Career Capsule: Started in radio at WKOC/Chicago in 1987, worked with New Life Media at WCFL/Chicago from 1994-2001 after grad school, 2001-2009 led the ministry of World Mission Broadcast in South America from Buenos Aires, Argentina creating radio & television content in Spanish and Portuguese. In 2009, they ask me to come back to the US to lead World Mission Broadcast globally. I guess I still do that part time. Came to the Shine.FM network (Chicago, Indy & Lansing, MI) as Program Director in 2011, became GM in 2013.
Brian, tell us what’s new at Shine.FM… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
Besides being consumed with getting our public file online for the FCC, we are working on living out our mission by engaging more with the community this year. It’s a challenge with multiple markets in different states, but we have staff in each city and 4 satellite offices to serve our audience and potential audience.
Last year I began dividing my time between Shine and academics. I now teach two classes a semester and am investing more in student development. Training future broadcast leaders is a big part of our DNA. We are purposely giving advanced students more opportunity to learn hands-on through Shine.FM and our sister channels. We currently have 6 students on Shine.FM, there hasn’t happened in many in years.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
Work on the experience. I have several AC formats in our markets. What makes us unique when the music is so similar? Even though we are in multiple locations, we get out in the community and try to be as local as possible. We bring concerts to our markets. We create listener experiences on air through fun, interactive contesting. Even our business development representatives and donor development officers know that it’s all about the experience.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best programming advice – If something isn’t working, cut it and start something new.
Worst programming advice – You don’t need research. You know what they like.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
Maybe? It’s nice being the only game is town. Everyone knows you and loves you. But at the same time, others in the market push you to be better. I don’t spend a lot of time listening to the “competition” but knowing that they are there does make us work harder. I do love that we are all reaching people for Christ. That’s the important thing.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your show?
I do a weekly show, but I love doing show prep. That is important to me. Great show prep leads to a great show. I teach my students that one of the things they need to do a great show every day is sleep. This is next to impossible for a college student, but a great show all starts with a rested mind and a healthy body.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Hopefully, from great university programs that still believe media content creators are important. Also, look to your community. Just keep an ear out for great communicators with compelling personalities.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
We have spent years on air encouraging our audience and pointing people to become a part of a local community of faith, because we grow in community. However, there are so many who don’t want anything to do with the church, and they are looking to us to fill that void. We still want to encourage our audience to find that community, but we need to be better as helping our audience on their faith walk. We are looking at adding pastors on staff for our audience who can serve our listeners.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I respect and learn from so many in this industry, so I won’t drop all the names, but my true radio heroes are:
Dr. Jesse Spencer – a P1 who loves Shine.FM. He talks about us all over his community, and reminds me every day how God puts music out front of the battle to remind us to keep praise on our lips at all times.
Jim Cunningham – an online listener from Auburn, IN, who texts me every week to let me know he is listening to the beautiful praise music and thanks us for being used by God to change lives.
My 8-year old adopted son, Michael, who struggles from the unknown trauma of a drug-addicted mother and his abilities to control his own emotions and reason to be able to memorize the lyrics to every single song and ask deep questions when he doesn’t understand the message of the song.
He is my biggest radio hero.