Bill’s early career included
working as a general market air personality at KFYE-FM in Fresno
(AC), KPLZ in Seattle (Hot AC), KSDO-FM San Diego (CHR), and KFI
in Los Angeles (AC). He then co-hosted the “Bill & Sylvia
Morning Show” at KBIG-FM in Los Angeles (AC) for several years.
While working in LA radio he hosted Westwood One’s syndicated
“National Music Survey” and did voice-over work in Hollywood.
After five years at KBIG, Bill left the station to enter
graduate school. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology
and worked with low-income children and families at an LA County
community mental health clinic. He then moved to Colorado to
take a position with Focus on the Family. Bill hosted their
“Weekend Magazine” program, the “Family Minute” radio feature
and the “Family Insights” TV news segments. He also served as
Dr. James Dobson’s primary fill-in host on the Focus on the
Family daily broadcast. Bill joined KSBJ in Houston in 2012 and
co-hosts their morning show with PD Susan O’Donnell. He also
hosts a Saturday talk/interview program for KTIS-AM in
Minneapolis and Northwestern College’s Faith Radio Network.
Tell us about how you ended up at KSBJ (a little
history, etc) ?
Although I worked in general market radio for
many years, I’m fairly new to the CCM format. Last year Chuck
Pryor was kind enough to ask me to do some fill-in work on
K-LOVE, and I filled in for Scott & Kelli for a week while they
were on the “Friends and Family Cruise.” I had a blast
interacting with K-LOVE’s ten billion listeners and playing with
the VoxPro. When Susan O’Donnell began searching for a new
morning co-host, I threw my hat in the ring. Susan was shocked
to learn that I had been a general market music jock in my
“pre-Focus” days and that I can sing several Tom Petty songs
from memory. After a thorough background check, KSBJ was
willing to look past my ties with 80’s rockers and I joined the
staff in May.
2. How was the transition from Focus on the
Family to the morning show at KSBJ?
Like many of my colleagues who have backgrounds
in general market radio, I absolutely LOVE working in CCM.
There is a meaning and purpose to our work that can be difficult
to find in the secular broadcasting world. As Chris Lemke at
WCSG has so thoughtfully stated, the primary role of a Christian
radio air personality is to communicate and model what it means
to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that God will
help me accomplish that as I enter the studio at 5:00 AM each
morning. As for the transition from Focus on the Family, I have
a great love for that ministry but it has been fun getting back
to my live radio roots. I’m still utilizing my training as a
psychologist through public speaking and producing short-form
radio features on faith and family. Interestingly, KSBJ had
been airing several of the programs I hosted for Focus, so their
audience was familiar with my name and voice. However, some
listeners have been stunned to hear “Dr. Maier” from Focus on
the Family doing wacky character voices and cutting up with
Susan O’Donnell. I like messing with their minds.
3. What first got your attention about the
Houston market when you arrived?
Houston is a big city with the heart of a small
town. The people here tend to be very gracious and welcoming,
and they truly care about those in need. KSBJ’s listeners in
particular are generous with their money and their time. There
are also a lot of bugs here. Flying, crawling, jumping,
pole-vaulting bugs. We didn’t have those in Colorado.
4. How do you keep in touch with your market on a
“Live and Local” isn’t just a slogan for us; we
really live it. We’re out in the community every week through
our Brown Bag concerts, Prayer Stations, and our incredible
“KSBJ on the Street” team. You will find us at just about every
major event in Houston, and we’ve built partnerships with dozens
of local churches and community service organizations. We have
an ongoing relationship with several Houston TV stations, and
our morning traffic reporter also does traffic for the local NBC
affiliate. This city is CRAZY about Houston Texans football,
and the Texans’ official “ambassador” (a former player) is a
weekly guest on our morning show.
5. Where do you find show prep?
Susan O’Donnell is constantly challenging us to
be real, relevant and topical, and to focus on things that are
likely to be “top of mind” for our target listener. We hold
regular brainstorming sessions at our programming meetings.
Susan writes the words “Where is She?” on a white board and we
generate a list of topics that can be leveraged for content.
For example, last June the list included things like “keeping
cool,” “vacation/road trips,” “keeping the kids busy during
summer break,” “Fathers Day,” “graduation,” “Vacation Bible
School,” etc. We also search the local media for prep and I
enjoy using Jason Sharp’s “Positive Prep”—he always comes up
with fun, engaging lifestyle content.
6. What promotions have been successful at KSBJ
since you have been there?
The week I joined the station Susan and I emceed
KSBJ’s biggest concert to date. We welcomed 16,000 listeners to
hear Casting Crowns and Matthew West perform at a beautiful
outdoor amphitheater in The Woodlands, TX. During the summer we
partnered with the Houston-area YMCA’s for “Operation
Backpack.” We were able to collect backpacks and school
supplies for over 50,000 underprivileged kids. Another big
event for us was the “Wings Over Houston” air show. Susan was
hoping to pilot an F-15, but I convinced the Air Force that was
a bad idea.
7. What are the biggest obstacles facing KSBJ?
Like many major metropolitan areas, Houston faces
numerous social problems. Crime, poverty and illegal
immigration are a reality here, and unfortunately the city is a
hub for human trafficking. Our general manager (Tim McDermott)
and board of directors feel called to be part of the solution by
encouraging KSBJ’s listeners and local churches to make a
difference in this city.
8. There are still some big markets without a CCM
station, why do you think that is?
Certainly lack of available signals and startup
costs are significant barrier. However, in those markets
without a local CCM station, it would be exciting to see a group
of churches and/or Christian entrepreneurs join together to
bring Christian music and the message of God’s love to their
city. I personally would like to see a CCM station in Boston,
bringing light and hope to a fairly dark corner of our country.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
I love what KTIS-FM is doing in the Twin Cities.
They are challenging their listeners to put their faith into
action, sharing Christ with those who don’t know Him and finding
tangible ways to serve in their local community. Check out
their “Helping to Make a Difference” video on YouTube! I also
appreciate the work of my friends Ty McFarland and Jerry Woods
at WGTS in Washington, DC. They are passionate about reaching
our nation’s capital for Christ. Their staff is currently
grieving the loss of their wonderful GM, John Konrad, so please
keep them in your prayers.
10. Where do you see Bill Maier in 5 years?
Proverbs 16:9 tells us that we may make our
plans, but the Lord directs our steps. I confess to being an
enthusiastic “planner,” but my desire is to be more open to
God’s leading in my life. Regardless of where my professional
path takes me, I pray that I will become a more loving husband
and father, a better friend, and a more winsome, effective
ambassador for Christ.