Career Capsule: I’ve been in the business for 40 years, the last 15 in station ownership. Started in Christian radio in Erie, PA in 1978 at WCTL, on air and programming in Erie, PA, Pittsburgh, Dayton, Daytona Beach, Nashville, General Manager of several stations, and on my own in 2002.
Chris, tell us what’s new at Next FM … news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
It’s been exciting since our debut in Gainesville, FL. This big university town is a great place to reach young people with our format. I’ve really enjoyed putting the on air staff together, meeting and working with Aaron and Denee, Ceci Labarge, and Rick McConnell.
And its taken some time, but our website is incredible. I wanted to make sure that we look and sound as good as any major market Christian station.
I’m also the proudest grandfather of three that you may ever meet. Nothing I’ve ever done in radio, buying or selling stations, compares to being “Pop Pop” to these three.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I tend not to listen to well! LOL. There were some great Christian radio leaders, who told me to become the third Christian AC in the Gainesville market. Those stations do an incredible job. I decided, with limited research, to do a Christian CHR, that also leans urban. The Christian hip hop product right now is outstanding.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best is something we’ve all heard. “Play the hits”, and “Its not what you play, its what you don’t play.” Once music research hit out business, this has not changed.
The worst: “Just push the button and let Selector do its thing.” So wrong!
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I agree that competition makes us all better. I love to compete. It just helps drive me, and takes me back to my early days in the business. I was blessed to learn so much in the 1980’s, and be involved in some great competitive battles between CHR’s in several markets, both on air, and programming.
I’m very happy that there are two and three Christian radio stations in most markets.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?
The internet or wifi. I love technology, and I’m so lost if I don’t have the ability to access our platforms. Just ask my engineers.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
I’ve found in my return to Christian radio, that there is great young talent out there. I’m impressed at the voices I hear on Boost in St. Louis, and several other stations.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
I continue to see great things going on right now. I do believe getting Christian stations on larger signals, and having the ability, money and know how on constantly changing technology will be issues we all face. But I’m very excited for the future. I know I need to expand NEXT FM, and the format to other signals, and as many platforms as we can.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I’m a bit of a programming historian. I have read, and studied everything there is on legendary programmers like Bill Drake, Mike Joseph of Hot Hits fame, and everything Scott Shannon has ever done. Scott is my friend, and mentor. We talk a lot. There is no one better today, at still understanding how to program a radio station, like Scott.