The Christian Radio Homepage

 

 

Radio Interview
 

 

 

Bill Martin

 

Morning Air Personality

 

WJIS (The Joy FM)

 

Sarasota
 

 

     

To contact Bill click here


 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill's Career Capsule
Homegrown, Bill has been with one station, The JOY FM in Central/Southwest Florida his entire professional life, 25 years. He’s worked every daypart, served variously as PD, MD, Production Manager, and Director of Operations, been fired once, quit twice, and served on the Board of Directors. Currently, his job is stable and secure (as far as he knows).  During his two-plus decades in radio, Bill has brought five children into the world (with a little help from his wife Kimberly), earned an academic Masters degree at seminary and taught theology and philosophy at his church and the local state college. He writes poetry too, but we try not to talk about that. Much. Website: www.themorningcruise.com

 

1. How does a Christian radio morning show set itself apart from mainstream competitors?

I don’t think we have to work very hard to set ourselves apart. In fact, in many ways I don’t want it to be obvious to someone that they’ve stumbled across “Christian Radio,” as in outdated jingles, sappy lines, personalities that aren’t real and guilt-laden promotions. If we’re for-real, if we live and work and struggle and fail, and yet we find Christ in the same world as our listeners, the difference will make itself known… and the acquired taste will be minimized.

 

2. How has your morning show evolved or changed over the last few years?

We’ve moved from a two-person to a three-person morning show. A lot of people in this industry know my partners, Dave Cruse and Carmen Brown. Dave and I worked together for years as a two-man show. Carmen came to The JOY FM as Promotions Director six years ago, but when she joined us for promo stuff on the air, the synergy was amazing. With help from Daniel Anstandig, we repackaged and re-imaged “The Morning Cruise” as TMC “with Dave, Bill and Carmen.” The evolution of the show from that point was more organic than planned. It grew out of the relationships we have with each other and with the listening community.

 

3. What morning show topics seem to be hot right now?

I can’t stress highly enough the word “relationship.” What’s hot for us grows out of three relationships: 1) with our community, 2) with artists and 3) with each other. That’s the DNA of our show. So, when two Tampa police officers are gunned down at three in the morning on a routine traffic stop, we’re reacting to it, processing it WITH our community, live on the show. We’re expressing anger, fear, compassion, tears, and hope. On the other side, when Carmen spills coffee on her white tank top on the way to work, we have a field day with that. We blow it up on the air and on Facebook. Listeners laugh at/with us in the midst of our trying to make it through any ordinary day. We treat artists like friends, inviting them to join us on videos, special events, etc. Because of this, we don’t have to search for hot topics and trends. We’re doing life on the air, every day, as a reflector of our larger community, creating a community you want to belong to. 

 

4. What is the advantage of being live and local such as your show is?

We are a hybrid of local and network because of the configuration of The JOY FM terrestrial and because of new media. Right now, we have several thousand folks listening to the station on phone apps and about a thousand more streaming us online, daily. We don’t program to them, but we’re aware they are there, and that the new media audience is growing! And we serve a terrestrial audience that covers three distinct media markets and supports the station financially as a local station. One way we make this work is by getting off our duffs and going into those markets for concerts, live shows, promotions, benefit drives, etc. For one week each summer, we take an artist to diners in nine different cities for live shows. We call it “The Summer Cruise.” It reaches about 4,000 enthusiastic listeners, one at a time! Again, it’s about relationships.

 

5.  What kind of promotions work best for Christian morning shows?

For us, promotions that involve either of two ingredients work best: 1) Getting outside the building where we can be visible and meet our community, or 2) Giving our community a project they can buy into emotionally with us and make an impact. We’ve done this with Carmen’s shoe drive for orphans in Latin America. We’ve also done it with serious efforts to help homeless ministries in the area. You wouldn’t believe the level of enthusiasm, cross-talk, advertising and image-building that can come when you deputize listeners to make a difference in their community and when they believe they can really do something important! That works better than any giveaway or hype-promotion I’ve ever seen. But it has to be genuine, make a big impact, and you have to get the whole station, on-air and off, emotionally invested in it.

 

6. Do you use any show prep services… tell why or why not?

We subscribe to InterPrep, which we faithfully print and keep handy. Most mornings we don’t use it, because our show is planned by life. Still, I’m a structure-guy. I like knowing what’s going on in the world around me, having a few things in my back pocket. If I use anything, I treat it like a springboard, like somebody brought up this topic and now I can respond to it honestly (if that response is worth taking to the air). Absolutely no rip-and-read.

 

7. What are the biggest obstacles facing Christian morning radio today?

Visibility is, and always has been a big obstacle. We don’t get reinforcement for our show or our artists from other media, unless we are deliberately advertising or have made a big splash somewhere. So, word of mouth, generated by all the things I’ve been saying, becomes real important. Another challenge involves all the issues revolving around the changes in media and the culture of radio. For example, I can have the biggest talents in Christian radio in my market via satellite networks, internet or my smart phone. That does two things: 1) increases competition for local stations, and 2) decreases the talent pool. I don’t see any way to circumvent these realities. We have to step up our game, face the changes just like Nashville does, and find a way to win in this environment. No whining. No excuses.

 

8.  Do you think there will be more or less morning syndication in the future of Christian radio?

More. Why do I want a morning show where the entertainment value is so-so, when I can have Carmen Brown or Brant Hansen in my car, thanks to new media. On the other hand, more competition is a good thing. How are we going to compete in this new environment? Let’s think bigger and provide some competition for those dominating shows and personalities.

 

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

So many shows have become excellent at working with a particular, formulaic approach that, in my opinion, makes them very successful at cume-building, but not very impactful or deeply related to their audiences. As an industry, we don’t have too many going outside those models with success to show for it. I think the guys and girls keeping it real with their audiences, not limiting themselves to bits and formulas, and yet are entertaining (realizing they are a persona as well as a person), are worthy of note. This answer is biased, because it’s what we’re trying to do, and some in this industry consider us innovators. I think Brant is leading in this way, but you already know that! I also respect Lisa Williams for carrying the torch of being personal and real with her audience, and our afternoon guy, Jayar, is doing a top-quality show.

 

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

That will be determined by the new realities, demands and opportunities of the continually developing new media. We’ll definitely have to be more portable, more on-demand. But will dayparts really stick in that new environment? Already, afternoon share numbers (PPM) have been overtaking mornings in several markets. Ryan Seacrest’s morning show is on in the afternoon in Tampa. The borders of geography and daypart may erode to little more than a marketing foil.  I think every show needs to think about being “a morning show” in terms of entertainment. And for Christian radio, delivering the uniquely situated spiritual dimensions of life in the real world in this new environment will be both a challenge and a great opportunity.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Previous Interviews

 

 

 

 

© Copyright HisAir.Net