Career Capsule: Mainstream radio stations in Minnesota, Colorado and Iowa preceded my time in Christian radio. By God’s ridiculous grace, I started at KNWS / Waterloo in 2005 as a baby Christian. In 2011, my friend Scott Michaels invited / urged me to join the KDNW team in Duluth. And in 2012, when my position there ended budgetarily, I splashed down in Des Moines at KNWI. 10 years with the wonderful people and stations of Northwestern Media. At the end of 2015, God showed me an open door with WAY-FM, and for the past 2 years I’ve served at WAY’s Denver cluster, which includes our Denver, Colorado Springs, Loveland and Pueblo stations. Plus, I get to work with our one-man team in Wichita to keep things moving forward there.
Tell us what’s new with WAY FM Denver… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
WAY-FM has had an excellent year of growth and change! John Scaggs and Todd Stach added their leadership gifts on the corporate and network levels, two godly and gifted men. In the Denver cluster, we as a team, and our listeners as well, have benefited greatly from a local hire, Abbie Kemp, in our Community Impact Director position.
What are some unique characteristics you’ve discovered about your market?
Many nuances make Denver a special place to try to penetrate with WAY-FM’s ministry. From the network, our product is stronger than ever, and our most passionate listeners reflect back in detail to us what we believe those strengths are. That said, our unique signal coverage, difficult traffic flows, and the near-constant gorgeousness of Colorado’s climate and geography give our listeners and potential listeners many many distractions. We’re grateful for our growth in Pueblo and Wichita. In Denver, NoCo, and CO Springs – we’re continuing the hard work to make deep, meaningful connections with our listeners.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
BEST: play the hits and play them often; reflect the tastes and attitudes of our target listeners; protect the brand fiercely. Worst: I need to wear a tie. 🙂
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
One question: How do you define “Christian station”? Terrestrial, satellite, and online options such as podcasts (the Liturgists, anyone? millions of downloads a month) allow for near-infinite choices for our listeners and potential listeners. Two ways to begin looking at it: market, and kingdom. Market says be the best, strongest, most profitable brand. Kingdom says the fields are ripe for harvest and the workers are few. Allowing for a both-and, I’ve seen competition drive innovation and stronger creativity to reach people with the gospel. Not everyone can be the biggest, but God seems to be allowing unique voices to rise to the top, just as he has always done. Those compelling voices will inspire their tribes to spread the word and help them grow.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
Hard to pick just one. My 6:45 am phone call to my kids to make sure they’re up and around for school, and to share a verse and pray with them, is probably my most vital right now.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
They’ll come from conversations, where those of us who lead now with passion inspire an awe and wonder in the possibility that a person can combine entertainment and inspiration with the eternal. They’ll come from your public high school down the street, perhaps an email from a listener of your station now, that application you just about tossed, the barstool or church pew next to you.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
The tyranny of the urgent… money for everything, like dependable tech, talent development and marketing… tribalism that puts country above Christ… moral laziness… blinders to the devil inside while we’re looking outside… the threat of net neutrality changes which could put religious media in lanes with diminished access lanes… me forgetting my login password (again) 🙂
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My current boss, Zach Cochran, for facilitating an environment for our team to thrive, especially as I’ve shifted to becoming a full-time single dad this past year. Previous mentors to whom I’m ridiculously grateful include Doug Smith, Scott Michaels, Dave St. John, and Dick Whitworth. Jeff Connell, Melony McKaye, Lisa Williams, Bruce Barrows, Rick Hall, Rev. Dave Ryerson, and Mike Couchman deserve numerous kudos. Old school Minneapolis (my hometown) radio influences include John Hines, Tom Barnard, and Steve Cannon – who first led me to believe that you can change people’s hearts and minds for the better, just by saying something on the radio.