began her radio career in Tampa at Q105. She started out as a
producer for the
Cooper and Ritter Morning Show
shortly after graduating from The University of South
Alabama. Quickly, she became a third leg of the morning show, and
the threesome had a very popular, family friendly morning show in
the Tampa market for many years. After a format "tweak" in late
2003, Carmen left Q105. A few months later she joined The JOY FM as
Promotions Director. After a couple of years as promotions
director, she was promoted to Program Director in September of this
year. Carmen is also a third on The Morning Cruise with Dave Cruse
and Bill Martin.
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
I don’t believe the
two are mutually exclusive. Therefore, I won’t draw a line between
“sacred” and “secular”. Without that line, all of life can be a
place for the application of faith and we won’t limit ourselves. If
you are a believer, ministry should be in every business – it’s just
a different mission field, so to speak. Our station is people,
community-focused. Some of the most “ministry” things that we do
are very non-religious. I use the same approach on-air, in
programming, and in promotions. I believe in building bridges and
finding common ground – whether it is with believers or
how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?
I’ve only been in
the CCM format for 4 years, but in the short time that I’ve been in
Christian radio, I’ve seen quite a few changes. Programmers are
starting to re-think how they do things, and accepting the reality
that to reach the ones after us, we can’t keep doing what we’ve
always done. There also seems to be more of a shift back to
personality radio, as opposed to “crush & roll”. The music is king,
but I believe what comes between the songs is too.
do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio
both on & off the air.
criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?
There are lots of
criteria for adding a song. You have to have a pulse on your
audience, and know what will win with them. For example, 3 of our
biggest songs are Rita Springer’s, I Have to Believe, Clay
Crosse’s I Believe, and Sara Groves’, When the Saints.
You never saw any of those songs on any “lists”, but they are
hands-down favorites of our listeners. I am a fan and believe in
music testing. One of the most exciting times in my job is when I
get the tests back, and I can study them. But at the end of the
day, I still believe in “gut level research”, too. I am a HUGE fan
of all kinds of music, and I recognize what connects or moves
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian
The promotions that
work best are the ones that create community. Any station can have
“fly-a-ways, song or key word of the days” – and those are all
good. However, they don’t create community. One of our biggest
promotions each year is T-Shirts for Turkeys. We collect
frozen turkeys in exchange for a station T-Shirt. It’s a win/win
for everyone. We help food banks stock their freezers, listeners
have a tangible way to help, we’re out in highly visible places
(grocery stores), and we have almost 10,000 people as walking
billboards. As my GM stated, “the level of giving is amazing”.
Meaning the connection at which folks come out and give.
Another avenue that
is starting to pop up more for us is having artists for their Street
Week. We have the artist on the morning show, and then create an
intimate, wouldn’t-be-able-to-purchase event later in the day. We
just had Francesca Battistelli on her release date. Since Franny is
Italian and raves about her family’s meatball recipe – I had her
send me the recipe, and we had a Pasta Party complete with
Francesca’s meatballs. Our listeners got to know Francesca, hear
her new music and connect with her in a deeper way. It’s always
nice when you can be the conduit for your listeners and the artists
Several years ago,
we did a Today show style wedding, and the listeners got to
vote on the details of the wedding. They got to know the couple,
and they felt like it was one of their relatives getting married.
One other promotion
of note is The Summer Cruise. Each summer, Dave, Bill and I
“cruise” our listening area and broadcast LIVE from local diners.
Last year we took Brandon Heath with us, and this past year we took
Matthew West. This is hands down one of our most “high-touch”
So basically the
promotions that work best are the ones that have you OUT of the
building face to face with your listeners! Or the ones that give
them a say in the promotion.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can
better serve Christian radio?
We have excellent
relationships with all of the labels. I consider them all business
partners or co-workers. It’s exciting to work with them and
brainstorm on different ways to deliver music, artists and
promotions to the listener. They’re all aware of the current
climate, and in my opinion, are over-delivering given the
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles
facing Christian radio today?
and relevant, while at the same time staying true to what we
believe. We have the privilege of telling the BEST story ever
told! We just need to make sure we are telling it to the best of
our abilities. Recruit good people, put on great imaging . . . care
about the product. Represent the Kingdom well. Lose the attitude
of “well, we’re doing the best we can”. God deserves our best, and
when we give it to Him, I believe a lot of our “obstacles” will take
care of themselves.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality?
As the folks that I
work with will tell you, the two words that irk me the most are
“compelling” and “transparent”. We radio nerds (myself included)
always have to have buzz words that we way overuse!!! But – with
that being said, I believe as a personality, you must be compelling
and transparent. You have to be vulnerable enough to allow your
audience to connect with you, but balanced enough that it’s not all
about you. As with any genre, you must deliver in a way that will
cause them to “lean in”. The overwhelming response that we get
from listeners is that we are “real people”. I don’t believe in
planned “spiritual breaks” and I don’t believe you have to spin
everything from a “spiritual” angle. That is not the way we
communicate, and that does not make you relatable.
One break on any
given day we may be debating hot dogs and Homer’s Odyssey (true), or
telling folks where they can drop off their shoe donations for the
orphanages in Guatemala. And then the next morning, we’re
delivering the horrible news that the Chapman family just lost their
youngest daughter. This is real life and we live it on air. We are
real friends having genuine conversation.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
Stations who are
taking risks, not doing formula radio, focusing on the personalities
and building community on and off the air. They’re delivering a
great product while loving God, and loving people at the same time.
If you’re doing that, then you’re an innovator!
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
By God’s grace,
hopefully even better than we are today. That’s my plan.