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Radio Interview

 

Barry Armstrong

General Manager /
Vice President

Spirit FM / Positive Alternative Radio, Inc.

Lynchburg

To contact Barry click here

 

Barry's "Beautiful History"
I walked by a little storefront FM station when I was about 15. I saw the reel-to-reel turning and somebody sitting at a console with lots of knobs and switches and giant green turntables. I was hooked. I worked part time in radio (at that station) in High School, and have been directly involved in TV and radio as a producer, talent (not so much), manager, fund-raiser ever since… and suddenly here I am, a grandfather and part of the old guard of Christian radio.

 

1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?

As a listener supported station we depend totally on the generosity of our listeners and local businesses. I believe if we were to get off course, our listeners would be quick to hold us accountable. We have a tremendous responsibility to operate with openness and integrity. A Scripture that drives me on this is II Corinthians 8:20-21 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.”

 

2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?

It has gotten better. The music is stronger than ever. There is a new generation of creative people making their presence felt. A really big change in the past five years that bodes well for our future is the establishment of Christian Music Broadcasters as the THE educational heart of Christian radio.

 

3. What do you think are the main characteristics of a Christian radio GM?

A successful manager will be driven by vision, passion and have the ability to motivate a team. You also need to be tough-minded at times, and keep the “business” side in order. Oh yeah, make good decisions, admit your mistakes, know your strengths and don’t pretend you have weaknesses. Your staff will be there for you if you are open with them. I wish I would have learned some of this stuff a lot sooner.

 

4. What ways or methods do you think work best to keep your staff motivated?

Latitude. I let them do their job. I encourage initiative and collaboration because I need this team to be highly engaged at what they do best. My primary job is casting vision, empowering the staff and solving problems – for them.

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?

Those that are fun for us, engaging and fun for the listener, and if they make money it’s a grand slam.

 

6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?

I think that in spite of their myriad of struggles, the record companies continue to bring us artistry, innovation, personality, and ministry. I am a big fan of the record companies. Together we succeed, or together we die. Oh, performance royalties? A disaster waiting to happen.

 

7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?

Thinking it’s done… believing the product is complete. If radio stops innovating, if we don’t continue to find new ways to engage and keep listeners, our economic model will crumble. At the pace of change today, that could happen quickly.

 

8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality?

In bigger markets with larger staffs, I suppose it is all about being a great content manager. My folks have to be great content managers, and great producers, and great promotions people, and great… you get the idea.

 

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

Joy FM, our Southern Gospel group, (primarily in North Carolina) is an innovator in that format. Their three personality morning show, their willingness to engage the listeners in ways that format has never done, make them stand out. They have taken creative risks to target a younger demo and it is working.

I really think the greatest innovation is probably taking place in smaller and medium markets. With smaller staffs and fewer resources, they really have to work hard to make great radio.

 

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

I could camp on this question for a while. Maybe I have been through too many 5 year cycles in my radio career and heard too many authoritative five year predictions -- that were just plain wrong. CBS News report, August 2005: Except for iPods, which threaten to crush radio, none of the new digital technologies has yet built the audience to challenge the 3,000 AM and FM radio stations in the United States…”

I remember when the cassette was going to kill radio. History tells us the TV was going to kill radio. (I am not old enough to remember that) The same CBS story quoted above said that satellite radio was another great threat to radio. Well, just look at us! Not only still here, but embracing technology, innovating, experimenting with social networks… and it looks like we will be around for a while. Check with me in five years.

 

 

 

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