Scott Mann remembers watching the Jerry Lewis telethon, and knowing he wanted to make a difference.
“When I was a kid, I would see the Jerry Lewis telethon on the TV and I’d say, ‘I’m going to collect money and bring it up to the TV station,’” Mann recalled. “As a kid, it seemed like a nice thing to do. As an adult, especially in the radio business, community service is part of what most successful radio stations do. It’s a part of our license to serve our community, and it’s a part that I take very seriously.”
Mann is one of the most notable radio personalities along the Grand Strand, broadcasting his show on WAVE 104.1 from 2-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. And he uses that regional stardom for good each year in the station’s Marathon for Meals event. The event encourages community members and listeners to the rock station to bring nonperishable food items to a trailer that was once stationed at Broadway at the Beach for a week in November, but was moved to Bi-Lo on 38th Avenue North.
“It just got better every year,” Mann said. “The way it used to work is I would sleep in an RV in the parking lot at Broadway at the Beach for seven days, and we would fill the Socastee Heritage Festival trailer with nonperishables for Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach and Community Kitchen of Myrtle Beach.”
Mann got the idea for filling the trailer when he worked at a rock station in Greenville in 1996.
This year was the event’s 14th year, and Mann said it was the best one yet.
“We decided to retool it and now it’s a full radio station event,” Mann said. “For the second year in a row we’ve done it with Bi-Lo, and this year was the most successful ever.”
Through the years, Mann has overcome cancer and was on chemotherapy one year when the food marathon took place. He also battled a bad case of poison ivy one year, but neither could make him lose focus.
“No matter what happens, year in and year out, the people of the Grand Strand support it,” Mann said. “People from all walks of life come and help out and it just makes me feel good.”
He said he will often hear stories from people who have used those agencies and they credit those agencies with getting back on their feet.
“Most of all, it comes down to a real simple thing: Like most people, I wasn’t born here, but I lived a large part of my life in South Carolina. I’ve lived the last 17 years in Myrtle Beach… When you’re in a position that I’m lucky enough to be in, how could you not give back? It’s a part of the deal.”
But Mann said the event has grown far beyond what he could solely take credit for.
“Every year it keeps getting attributed to me, and it’s not a me – it’s an us. It’s a WAVE 104.1 event,” he said. “The entire staff of this building and our sister stations all help out in one way or another to make it even possible for it to happen. And at the end of the day, the only thing I’m doing is flapping my gums. There [was] still a big trailer sitting in the back of the radio station filled up end to end with food because people brought the food. It’s not like I did this. I didn’t do this. I’m just a big mouth.
“People of the community do this. We’re just the facilitator.”
In past years, Mann has had his hand in the March of Dimes, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, was given the Community Star Award in 2009 by the Wellness Council for South Carolina, and is a board member for South By Southeast, which raises money for local music education.
But there’s something about collecting food at this time of year that’s close to Mann’s heart.
“Right around this time of year every year, I could use a little bit of my faith in humanity restored, and it always seems to do that.”
This is part three in an eight-part series taking a look at Horry’s Angels — a selection of community members nominated by the public for outstanding selfless efforts.
The series continues Wednesday.