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Radio Interview

                                     

Carmen Brown

PD/Mornings

The Joy FM

Sarasota

 

 

Carmen's Career Capsule
Carmen 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.



1. 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 non-believers.   

 

2. Overall, 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.

 

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

Continuously seeking God.

Encouraging your airstaff.

Building community both on & off the air.

 

4. What 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 her/him.

 

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

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 they love. 

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” promotions.

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 challenges.

 

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

Staying competitive 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.   

  

 

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