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Bob Taylor

Programming/Operations Specialist WTBQ/Warwick, NY

Host: Positive Sounds weekly CCM program on WTBQ

Part-time On Air:  WAWZ/New York (STAR 99.1)

 

     

To contact Bob click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob's Career Capsule
Bob Taylor’s 20 plus year radio career includes some of New York's top radio stations. In the late 1980s Bob worked at WHTZ (Z-100) as a remix producer and later moved to WQHT (Hot 97) in a similar role. His time at these two stations, lead to various programming positions at radio stations in Fresno, CA and the New York area suburbs including WVIP-FM. In 1994 Bob was hired to help put WTBQ in Orange County, NY back on the air.

In 1998 Bob was recruited as VP of Programming and Operations for the NBG Radio Network in Portland, Oregon. In 2000, he was again recruited to help start Sirius Satellite Radio in New York and was part of the team responsible for the creation of 12 music channels.

In 2005 Bob was recruited as Program Director for two top rated Clear Channel stations in Binghamton, New York.
Bob is currently Programming/Operations Specialist with WTBQ in Warwick, NY and has been at this position since 2008 and as well as Weekends/Fill-in On Air: STAR 99.1-WAWZ. Bob has a BA in Broadcast Management from Ramapo College where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He's a ham radio operator, a RCS Selector “Power User” and serves on the Board and Agenda Committees for the Conclave Radio Learning Conference, held every summer in Minneapolis.

 

 

1. Tell us about WTBQ and your market?

WTBQ is located about 50 miles from New York City, and is in the Newburgh-Middletown, NY market, ranked #137 and is soon to be part of the new Hudson Valley #38 market. We are also part of the New York City Market and encode in PPM. My point is, not only do we compete with the local radio stations from the Hudson Valley, we also compete with radio stations from New York City. It is not unusual for us to run a ratings ranker and see WABC, or WLTW from New York as the station listed right below us. WTBQ is successful by offering local programming and conservative talk from the likes of Neal Boortz and female targeted adult music programming that includes the John Tesh Radio Show.

 

2. Tell us about your program "Positive Sounds" and how it was conceived?

Warwick, NY is in Orange County, a very scenic place. God’s eye for beauty and His hand for crafting it are seen at work here in the rolling hills and valleys with farms and very black dirt that is great for growing onions. Many who were successful in the financial sector built large custom homes in the area and now the area is considered a bedroom community to New York City. At the same time, we have heard stories of many who lost their jobs due to the collapse of the financial sector and could use the hope and encouragement that is found though CCM and a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew from my own experiences, that when my relationship with Jesus became stronger, any setbacks were quickly resolved and God brought me through. God placed on my heart to spread His word through a local CCM program. After a discussion with Frank Truatt, the station’s owner, who really liked the idea and likes CCM music, it was decided to make the show two hours, instead of our original idea of a “one hour test” and we felt Saturday nights were the best place.

I am very into research, and the music featured on the program is not “Bob’s favorite songs” it is what the research shows as the best testing CCM songs that audiences like. The music will seem very basic to those of us in AC-CCM, with lots of recurrents and gold, but for the listener, it is one strong song after the next. We have artist interviews from time to time and heavy up on the talking about local events in the area, especially if they are sponsored by a church or ministry. Of course I am not afraid to talk about the benefits of a personal relationship with Jesus and remind listeners that God is on their side no matter their situation. I just speak the truth.

 

3. How does a "Christian" music program fit into a secular format?

Every time I am asked about Positive Sounds, the first question is usually regarding WTBQ and how it is on a secular station. Many radio folks said (and still say) it won’t work on a non-Christian station, but it does. Here’s why:

I recall when I was a PD at a Hot AC secular station, and when we see a slight drop in audience, I also noticed that the listeners were not going to the Country station or the other AC or any other commercial/secular station the market. This intrigued me, so I took a look at the numbers for the CCM station in our market and every time we saw a loss in audience, they realized a gain. I started listening to them more often in my office and quickly realized that the textures of the music are very similar to Hot AC. In fact, I recall on a couple of occasions having other staff members ask “when did we start playing this song? This sounds good, who is it?” They were thinking I was listening to our Hot AC station, when it was actually the CCM station. I knew my listeners were also listening to CCM, so I quickly learned there is an appeal from a secular audience to listen to “religious” CCM music. Many secular programmers will tell you differently.

If a tight tested list is stuck to, even though most of the music is unfamiliar to a secular audience, they are still the strongest songs in the CCM format. The production values of the songs are excellent. While the lyrics are amazing, the recordings and music have listeners commenting about how great the songs are. In just one rating book Positive Sounds ranked number two with women and number one with men. Previously we had seen instances where this same Saturday night daypart had rating books where we were below the line. While it would be easy for me to take the credit for the success, but I know it is God at work and what I’m doing must be pleasing Him and I am seeing His favor. That’s really encouraging!

 

4. What is the thought process you use when putting a new program together?

After I pray and ask for God’s guidance. I listen to music from the list and also see if anything needs to be added (we are very slow on new adds) or rested. This show is not about breaking new music. I am sensitive to tempo and I try to keep away from too many slow tempo songs back to back. An up-tempo song helps create a mood when starting off a music set. Each week there is a featured bible verse to offer hope and encouragement and to remind the listener that God is there for them and loves them, no matter what they are going through or what they did. The goal from a radio standpoint is to bring it back to the basics while evoking emotion and being engaging.

 

5. Some Christian programmers say it's hard for them to fill openings with qualified talent, what would you suggest to them?

What we do in Christian radio requires a very special, dedicated person. While I understand that it is not easy to find someone who has what I consider two “must have” skill sets: A person who is strong in their walk with Christ and they're actions demonstrate their faith, but also is a great engaging radio talent that is audience focused. Christian radio is all about serving others and it is tough to find someone who says they can and will do all of this, and then actually do it on-air. I suggest programmers be a little more open minded and pray for the right person to apply for their opening. God will respond, if they ask.

 

6. What obstacles have you come across when trying to land at Christian radio fulltime?

I have been blessed by God with the opportunities I have been given at both WTBQ and at STAR 99.1. I enjoy being a part of both stations and I also know God has opened the door for me. I have said on many occasions, that every time I walk up the steps to the studios and offices of STAR 99.1, I still can’t believe that God has given me this opportunity. I feel the same way about WTBQ, Positive Sounds, the show’s ratings, and the recent Communicator award the show received. I also know God has placed it on my heart to work fulltime in Christian Radio, in a Programming role such as a PD or OM, as well as on air, and to use the talents and gifts He gave me in radio to spread His word. God has put on my heart to seek a full time position in Christian Radio..

I have met with many folks in Christian radio who have dedicated their entire lives to serving Him. I admire those people. I have met many great Christian Radio folks at industry gatherings like NRB and CMB’s Momentum. At the same time, to be totally candid, there are a few folks that have not been too encouraging to me. I have been told “Christian Radio is tough to break into.” I think it’s safe to say behavior like this is not pleasing to God and He does not bless it. It makes me sad to even talk about this. I feel everyone is welcomed to His table, or in this case His radio station. My guess is that they are a little distant since I’m from the “other” (secular) side. This was totally a surprise as I thought on the most basic level one believer would welcome the other. The fact we are both radio geeks, should also factor in, but this has not always been the case. Maybe this attitude is why some Christian programmers say it's hard for them to fill openings with qualified talent, the question you asked previously. 

In my job discussions, some managers are concerned that I do not currently work full time at a Christian station. My dedication to Christian Radio and Jesus is full time and when all my other skills sets in music research, music scheduling, imaging, technical operations, production, marketing and coaching talent are factored in, I am really not convinced that this is a valid concern. Also, I would think my weekend on-air position at STAR 99.1, where some days I’m filling in on Afternoon Drive, would count for something and I’m far beyond the “breaking into” stage.
The other “concern” I have heard is about my geography. It is suggested that since my wife and I are currently living in New Jersey, close to New York City that we would not want to move to (their city). Without even getting to know us, they assume that our feet are cemented in New Jersey, or that we are rude since we are currently living in the New York area. I donate much of my spare time mentoring radio students and collecting for church sponsored food and clothing drives. I also volunteer my time with a Christian business networking ministry that also has a radio show. My wife Susanne served on a mission trip to India. God put us in New Jersey as He needs us here right now. Besides, working in radio, I have lived in many places outside of the New York Metro area, in cities such as Fresno and Portland among others. I love those cities very much, made lifelong friends there. No doubt, New York City has a lot to offer and that also comes with a price. There are days I am reminded of the high cost of living and how tough it is for us to move to even a modest home in the area. My wife and I are seeking a better quality of life to raise a family and we will go where God creates the opportunity for promotion, even if it is in my backyard. I prefer to be asked if we would move and not have the question answered for us. Oh, and the answer is yes, we would move to where God calls us, if it is part of God’s plan.

 

7. What advice would you give someone looking to break into Christian radio fulltime?

Often, I get the opportunity to speak to groups of college students and radio friends who are looking for a change. I suggest if they haven’t already done so, to make Jesus Christ number one in their life and utilize your talents to serve Him and spread His word to the lost who need and seek Him. There is no better way to spend our limited days on this Earth. If you serve Him, God will provide. I also relate stories on how lives are changed through what we do in Christian radio. I don’t recall that happening at many secular stations I worked at. Besides, the best part is we play songs where the lyrics are never bleeped out. If God wants you to serve Him, He will find a place for you and will open doors, He has for me and I thank Him every day for that, and look to serve Him more.

 

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

My concern is that we are still focused on radio as AM and FM. I believe the best content will always win, but the device or technology and the way it will be delivered to the listener will change. For some reason, I’m seeing instances when new technology, such as internet only streaming as an excuse for poor programming content.  I also know many Christians working in secular radio that are not happy with their work environments and at the same time they feel are not welcomed in Christian radio. We need to welcome them as well as many young folks in their 20s who are passionate about radio.

 

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

I think there are so many Christian Stations that do an excellent job at being listener focused it would not be fair to try to make a list. While this will sound biased, even before I worked at STAR 99.1, I felt the station is an innovator as it is successful in the very crowded, the very competitive New York Metro Market.

 

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

More “stations” with formats and personalities that target younger demos. This will be coupled with delivering it on a device that is used by the next generation. We need to reach (and outreach) our youth with quality programming. Many churches are already successfully doing this with teen ministries. I am totally impressed by what I see in these young adults. In many cases, they are not served by any “radio station” as they do not listen to a radio.

 

 

 

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