m really happy to see this fellow Long Islander make great strides in journalism and I am proud to call him my friend,” said Long Island country singer-songwriter Lisa Matassa.
“Markos is one of the most passionate, dedicated professionals I have ever met. It has been nothing short of an absolute pleasure getting the opportunity to work with someone who finds so much joy and fulfillment in his craft. I’ve found his exceptional attitude to be contagious and have nothing but the utmost respect for the energy with which he approaches all aspects of his career,” said Long Island musician Andy Putman.
“Working with Markos is a publicist’s dream. He is reliable, tactful, and always a pleasure to work with. I am envious of how quickly he can get his stories out. Sometimes I wonder if he has found a way to clone himself and if so, this world is certainly lucky to have two Markos Papadatos!” exclaimed Karen Tallier, Owner and President of LoudMouth PR.
“Markos holds an undeniable passion and zest for the music industry, and his journalistic work directly epitomizes that fervor. His writing exudes authenticity because at the end of the day, he is a true, loyal fan and supporter of the subjects he covers,” stated Brittany Perlin, Associate Publicist of Dashboard Media.
“I’ve been Interviewed and had at least 6 articles written about my music by Markos. First of all, he is always so much fun to chat with!! We laugh so much! One of the qualities I notice the most about Markos is that he is always prepared!! He knows everything he wants to talk to me about and has done his research!! He is first class and professional!! I look forward to many more interviews with Markos!” exclaimed country singer-songwriter Julie Roberts.
“It’s rare to find a music writer as tenacious and dedicated as Markos. My team and I always appreciate his support of our artists, and its truly a pleasure working with someone so passionate about their craft. Congratulations on your 2,000th article,” stated Tree Paine, Senior Vice President of Warner Music Nashville.
“From the first time I met Markos I knew I was in good hands. A very sweet, professional, honest Man! I worked with him many times and will do it again!” exclaimed actor Gilles Marini (“Dancing With The Stars, “Brothers and Sisters”).
“Markos is top-notch and wonderful to work with. He knows his subject matter and is always so polite and professional to work with!” said Vanessa Davis, President of Splash! PR
“Markos Papadatos has interviewed a number of my high profile clients over the past several years. He is a talented journalist and media professional whose in-depth feature stories and reviews have been shared throughout the music industry and highlighted in my artists’ press materials. I’ve also gotten to know him personally and find him to be a person of great honesty and integrity,” said Claire Cook, Publicist from Average Joes Entertainment.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with Markos and have him interview our clients. As a writer, he is very earnest and sincere and has an undying passion and enthusiasm for his work which is infectious. I appreciate, as do my artists, that when we put him on the phone with them, he is always more than prepared and respectful of our artists and their time,” said Brian Bumbery, Owner of BB Gun Press.
“I first got to know Markos in 2003 when he was only eighteen and won a Walmart contest and a phone call from Martina McBride. Fast-forward more than ten years and Markos has made his dreams come true! It’s been great to watch him grow and become the respected journalist he is today,” said Cindy Hunt, Owner of Monarch Publicity.
“Working with Markos Papadatos has been such a pleasure for me over the years. His passion and enthusiasm for his trade makes him an unparalleled interviewer, and his attention to detail in writing stories that reflect an artist’s story effectively make him a publicist’s favorite. He is dependable, always meets deadlines and establishes a personal relationship with each and every person in the industry that he meets. I am proud to call Markos a colleague and friend,” said Amanda French, Publicist of Marquee Public Relations.
“Markos is extremely passionate about music so it’s always an absolute pleasure to work with him. He has interviewed many of our artists at Atlantic Records, and he is someone that we truly appreciate. He has a diverse taste in music and is equally as excited to cover emerging artists as he is the established acts. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Markos and also watching his career continue to grow,” said Christina Kotsamanidis, Vice President of Publicity at Atlantic Records.
“Markos is a true professional. His passion for music always comes through in his writing, and I have been lucky to work with him over many years,” said Natalie Geday, Owner of NMG Relations.
“Markos is a friend to all music. His articles put the artist on a one on one level with his readers. All artists should be grateful to be reviewed by this wonderful gentleman. He truly is passionate about finding the story behind the song . Love to you , Markos,” stated Dale Ann Bradley, five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) “Female Vocalist of the Year” winner.
“I have had the greatest opportunity to work with Markos Papadatos since the beginning of Country Pulse. I was an avid reader of Digital Journal, and was amazed at his writing ability and passion for country music. His articles and interviews always capture the artist in a non-commercial way. He involved part of himself in his work, and it shows. I contacted him and asked him if I could reprint some of his work, as not only a fan of the artist, but of his work as well. He graciously allowed me to run a couple of his interviews, and as a result of his work it drew more attention to my publication. He is a talented young man and a gifted writer. So as the months passed, his interviews and storied became a vital staple of the publication; and now he is valued as a part of Country Pulse. I tell him regularly how much I appreciate him and his contributions. He has made Country Pulse a better and more interesting publication with his article. Not only do I value him as a journalist for Country Pulse, but more so I value him as a friend,” shared Doug Smith, Editor and Publisher of Country Pulse Magazine.
“Working with Markos is always a pleasure. In addition to being incredibly organized and quick to publish his interviews, he is always friendly, enthusiastic and someone artists really enjoy talking with,” said Velvet Kelm, the President of The Media Collective.
“Markos is one of The Paramount’s favorite online music journalists and has penned some fantastic interviews with many of the musicians who have played our venue. His interviews are always thorough, insightful and well-reviewed with many artists re-posting and re-tweeting them to their fans as a result of their superiority. The Paramount wishes Markos continued success on the next 2,000 interviews and hope many of them feature bands coming to Long Island and playing in Huntington,” said Adam Ellis, Marketing Director of The Paramount.
“Working with Markos is really refreshing. Great journalist. That covers interesting issues and really pulls the best of you,” said actor James Lee Taylor.
“Makos’ passion and thoroughness in his work shines through in every piece he writes. A great journalist and one of the kindest I’ve had the privilege to work with,” said country music singer-songwriter Justin Adams.
“Markos is a great journalist to work with! He’s always timely and he has all his facts straight. It doesn’t get much better than that,” exclaimed Tiffany Bearden, CEO of Evolution PR.
“Markos is such a dedicated, hard-working and professional journalist. His passion for country music is infectious. It has been a pleasure working with him over the years and I know there will be a thousand more stories to come,” said Jensen Arrowsmith, President of Sweet Talk Publicity.
Photo 2: American Idol winner David Cook showcasing his interview with Markos (Photo Credit: Cindy Vasko)
Photo 3: Country singer Joe Nichols showcasing his interview with Markos