Career Capsule: Began with Family Life Radio in 1984 and worked for 3 stations for them, also served on air and in programming at WBGL, WCFL, KSBJ, WAY-FM, SiriusXM, WJXA. Have been a freelance air and voice over talent for 12 years.
1. Doug, what’s the latest news, etc with you?
I have a successful voice over and air talent practice, gladly serving stations all over North America. Currently on Middays on the ChristianFM Network, Mornings on SiriusXM “The Message”, and on air daily at KCBI, Dallas, “94.1 The Breeze”, Tulsa, “JoyFM” in the Carolinas, and “Praise FM” in Parkersburg, WV. I’m also on weekends on “Power 107.1” KSLT in the Black Hills. Doing much by way of voice over, too, with commercials, e-learning, IVR, and audiobooks.
2. Doug, you were the very first HisAir.Net exclusive interview back in 2002… a lot has happened since, overall how has Christian radio changed, stayed the same?
I think Christian Radio is getting better and better. The men and women of this format, in many instances, dig deeper and work harder to be excellent for excellence’s sake than I have seen elsewhere. You can always find examples to the contrary, of course, but in general, the format is doing more “right things” than it ever has.
3. What is the best programming advice you’ve been given, the worst?
“Don’t run from things that aren’t chasing you” from John Frost is probably the best. So many Christian radio stations succumb to reacting to problems that aren’t really there while being oblivious to the real challenges.
I think the worst thing I ever heard was a station manager who told me “We don’t need to do research to find out what people want. We already have a pretty good idea.” Thankfully, that was a long time ago and I don’t think that manager still feels that way. I hope.
4. Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I think it’s a non-productive discussion. The more important consideration is: you have competition all around you NOW, no matter what city you’re in. NO ONE in North America who really wants it lacks access to Christian music.
So, what else will you give them?
5. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Anywhere talented, interesting, persuasive, passionate, teachable communicators are. I will say this, though: I am often surprised at how many college age and younger people I hear from who express a desire to get into radio as an air talent. I’m not persuaded we are lacking a “draft class” for the future like some seem to believe.
6. Live & local or syndication, what’s the benefits of each?
One of the things I value so much about what Jon Hamilton and Paul Tipton do at ChristianFM is they bridge that gap pretty effectively. The technology we have does not require a station to make such a stark choice. You can, in many ways, be both local AND syndicated. That said, I sure do wish programmers and managers would get it out of their head that people really care about the physical location of the air talent and where the entertainment comes from. Listeners REGULARLY believe I am in their local market, if they even wonder at all. If/when they happen to find out I am actually in Nashville, I have yet to encounter a single person bothered by it. Most just say “Wow, cool. You sound like you’re right here.”
7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Christian radio itself. We have to stop believing we’re not capable of great things and start believing excellence is a mandate. I also think the ratings methodology itself holds back much of radio, but I suppose that is a separate conversation.
I also think the limits of FM technology will continue to come home to roost over time, and I really hope our format isn’t afraid to try new things on these digital platforms, and deliver what people want on their terms even as we “broadcast”.
8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Brant Hansen is the best communicator I have ever known, and routinely inspires and yet embarrasses me because I’m 100 miles out of his league. Anyone not taking Sherri and him in some daypart is missing out. John Frost has taught me so much and coached me up in a thousand different ways and been INCREDIBLY patient with me. Barbara Bridges was the best PD I ever worked for. Matt Austin has been an incredible friend and in many ways a mentor to me, even though he doesn’t know it. Joel Burke doesn’t use a lot of words but he teaches by example and lives it out ever day. Alan Mason is the wisest person I know in radio. Joe Battaglia has taught me many many things about keeping good relationships. Jon Hull has been a true encourager to me. There are just so many people I admire. I am thinking right now of at least 6 different air talents that I could take a master class from and there are more. I’d better stop.