Career Capsule: I started in radio in 2008 after a few years working in television as a master control operator, then a technical news director. My first role was as a part time DJ at the Effect in Twin Falls, Idaho. About a year later I was hired on full time as the Director of Operations at CSN International (the Effect’s sister station). In 2014 I took a job at Calvary Albuquerque as the Operations Manager for a cluster of radio stations they own and operate. If one thing has been constant, it has been change. In addition to my job in Calvary I do a healthy amount of voiceover, production, consulting and other broadcast related work in my spare time. The roles in these jobs have ebbed and flowed and caused me to rapidly grow professionally, personally and spiritually.
Daniel, Tell us what’s new with KLYT… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
What’s new with KLYT? Well depending on when you last listened it’s a whole new format. As one of the first Christian alternative stations in the country, KLYT has been through quite a few changes. Our most recent was Easter 2014 when we changed from Static Radio to Star 88. Our visionary and GM, Chip Lusko, had a vision of a radio station that centralized on worship, with an emphasis on good Christian hits and a touch of fresh indie. We don’t play what we’re serviced, we play what’s good. But we didn’t stop with the music, 100% of the imaging is done in house, written and produced by our staff. We have special on air elements in each hour, like Solar Flares which are inspirational quotes from our favorite heroes of the faith. Power Points at the middle of each hour, a sixty second mini message from the best teachers in the world. The Supernova, which is a short teaching segment that challenges the listener to dig into the word on our sister station KNKT. We personally find and produce every piece of non-music on Star 88. All of this wrapped in an amazing team of on air presenters.
In 2015 we brought on Dex Toth, a believer who held over a decade of the number one morning show in Albuquerque, on a secular station. Now he hosts “the Morning Invasion” with cohost Stevo Jeter (a veteran of KLYT). Weekends we’re joined by Stephen Christian of Anberlin on the afternoons. Sunday is another unique day, we do a simulcast from 8a-2p featuring the best of the best Bible teaching, hand picked each week, followed by worship and a dash of modern hymns while we focus on the churches in town and upcoming events.
We aim to be a part of the community so we partner each month with a local non-profit through Mission New Mexico and bring awareness to our audience. And we are home of theWire, where listeners can submit their free or non-profit events for on air time. Our aim is to make an impact locally, to educate, equip and entertain our fellow believers.
What are some unique characteristics you’ve discovered about your market?
New Mexico’s motto is “the land of enchantment” but it is commonly referred to as “the land of manyana”. Everyone waits until the last minute for everything! It’s made events like fundraisers and concerts particularly interesting as there may seem to be no response until the last day when everything surges past expectations. There’s also a bit of church disunity. I’ve seen this in most places I’ve gone which is why so much of our focus is given to working with local churches and ministries to be their megaphone. We want to see this area united in Christ. Because KLYT is a statewide broadcast on 15 translator stations we have a very diverse listening audience and they love to be involved.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
“You’re replaceable”. Hands down, the best advice I’ve been given. God will raise up someone to take my place, ministry won’t stop because of me. God works in spite of us, even when we’re at our best. In ministry, our role is that of a pencil to an artist. God uses us to illustrate himself to the world, and he’s equipped us to be effective in a particular tasks, but if the pencil won’t draw, you can expect God to grab another pencil out of the box. It’s a perspective shift that reminds me that it’s not about me, or how talented or blessed I am.
The worst advice, came from a co worker a while back. We were brainstorming ideas about what to do on the station, and his idea was to literally rip off the playlist and format of a successful market leader. I think there’s always something we can learn from those who are doing it better, or more effectively, but the industry has enough of the same old thing. Isaiah 43:19, “behold, i am doing a new thing!” Christine Caine once said, the world looks for the next thing, but God is doing a new thing. Samuel looked for the next Saul, but God was looking for David, a new king. Don’t miss God’s new thing by looking in the wrong place.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I think this depends on the people at the stations. Albuquerque has one of the highest radio stations per capita in the US, and some of the stations we have a great relationship with. Our local Family life rep, for example, is at most of our events, and we welcome them There are others, however, who have banned us from their concerts and events. Not cool, bro. I think we can all work together in unity. We should be able to stop and say “they’re doing this better” and appreciate different tactics to reach different people.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?
Copious amounts of caffeine
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
You aren’t going to find an endless supply of talented people, there’s no warehouse where you can go and assemble the team you need. You’re going to need to choose someone and invest into them. That takes time, it’s difficult, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. I am the result of someone who took a chance on me, countless people who over the years poured into me. I wasn’t lazy, I have been aggressive to learn and be the best I can. Throw out this concept of the “lazy millennial”, instead disciple someone, day in, day out, and show them how to do radio.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
I bet we can all agree that staffing, qualified staff, finances, a changing landscape are all major issues. But the issue i’m seeing on the horizon is a paradigm shift of the format in general. I manage two different formats, bible teaching (block) and music.
Regarding the teaching format, in secular radio, you take great content and sell the air time around it. In Christian radio you sell the air time and put content around it. Donations are in constant decline, programmers are ending their broadcast ministries, and the next generation of Bible teachers is focused on the web. If you’re going to stay competitive you’ll need to be ahead of the curve. What are you going to do when the stalwarts retire?
Regarding music, we created a genre of Christian music through the record labels of the past. There were musicians singing Christian songs because it was easier to break into than the secular market. But as labels decline, and independent artists flourish, streaming services increase and fewer artists are willing to brand themselves as Christian, what are you going to play? I see a steady downward slope of Christian artists on labels like Bad Christian, and others, who are recording albums with profanity, in the name of “being real”. What about Ephesians 4:29? Daniel 1:8 says that “Daniel purposed in his heart…”, he decided in advance how he would respond to the situation that was coming. What are you going to play?
I think the biggest obstacle facing Christian radio, is the desire to do the same thing, the same way, and the fear to try something new.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Chip Lusko would have to be number one on my list. I’ve had the privilege of working with him for the last few years and he has challenged me endlessly. He’s not only a veteran of the industry with decades of knowledge and connections, but he is a manager who reflects excellence and brings it out of his staff.