We have two universities in our market. Washington
State University with 20,000 or so enrollment, and
eight miles away in Moscow, ID is University of Idaho
with another 8,000 students. Pullman and Moscow are
only about 50,000 people combined, so the university
population has a huge impact on the area.
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you
personally about Christian radio?
Without a doubt, changed lives. The stories of
people drawn closer to God and people encouraged to
stay in relationship with Him are what keeps us going.
We a report of a tanning bed conversion. This woman
was in a tanning bed when someone in the next bed over
turned on our station. She was stuck, forced to listen
to 20 minutes of Fire Music. She decided the music
wasn't too bad and started listening more on her own.
The message in the music got through to her hard heart
and that woman is now in a Bible-teaching church,
studying the Bible and telling her friends. I've seen
first hand in my own life and my own family how a
persistent influence of Christian music can help keep
a person walking in the right direction. I want that
for more families.
3. How do you personally keep the ministry in
It's not difficult. Our job is to keep great
sounding songs with positive messages going out over
the airwaves. So long as we keep that focus, we're
keeping ministry first.
4. What is the criteria that determines if a
song receives airplay on your station?
It should sound like current hit music. Sonically,
it should be playable on our local CHR/Pop station.
We're striving for a balanced CHR/Pop sound, meaning
pop, dance, rock, R&B and Hip Hop are all up for
consideration. The rock songs shouldn't be harder than
what mainstream CHR would play. Lyrically, we're
looking for songs that talk about life from a
Christian worldview, and songs about God done in a
fresh way. We pass on most of the songs written TO God
(worship lyrics), because we're aimed at a very
unchurched audience. Most of the worship songs, no
matter how revved up musically, come across as
codespeak to people with little exposure to church.
5. What kind of promotions work best for your
We're 13 months old, so I'm not sure I know for
sure yet. I do know that going out to a local
community event, and putting up a booth with a free
prize wheel loaded with cool stuff (think Wheel of
Fortune) will get you the biggest line at the event.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels
can better serve Christian radio?
Overall, I'd say they're doing okay. But I'd be
remiss if I didn't put my plug in for more radio
friendly rhythmic and hip hop music. Rhythmic is the
pop music of the masses right now, and especially for
people under 25. It's not a niche format: it's what's
driving mainstream pop radio. Find and develop artists
that can hold their own with 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas
and Kanye West. Let's get there before mainstream is
off onto the next big thing.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest
obstacles facing Christian radio today?
Signals in major markets. We've made a lot of
progress in recent years on this front, but Christian
radio needs to be two or three deep with full-market
signals, each targeting a different demographic. It
pains me to see markets with Inspo, AC and Teaching
stations piled three deep and no youth or young family
targeted radio talking about the Lord. Another
obstacle is our sometimes over-zealous gatekeeper
mentality. When there are more Christians listening to
the local country, AC and CHR stations, that tells me
that Christians aren't as uptight about lyrics or
artists as we are sometimes. We've actually chosen to
play select songs from mainstream artists whose
messages make sense within a Christian worldview. We
play U2. We played Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be"
and "Chariot." We played Goo Goo Dolls cover of "Give
a Little Bit." We played Black Eyed Peas "Where is the
Love." Maybe it's the result of living in one of the
most unchurched areas of the country all my life, but
I think these songs belong on radio done by
Christians. When you play songs like this, you give
the person sampling you something recognizable to
build on, and it gets them thinking about those songs
in a new framework. Lastly, research, the two edged
sword. Research has helped Christian radio take great
leaps forward in professionalism and ratings, no
question. Now that we have it, though, we have a
tendency to think we've got all the answers and that
we know what people want to hear. The problem comes
when you have a closed loop. Take a station for years
has been playing music made by Christians and for
Christians, targeted to middle-class white women in
their 30's. Research enters the picture. If you ask
them what kind of music they want, they're probably
going to parrot back to you the better songs on your
playlist, and the weaker testing ones get weeded out.
The result being, you get a very happy audience. But
there's no telling if you're necessarily hitting the
largest possible audience, because other potential
listeners were already filtered out of the test by
virtue of what was already on the air. No one seems to
be doing the research to find out how to target those
just outside our normal walls of the format, to see if
there's a chance of gaining more listeners, while
still holding on to much of your core.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of
the Christian radio air personality today?
For the most part, people use radio for
Entertainment and Companionship. If we take those
roles on the air, to be fun to listen to, to be a
friend, we have a shot at being part of people's
lives. We earn the right over time to talk about
deeper things. Other than that, the music is the star,
so make the music sound as cool as possible.
9. What (if any) other Christian radio
stations do you consider as innovators today?
I don't know too many of you yet, so don't feel
like I overlooked you if I don't mention you. WNAZ,
KAFC and anyone else putting rhythmic music in their
mix full time. The WAY-FM group of stations, because
Bob Augsburg is my hero for blazing a trail for youth
targeted Christian radio in this country. Anyone else
who's looking beyond the traditional walls of our
format for music that belongs, keep it up!
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5
Musically, I see us closing the gap between the
sound of mainstream stations and the Christian
counterparts, but not quite there yet. I would love to
see more major market stations taking a shot at the
younger Christian audience.