The Christian Radio Homepage




Support HisAir.Net


Subscribe to
our newsletter







hare |

Radio Interview

Chris Kelly

Program Director, Operations Director,
Salem Cluster Portland




To contact Chris click here


Chris's Career Capsule
Started early, at 13 (long time ago in a galaxy far away).  Born and raised in the Tulsa Oklahoma area and up until my move to Portland, worked in Oklahoma City and Tulsa radio.  Spent almost 16 years with Cox Radio in Tulsa.  During that time, programmed Cox Radio’s only CCM station along with mainstream formats while there.  Been at it since the early 80’s.


1. What were your first impressions when you arrived in Portland?

Talk about a well-kept secret!  Portland is a beautiful city.  My exposure to Portland when I interviewed for the job was between the station and the airport, so I did not see much of Portland.  When I drove up from Oklahoma to report to work, I really was exposed to the beauty of the area.  The proximity of mountains, beaches, amidst the forests are just breathtaking.   For someone coming from the Bible belt, Portland has a very different culture.  That difference in culture presents both challenges and great opportunity.  The line “we’re not in Kansas anymore” would apply here.  Portland gets more than its fair share of rain, but the summers here are second to none.


2. What were the first changes you implemented?

When I arrived, great things were already in the works and I just continued with the mission of shaping the station to be more accessible to a wider audience.  In Portland, a lot of growth is coming from those who have never listened to our format before, and we want to make sure our content is relevant and resonates.  The big change after my arrival was the introduction of a new morning show.


3. Tell us about the KFIS morning Show, what makes it tick?

God was really smiling down on us when the opportunity came to put a familiar personality from the station’s recent past with a familiar personality from the market’s recent past.  Kat Taylor had been an everyday staple on the station for a long time, then backed away to start a family, and when we asked her if she was ready to come back, she was!  Nelson has been a Portland radio staple for over 20 years and was known as the crazy bad boy.  We saw some pretty funny looks from people when they were told we had hired Nelson.  Nelson had a big life change a couple of years ago and came to know the Lord by hearing Chuck Swindoll on the radio.  His testimony is powerful  and you can hear it here    Having someone with lots of experience in the format partnered up with someone who has never done the format has been a fun learning process for us all.  There are so many people in Portland who have listened to Nelson over the years that have a similar faith journey and having that in common has served as a great way to introduce the station to new people.  Nelson is the big kid, and Kat brings the tender heart of a mother to the show.  They each bring their unique perspectives to make it tick.


4. What are the 5 most important ways you keep your finger on the pulse of Portland?

Interesting way to phrase the question, but I’ll answer it this way.  Any tools we can have to find out what is important, what the needs are, and how we can contribute to making a difference in a listener’s life is useful.  We all have seen how important social media has become and has expanded our ability to have personal dialogue with our listeners.  Having deep and lasting relationships with the local church I think is very important.  Being where those listeners are that share a common belief in their faith and values is where we need to be.


5. Where do you find new talent for your station?

See #3.  Half way kidding, but sometimes they come your way when you least expect it.  On the serious side, this is something I think we are struggling with as an industry.  Our methods of finding our “farm team” and cultivating talent is so different than it used to be.  I find myself just listening around locally and on other stations and making mental notes. It would be great if every time you were looking for new talent, they were there waiting for you in a stack of resumes, but it usually does not happen that way.


6. What promotions have been successful at KFIS since you have been there?

I think the most effective promotions we do are the cumulative ones.  They are like chipping away at a rock until it cracks.  The Fish Family Name Game (thank you John Frost) and our Drive Thru Difference are good examples of those.  Anything we do that can have a relevant viral element to it I deem a success.


7. What are the biggest obstacles facing KFIS in Portland?

I like the word “challenge”, I think given the demographic makeup of Portland, we have to work harder than most markets to let people know we are here, you are going to like what you hear, and we are just like you warts and all.   No matter what your theological leaning is, we are here to give encouragement and to deliver the message of hope and love that can be found in Christ. 


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

Good question, don’t have an answer, but we all know it takes a big commitment both spiritually and monetarily for it to sustain itself.     


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

While this is not an exclusive list, I watch KCMS in Seattle.   Being in the Northwest, a lot of similarities exist, and Matt and his staff do a great job.  WPOZ is another one I observe from a far.  Inside the Salem family, LA, Atlanta, & Dallas are doing some great things too.


10. Where do you see Christian Radio in 5 years?

It sure seems as each day passes, what we offer as a format is needed more and more.  I hope we constantly evaluate what we are doing and 5 years down the road are making an even bigger impact.  Find out what the listeners want and give it to them, it is my hope more and more adopt this philosophy in the next 5 years.


Previous Interviews


© Copyright HisAir.Net