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
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
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
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
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
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
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.