Todd was very fortunate to gain
tremendous knowledge from many smart people along the way as
well as failing, learning, growing at WNLT-FM Cincinnati, WAY-FM
Fort Myers, 95.5 the Fish in Cleveland and now celebrating
almost seven years at 104.9 the River (WCVO-FM) in Columbus,
Tell us about WCVO (a little history, etc)?
WCVO-FM went on the air in 1972 serving the Central Ohio area.
It was like most Christian radio stations for many years;
playing a hybrid of many music formats and teaching/preaching
segments. In 2004, the team here, led by Dan Baughman, Tate
Luck, Mike Russell and others (along with consultant John frost)
birthed 104.9 the River. At the time there were 33k listening
to WCVO, and now almost nine years later there are over 225k
listening to 104.9 the River.
2. How did your title "Chief Creative Officer"
About two years ago it was apparent that my attention was needed
more off of the air than on the air. So, we set out on a
mission promoting the afternoon show (Mary & Josh) to mornings,
hired a Program Director with more experience than me, and began
transforming the thinking of everything we do to a BRAND
perspective…not just simply a radio station. We invested in
mornings, music and marketing to not just grow audience but to
strive to maintain consistent ratings. Although the job title
idea came from K-Love, my job description has been changing and
growing over the past two years. In a nut shell, my (and my
team’s) responsibilities are to protect our brand (audibly,
digitally and visually) and to bring cross-functional teams
(programming, promotions, community outreach, sales, donor
initiatives, web, marketing) in the building to pull the same
direction with the same focused energy – easier said than done
sometimes (insert smiley face here).
3. WCVO has received some very strong PPM
numbers recently, what do you think is the main factors for
Everyone on the team is responsible for ratings success or
failure. Absolutely everyone has to have a servant’s heart for
each other, our clients, our listeners, our donors and our
future listeners. First impressions are a big deal to us.
Creating WOW, memorable experiences are a must. Our culture
demands that we live by our core values. The leadership team
expects a total commitment to serving AND having fun here.
We’ve hired smarter people than ourselves so that we can grow
beyond our dreams. We are free to fail, make mistakes and learn
from them. I truly believe that God is blessing our devotion to
Him and our local mission. It’s so exciting and rewarding for
the team of people here to see ratings numbers that are 1st,
2nd, 3rd in our BIG target demo and 1st
in every day part in our bulls eye target demo.
4. How does WCVO use social media effectively?
Well, I’m not sure how effective we are at social media, but I
can tell you that we’re striving to be the best. We do have a
designated (AWESOME) Queen of Social Media who interacts, posts,
answers questions and helps grow our presence on Facebook,
Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube. She lives to serve
and takes her job with her 24/7. Also, at every event we use
HootSuite to post pics and content to every social media
platform. This year we ripped out an audio studio and made it a
video studio so that we can grow our behind-the-scenes, unique
5. Where do you find new talent for your station
try our best to network with a few colleges and universities,
interview thoroughly and hire unique, talented individuals THEN
train them to help them realize that true potential. One
success story is Mary O’Brien who started out in part-time
promotions and then learned, trained and developed into a star
on the morning show.
6. What WCVO promotions have been most
memorable since you have been there?
Our Brand Development (programming), Community Relations
(promotions) and Sales teams have brainstormed to create
promotions that benefit both the sales client and the listener
(ratings). Our annual calendar has been filled with many A Tier
promotions that we’re now planning about a year and a half in
advance either to make our current promotions better or to dump
and replace existing promotions. Many of our A Tier promotions
involve “people helping people” opportunities for listeners to
win something for a friend or someone in need (flights home for
the holidays, paying for winter heating bills, finishing college
with adult education). Our big summertime promotion is our
104.9 the River Vacation Bible School Tour where listeners can
sign-up their churches to have our promotions team stop by the
end of VBS with ice cream and River goodies with our River Dog
mascot. The client sponsor, who’s a local dentist, is also a
Christian magician who weaves sleight of hand with the gospel –
he also attends about one stop per week with us.
7. In what areas do you feel the radio/record
label relationship could improve?
Open communication. I’ve worked at a few places that the radio
station held in deep secrecy the results of their music
testing. Why? We have nothing to hide here, so we invited one
record label to come to Columbus and be a part of our bi-weekly
music meeting. I believe that they walked away with a better
idea of why we do what we do, and we left understanding their
goals, research and priorities. Now, we just need to get those
two areas to match up more than not. That’s easier said than
done. Another area to consider is the quality of audio coming
from record labels. We are having a difficult time sounding as
good as or better than the mainstream competition across the
radio dial. That’s mainly due to over compressed singles. I
hope that one day all record companies will make available
uncompressed singles available to radio stations.
8. There are still some big markets without a
CCM station, why do you think that is?
Because EMF hasn’t purchased one there! LOL. All kidding
aside, Christian radio is an expensive investment and needs to
be highly competitive if the desire is to be successful. The
financial risk/reward is very great even considering the
potential lives that could be touched.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do
you consider as innovators today?
many people have asked me about why they don’t see us at
Momentum. Here’s why. During the past few years, we’ve
designated our travel budget to visiting people at radio
stations that have had success (we haven’t been able to go
every successful station). A few years ago we spent two
days with Scott Valentine and his team at KCMS – we walked away
with some great programming & music strategies as well as the
important relationship between programming and sales. Since
Alan Mason consults us (and has been a major contributor to our
success), we’ve made several trips to K-Love. They’ve been
willing and gracious hosts and have given us the opportunity to
take back ideas about fundraising and donor relationships, the
importance of having a team pastor on staff, and leadership and
role development for some of our programming/on-air team. (Side
note: if your radio station didn’t end up here it doesn’t mean
that I don’t think highly of you. There are many incredible
individuals and stations that we “check out” and admire from a
distance AND can only hope to become like some day). We
also hope to be true innovators and unique catalysts in/for our
10. Where do you see Todd Stach in 5 years?
The simple answer is where God wants me. I spent much of my
early career making mistakes and searching for that next big
opportunity, meanwhile my wife and kids moved from state to
state (although I think it’s cool to have all three kids born in
different cities – my wife – NOT so much probably). Honestly, I
can’t imagine leaving where I am now. Through pain,
perseverance, trial and error, team building, establishing core
values, having crucial conversations, and making results more
important than intentions – well – God has blessed us with an
amazing culture with an UNBELIEVABLE team of men and women who
“get it”. This is MY home away from home. I absolutely love
coming to work. It’s not easy every day, but through the
difficult times we bond tighter. Our President/CEO Dan Baughman
always uses the analogy of climbing a mountain: the climb gets
more difficult the higher you climb – but the higher you climb
the more perspective you can see around you. Sometimes you
can’t see the big picture where you are, but just keep climbing
because your view will become much clearer the higher you