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Radio Interview

                                     

Bryan Race

Station Manager

WRAF

Toccoa Falls, GA

 

 

Bryan's Career Capsule
Bryan is a native of Huntsville, Alabama where he began a career at the age of 16 hosting a Christian rock show WNDA. This past February marked his 24th anniversary in broadcasting. Bryan worked for WAAY in Huntsville, AL, WBAM & WHHY in Montgomery AL, and WCGQ Columbus, GA before coming to the Toccoa Falls College Radio Network in 1992. He hosted "The Road Home" radio show for 9 years and now serves as station manager of WRAF & WEPC. Bryan graduated from Toccoa Falls College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry. Currently he is working on a Masters in Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In early 2005 he launched ChristianPodcasting.com and is the host of “The Christian Music Podcast.”

 

1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique? 

The programming on WRAF (a 100,000 watt station out of Toccoa Falls, GA) is simulcast over WEPC (a 50,000 watt facility in Belton, SC) and is heard over 3 translators which allow us to cover from the north side of Atlanta, GA to the southern portions of Greenville, SC. Cities served by our signals include Anderson, SC, Athens, GA, Gainesville, GA and Franklin, NC. This is a very conservative region, which highly values Christian Radio. We are very fortunate to have many quality stations that serve the tri-state area of NE GA and the western Carolinas.

 

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?

Changed Lives! When someone tells me they were moved to make a life-altering decision to follow Christ because of something they heard on WRAF it energizes me to work even harder.

 

3. How do you personally keep the ministry in the business?

Great question and one that I constantly wrestle with. I was very blessed to learn a lot about radio programming from my days in “Top 40” radio. People like Larry Stevens and Cat Collins at WHHY and Chuck Harris at WCGQ taught me the science of how to hook listeners by providing a quality product that is “listener-focused.” I’m often tempted to rely on techniques and conventional thinking when making decisions. Keeping ministry at the heart of what we do seems to be most often achieved as we ask the hard question of what does God want in this situation. There is no magic formula… just the disciplines of prayer and knowing what the Bible says, then applying it to what we do.

 

4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your station?

If my wife likes it we play it ;-) There may be more truth in that than I should reveal. The official answer is that it must be a song that serves a purpose. Does it contain a truth or message that lies at the core of what we are all about? Wayburn Dean’s “Gotta Forgive Them” comes to mind. With my time spent in “pop” radio I often look for songs with catchy hooks such as “Love Rains Down” by Jaime Jamgochian. Obviously checking how songs are performing around the country is insightful and the song must fit our inspo format, which tends to lean conservative. We have been evolving from a traditional format to inspo over the last 4 years and that means that hymns from modern artists such as the ones on Bart Millard’s project are very helpful.

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?

Due to the huge coverage area we have and the limited resources, promotions that are executed over the air versus a specific location are preferred. Ideally we would love to be at every event of interest to our audience but as a non-com operating out of a small town we haven’t found how to best super serve our audience in this way. Creative contesting allows us to entertain the listener while meeting the needs of partnering ministries. Currently we are having a big “War of the Worldviews” contest to help promote the upcoming Worldview Super Conference from American Vision that we are sponsoring.

 

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

I love the approach Wendell Gafford of Creative Promotions has. He’s concerned that I find songs which will best fit my needs. Many times that means sending me the full CD and recommending a cut besides the single to consider playing. Wendell has also been instrumental in getting many of the artists he represents to go back in the studio and produce versions of songs with an inspo friendly mix. Recent developments like Promo Only have been a big help but I would like to see the labels get the full CD in my hand.  

 

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

Homogenization... cookie cutter sounding stations that lack musical variety, personality, and most importantly SPIRITuality. Too many decisions are made without genuinely seeking or following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Let me be the first to say “mea culpa.” We need more visionary leaders who can strategically position Christian Stations for Kingdom work not just keeping the shareholders happy.

 

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

When I first started it seemed like every announcer saw himself as the preacher who needed to pontificate between every song. Very few of us like being preached at by deejays. Our approach is to allow the personality to be real and hopefully come across as someone the listener will consider a friend. Steve Gimbert, our afternoon drive host, is one of the best I’ve ever heard at this and it’s because of his incredible ability to communicate who he really is. Listener’s comment continually about how Steve puts into words the things they feel and believe.

 

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

The stations I follow are all friendly competitors. WMIT, the Billy Graham station in Asheville, NC, has been a real inspiration for us. Under Tom Atema’s direction they successfully made the same type of transition we are making. His Radio out of Greenville, SC and The Fish from Atlanta are great to listen to and do a masterful job of connecting with their communities.

 

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

I see the rapid expansion of broadband and Wi-Fi as opening up incredible opportunities for keeping Christian programming competitive in the market place. WRAF recently launched a contemporary music channel on the internet (with a CD quality stream) called MyFavoriteStation.Net. We hope to soon begin a “classic” WRAF format which will feature more traditional gospel music and even a Southern Gospel channel. All of these will be hosted by WRAF personalities and gives us the opportunity to remain a vital part of listener’s lives by giving them the programming they want from people they trust.

 

 

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