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Radio Interview

                                     

Bryan O'Neal

Program Director

KSGN

Riverside

 

 

Bryan's Career Capsule
Started radio career in Dec.1972 while a Senior in High School. My first job was running Sunday morning Public Affairs programming at 97.1 KPAM FM/AM in Portland Oregon. (The very early days of Top 40 on FM. We had promotions to install FM converters in cars because so few of them had FM.)  Moved to Top-40 Giant 62KGW in 1977 (Where I met Alan Mason). In 1983  I went back, to 97.1 (changed to KCNR -AC) then back to 62KGW in 1986 with Alan as General Manager. Also I 1986 I started a company called The Hook Factory making research tapes for Mainstream stations across the country until 1997. That was before digital editing. 1992 I helped Bob Anthony start Spirit FM in Portland area, 1994 I went to Sacramento to KLOVE network when they had only 8 stations. 1998, back to Portland to be PD of KPAM 860AM.

2001, Air1 Network as production guy, then Program Director in 2002 until 2005. June 2005, KTSL Spokane, WA.  June 2006, Afternoons at 89.7 KSGN Riverside-San Bernardino, becoming PD in July 2006.

 

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

We have adopted a policy of getting involved in the community in a big way every month. We look for opportunities to bring our listeners to events that benefit the cities that we serve, from a playground rebuild at school, to supporting camps for abused children, and collecting items to send to our military guys. It's exciting, for back to school we are going to giveaway around 6,000 backpacks to kids in need. We will do that working through about 20 different churches. We also have plans to do global mission work, I will be going back to Cambodia this fall with the Bible League as we get ready to work with our listeners to fund the distribution of thousands of Bibles in the Khmer language.  

 

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

I think one of the major differences is that Christian radio has begun to understand that we need to find out what the listeners want and then give it to them. Coming from a mainstream background we were doing music research in the 70's at 62KGW in Portland. My PD at the time Mike Phillips was one of the early programming pioneers in that area. What we ended up with was ratings where we had twice as many listeners as the #2 station in town. It was a 15.1 share against a 6.8 or something like that. This was also the company where Alan Mason was the Corporate Research Director, and  the audience and music research going on today is a product of those early days. We are tightening our playlist to make sure that we only play what people tell us are their favorite songs. We are also doing a better job of relating to people on the air, talking to them as their friend, building relationships, not announcing stuff at them.

 

3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio PD? 

Honesty and Integrity! A PD has to know how to relate to the airstaff and to remember the golden rule: to treat them the way you would want to be treated. You can have all the programming knowledge in the world but if you don't gain the respect and confidence of your people, if you try and rule by intimidation, you'll get nowhere.

 

4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station? 

We'll it's not like there is a check list like, how many Jesus mentions are in it. We want to know that the artist has professed a relationship with Christ.  It has to sound like a mass appeal song, of course the message needs to be there. When I get that question from listeners I ask them "how do you decide which performance you like on American Idol? They can't always explain it. They just know that at that moment one song spoke to them more than the others. That's a bit like the process that happens when we add a song, after that the audience will let us know if they feel it too.

 

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

In my opinion, it's the ones that give back in some form, or encourage listeners to team up and show God's love to the unchurched community, like the playground rebuild at the public school in the poorest at risk neighborhood that I mentioned earlier. When people see that Christians came out of their churches and rallies to get their hands dirty with hard work that benefits others, they begin to soften in their skepticism towards Christians and relationships can begin to form. The doors are then opened for further discussion of faith. 

 

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

Ya know, I really don't have any advice for them. I find them pretty helpful already.

 

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

You mean besides the fact that we are understaffed and stretched for cash? One obstacle is that a lot of people still think of Christian radio as "my grandmas music". I'm amazed how many  Church people are unfamiliar with  what we've been doing for years. I met someone just this week, a mom, mid 30's, 2 kids, Christian all her life and she just left secular radio listening a few months ago when she discovered KSGN. To her ALL our music is new. We need to get the word out even more.

 

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

I guess a good term can be: relationship facilitator. By that I mean, as they relate to the listener, that person feels that they begin to know the air-talent. It's that connection which allows the air-talent to introduce the listener to the beauty of another relationship, the one with Jesus Christ. This happens through both the music and the content of the air-talents breaks. I'm not talking about preaching at them, I'm talking about sharing in a personal way.

 

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

I really pay attention to what's going on in Seattle at KCMS. I have even borrowed some things from them (Thanks Scott). It's fun to exchange ideas with Scott Valentine.

Also, WPOZ in Orlando, Dean O'Neal  (no relation) is doing a great job in that market too.

 

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

I Hope to see us continue to serve our customers, The listeners. We need to keep our eyes and ears on the expectations of people who listen to the radio, and be ready to address the changes in those expectations as time goes by.

 

 

 

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