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Joe Polek

Morning Show Producer, Promotions

WMHK

Columbia

     

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Joe's Career Capsule
During my senior year at Messiah College, I accepted the position of Promotions Director and Afternoon Drive host at WMSJ radio in Portland, Maine. I was at WMSJ for 6+ years, where I went from Afternoons/Promotions to Assistant PD/Mornings.  I learned a lot about life and radio during my time at WMSJ.  In August 2007, my wife was pregnant and we felt the Lord calling us to move on.  Thatís when I accepted the position of Program Director/Music Director of WHCF in Bangor. I was there for nearly 5 years, also serving as Music Director/Promotions for WHMX. In July 2012, I accepted the job of Morning Show Producer / Promotions / Website at WMHK in Columbia, SC.

 

1. Tell us about how you became a part of WMHK?

Itís God. In this bad economy, itís truly a God thing.

In late spring 2012, I saw the writing on the wall that things were not great at WHMX, financially. So, when I saw a job posting at WMHK, I decided to take a closer look. My wife and I had talked frequently about where weíd like to move if the right opportunity came open. Most of the time, I would bring an opportunity to my wife and she would say No. However, when I took her the opening at WMHK, she said ďgo for it!Ē My wife and I had always said if we moved we could go south and not stop until at least the Carolinaís. God must have heard us.

I was asked to fly to Columbia for an interview. The next day, I went in to work at WHMX and was told that the station was being sold and that my position was being eliminated. Instead of getting fearful for my future, I laughed and told them that God had it all covered. I told my bossí that I was flying to Columbia for a job interview. They were relieved, as letting me go was not what they wanted, but it was what they had to do.

So I flew to Columbia, interviewed, and accepted the job a week later. I moved to Columbia from Bangor, July 15th, and my wife and 2 daughters came down the first week in August.

I had heard many great things about WMHK, each of the people that had worked there, and knew of the awards they had received. After meeting John Owens, who reminded me of my first GM, and having met Joe Paulo (I was still mad at him for edging me out for a Big Screen TV years ago during one of those Football Pools the label put on) and Jeff Cruz before, I thought that it would be a great learning opportunity for me to work with them.

 

2. What is your role at WMHK?

I produce the Morning Show (based in Charlotte), and do live weather and traffic. Using a sports analogy, Iím the 6th man, when it comes to on-air. When someone is out, Iím in. I also am in charge of the website, which we just totally redesigned in September. Iím also getting more and more involved with promotions. I do a little bit of everything. Thatís pretty much how each of the staff seeís their role. We each have job titles, but really itís everyone playing a role to help get the job done. I love that this staff is a team. We are not bound by job descriptions. We each look for ways to help get things done.

 

3. Tell us about your move to Columbia, things you learned, advice to someone making a move etc?

I had spent my entire radio career (11 years) in Maine. My wife had never lived outside of Maine, and had never been away from her family. So this move to Columbia was HUGE, not only professionally for me, but it was really hard to leave our true home, and our friends and family. We struggling emotionally with the decision, but I knew it was God. And the best part of me now? My wife says, ďEven if I had an opportunity to go back, Iím not sure I would.Ē That says it all to me!

When I was in talks with WMHK, I got guidance from my Program Director and (most of all) friend, Tim Collins. He and I had been through it all together, and his wisdom was invaluable. Our consultant, Chuck Finney, was an encouragement to me, and my Pastor/friend, Pencil Boone, was an amazing support for not only me but my family.

If you are looking to make a big move like we did, youíve got to get a group of people around you praying. When I wasnít sure if it was God or my desire, their prayers and wisdom helped us to understand Godís will for us. We took a leap of faith, and so far itís paid off greatly!

 

4. What are your initial impressions of the Columbia market?

Wow! I feel like Iím living on a different planet. Columbia, South Carolina could not be more different from Maine. Spiritually, itís a different world. Everyone listens here and they let you know it. Culturally, itís incredible the difference. The people are much more open and social. Iíve enjoyed everything about it.

 

5. Where does WMHK find new air talent?

Itís all about who you know, and if you have been in the Christian Music Industry for any amount of time, you know that Jeff Cruz knows EVERYONE! Honestly, personal relationships play a huge role in finding new talent.

 

6. What is your most memorable radio promotion?

It might have been the last event I did at SolutionFM / WHMK in Bangor. The week before I left, we did a ďDaddy / Daughter Date NightĒ at Tim Hortonís (restaurant). I canít tell you how blessed I was to be a part of watching these rough and tough dadís walk in to the restaurant hand-in-hand with their daughters, all dressed up and so excited to spend time with their daddy. It was a special night.

 

7. What are the biggest obstacles facing WMHK?

Time and Money.

There is never enough time in the day, week, month, year. So itís finding the things that deserve the most of your time and doing them the very best that you can.

I am blessed to be at a station that does not do Sharathons. After 11 years of doing way too many Sharathons, itís amazing to see how God has blessed WMHK for over 36 years without having to do a Pledge Drive. But that doesnít mean itís not tough financially. But God always provides.

 

8. There are still some big markets without a CCM station, why do you think that is?

Money.

But I will never understand it. I was in Bangor, Maine and in the parking lot of our station you could get 6+ Christian radio stations in your car. But in Boston, MA there is not 1. There are some great stations around Boston (Q99.7 to name one), but I will never understand why there are so many stations in Maine and not in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

 

9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?

Since I havenít been here that long, Iím going to say WMHK. Itís part of the reason that I am here. I also LOVE what WRBS and KTIS are doing. I really respect them.

 

10. Where do you see Joe Polek in 5 years?

Gosh. 5 months ago I couldnít have told you I would be in South Carolina, so I have NO CLUE. But Iíd like to say that I would be here at WMHK and serving God to the fullest with my family.

 

 


 

 

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