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Radio Interview
 

Matt Pelishek

Production Director/air personality

KAXL

Bakersfield

 

To contact Matt click here

 

Matt's Career Capsule
I’ve only been working in radio full time for the last 6 years, but I’ve been involved in radio for 12 years.  I started as a weekend announcer at KNDR in Mandan, ND in 2001.  I had no air check and no experience, but they auditioned me by reading a couple news stories then deemed me somewhat competent to press buttons on the sound board, so I got the job.  From there I went on to Northwestern College (now University) in St. Paul MN where I got very involved at the student station WVOE, interned at KTIS, and graduated with a degree in broadcasting.  The following job hunt brought me out there to KAXL in Bakersfield.


 

1. Tell us about KAXL and your role there?

KAXL is an AC station, and we are fully local.  While my official role is host and production director, like most stations, I have my hands in several other things as well.  I currently do all our promotions, social media, and website.

 

2. How do you build on the KAXL heritage in Bakersfield?

Being a local station has been such a big advantage for us.  We are able to be at many local events, but more than that, we have been able to engage the community.  We have tried to really be a resource for families locally by offering things like our summer bucket list which was easy and free things they could do as a family, or our current school prayer initiative which gives different themes of things to pray for when it comes to our students and schools, as well as ways to bless and encourage the teachers.  I think these are the things that will really build the KAXL heritage.

 

3. Tell us about your afternoon show?

Over a year ago I invited a well-known local weatherman named Aaron Perlman to join me and we launched the Afternoon Joy Ride.  In the spirit of trying something different, we basically have a morning show format in the afternoon.  Our goal is to inject joy into the daily routine of the listeners.  The response has blown me away.  It is also really humbling.  We are very much a continued work in progress, but the station ratings have never been higher. 

 

4. What are the best variables that make a KAXL promotion?

The biggest consideration is if the promotion in some way connects to a need or desire of the community.  Trying to make sure things are outward focused, not inward.  I also hear that dropping turkeys from a helicopter works really well.

 

5. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?

Probably robots.  I think they are taking over.  I don’t think I could give a specific answer.  I think the best talent in any ministry comes from unexpected places.  God is funny how he likes to use people like that.

 

6. What is your most memorable KAXL promotion so far?

My personal favorite promotion came out of a problem.  We had two big concerts scheduled on the same night.  One was the Newsboys, one was a reunion tour that brought back big names like Wayne Watson, Twila Paris, etc.  I ended up creating a ‘Current or Classic’ promo where people could choose which show they wanted when they won a contest, and each one had a VIP drawing.  I had to work the ‘classic’ concert, and kept making remarks on and off stage about the song ‘another time, another place.’ I do not think Wayne Watson was happy with me.

 

7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?

One of the big ones I focus on is what separates us from just pulling up an AC station on Pandora.  So there are 2 things.  First, are we an option alongside Pandora?  If we don’t have an easily accessible online stream or an app just as easily accessible, we are already losing, even if you are 10 times better.  Second, offer what the streaming services cannot.  For us, the local content is a big part of that.  The other is engaging the listener.  Whether that is a fun on-air game, or inviting listener testimonies, it gives a connection to the station that Pandora and Spotify simply cannot.  We know people come for the music, but there has to be something more that gives them a reason to choose you over tapping that app with the big ‘P’ on their phone.

Let me add one more.  While this has changed a lot, it seems a lot of stations out there seem to be afraid of having too much fun.  There is balance in everything, but it still surprises me when I tune in and hear a station just kind of tossing Bible verses out, often in a way that sounds more like a eulogy.  That fluff of Christian culture that caters to itself rather than reaching beyond that to get the attention of people who don’t normally listen to Christian music.  Of course we have our specific demographic, but focusing that programming on the demographic person, not the demographic culture.  Can a single mom who has felt rejected by a church or never stepped inside of one feel just as welcomed as a single mom is a Sunday School teacher?

 

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

Why do you ask such hard questions, Ted?  I’m certainly not as experienced as many or most readers of His Air, but perhaps it is in part due to the fact that it is easier/safer to establish themselves in already conservative areas. I’m totally shooting in the dark here, and may be totally off base, but in some cases putting stations in cities that are possibly more liberal is just more difficult.  If that is any part of the case, perhaps it is also the areas most needed, and is a matter of programming to that kind of audience rather than a more conservative one.  You may want to run this one by George Barna, he would be more helpful than me.

 

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

There are a lot of stations and people I have great respect for.  To me personally, I feel like what Air 1 has done with their afternoons is brilliant.  The only reason I say ‘what Air 1 has done’ rather than ‘what Brant Hansen has done’ is because the station has given him the freedom to do what he does (which is…brilliant).  So often I hear from colleagues in the industry who feel very limited in what they can say and do, to the point of completely muting their personality.  When you give a host the ability to be themselves and to try new things, you have given the audience someone they will connect with so much more, and you give the host a chance to really shine.

 

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

I told you, robots. 

I see Christian radio becoming more interactive than it ever has been.  We all know about the changing industry, and keeping up can be hard, as well as expensive.  It may be that not every station can afford to have an innovative app developed for them, but they can sure make themselves as connected to their listener as possible.  So much so that other media isn’t just a fun extra, it is a built in part of the whole experience.  Things like not just hosting an interview, but taking listeners backstage or on the tour bus with a live stream to your website from an iPad; karaoke competitions on 15 second instagram videos; live tweeting special events.  All these things will become essential in not just keeping up with the changes, but connecting us with listeners even when they are not listening.

 

 

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