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Feature Interview

Dick Whitworth

Assistant Vice-President for Media for the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, MN and General Manager of Faith Radio.

St Paul/Minneapolis

To contact Dick click here

 


Dick's Career Capsule

It is hard for me to believe but I just celebrated 40 years in radio and all but one year of that time has been in Christian radio. (28 ˝ years with New Life Media in Illinois and the last 11 years with Northwestern Media.)  Suffice it to say, I remember turntables, reel to reel recorders, editing tape with razor blades and CCM Magazine.


 

1. Tell us what's new at Northwestern Media, news, changes, expansion... etc.?

Like everyone else, we continue to work hard on improving our on-air product to better serve our listeners.

We are also investing time and energy into developing original content for our talk/teaching stations (Faith Radio); much of which is then repurposed to our websites in the form of blog posts and audio.  Lifestyle interviews are edited even further and provided to our music stations as show prep in the form of 30-45 second cuts.

New Prayerworks and Hands & Feet apps

Life 88.5 in Kansas City just completed its second year on the air as a part of the Northwestern Media family.

 

2. What is the best programming advice you've been given? The worst?

The best:  “Dick, what are you trying to accomplish?” – John Frost.

The worst: “You can reach more people with a wider variety of songs and styles!”

               

3. Regarding your career, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud and grateful for my wife Jayne and our family - Alex and Jodi.  Their love and support mean everything.

I am also grateful to have been a small part in watching what God has done in and through Christian radio over the last 40 years.  During that time, I have been blessed to have worked with some of the best people on the planet; their lives and passion for Jesus have encouraged me in my own walk with Him.

 

4. What is the ONE thing you must have every day to do your job?

Coffee and a computer; two things!

 

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

It’s a great question and there are no easy answers because for most of us -we are looking for more than just air talent.  Today’s best on-air content creators also write blog posts, shoot video and are proficient in other forms of social/digital media.  TV news departments call them “multi-media journalists.”   

As some have already stated in other interviews they are all around us and yet the pipeline to radio is seemingly empty!

 

6. Do you feel syndication is good or bad for Christian radio?

“What are you trying to accomplish?”

When it makes sense, I am an advocate of local/regional media ministry!  In other words, when the on-air product is done well; being in the community is a plus; but if the on-air product is done poorly, being local is of little or no value.  

Syndication allows stations with smaller budgets to sound bigger than they really are; essentially making syndication a necessity for many of us!

 

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

As you’ve indicated in one of your earlier questions - finding new talent is a challenge. 

I also think we, as an industry, may not be moving fast enough to effectively connect with Millennials.  Yes we have streaming apps and web sites with “stuff” on them; (usually concert ads, sponsors and give now buttons), but are we giving them reasons to connect and/or interact with our ministries beyond the music?  In my opinion, this question becomes increasingly relevant as music distribution choices increase and “radio personalities” decrease.   It’s not too late too late or hopeless, but “times they are a-changing!” (Bob Dylan; 1964) And the Millennials say, “who?”  And I say, exactly! 

 

8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

Influencer: Jack Buck, baseball and football hall of fame announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals was my first introduction to the power of a compelling personality through radio.  I enjoyed listening to him on AM 1120 KMOX, The Voice of St. Louis - as he called games for the Cards for nearly half a century.  He made it sound easy and clearly he was having the time of his life! 

One night listening to Jack call a Cards/Mets game at Shea Stadium, a jet flew overhead completing drowning him out.  As soon as the jet passed, Jack quipped, “folks, there’s goes another load of lost luggage!”  He was one of the best!

Heroes: Honestly, I am increasingly proud of the men and women who serve faithfully in small markets where they wear multiple hats and receive little or no industry recognition.  Success in the scriptures is defined by being faithful; I Corinthians 4:2.

 

 

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