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Radio Interview


Colin Cruz

President/PD 

The Blast FM

Sioux Falls

To contact Colin click here
 

 

Colin Cruz's "Beautiful History"
On air at the following stations...College radio KAOR-FM Vermillion, SD 1990-1993, including a Christian speed
metal radio show called “Godspeed”. Also worked part time in public radio and at a full service AM radio station
while earning my B.S. In Mass Communication from the Univ. of South Dakota. 1993-1994: KELO-TV Sioux
Falls News/sports reporter/backup sports anchor & part time at KNWC-AM/FM. 1994-1996: WNCB-FM Duluth,
MN (now called Refuge Radio). 1996-1998: KSLT Rapid City, SD (including the weekly rock show).
1998: KNMI-FM Farmington, NM: nightly Christian rock show & high school football play by play
1998-2001: K-LYT-FM and then Massive Radio/M-88 Albuquerque: moved through all 4 major FT shifts,
became music director and then program director
2001-2003: KSBJ-FM & Planetlightforce.com (PLF) Houston Programmed PLF internet radio station, hosted
and produced weekly FM rock show.
2003: KAXF-FM (now KAFR) Houston: Hosted/produced weekly Christian alternative rock show
2004: freelance radio
2005-2006 Metro Networks (Westwood One Radio) Houston: sports anchor/writer; traffic producer/reporter
2005-Present TheBlast.FM


1. How has The Blast FM evolved over the last few years?

Music: The core of our sound has always been Christian modern rock/alternative. What has changed, musically, is this: The first few months, two spokes on the wheel were hip hop (ie Grits, Priesthood) and to a much smaller extent, electronic music (ie Andy Hunter). After seeing listener numbers drop significantly in real time about 80% of the time a hip hop song played, we made the decision to extract all of the rhythmic music out of our full-format playlist and confine it to a Saturday night specialty show, Blast Rhythms, which we cancelled by the end of year 1. What worked on an FM station that was “the only game in town” did not work in the sea of choices known as internet radio. Conversely, a spoke on the wheel that has always been there (Nu Metal/Screamo) has taken on much greater significance in the last year, as we have felt the Lord calling us to take the station in an even heavier direction. He has used harder rock bands to reach young souls, such as a teenager from Georgia who did not commit suicide because
of 4 particular hard rock songs he heard on The Blast and the encouraging lyrics they contained. Underoath,
Demon Hunter, The Showdown, Haste The Day, and other metal bands have become a much bigger presence
on the station than ever before. In fact, we started a specialty show this month called Blastmetal which airs
Saturday nights. The show incorporates the heaviest songs we play all week with even harder stuff. It's mainly
new and recent Christian metal from bands like Norma Jean and Inhale/Exhale, but also includes weekly a
weekly dose of The Ghosts Of Metal Blast (80's edition, ie Barren Cross) and (90's edition, ie Focused). Overall,
the station is more current and re-current focused than we were at the very start.
Ministry And Other Programming:
I can tell you first-hand, building a radio station and non-profit organization from the ground up is a monumental
task! I was forced to become my own studio engineer, among many other things. At least I don't have to climb
large radio towers. It took 19 months to build the radio station and the organization surrounding it (in part
because we have a very large playlist...we love to do things radio stations “aren't supposed to do”). With music
and imaging being the foundation of our sound (as far as attracting listenership), we launched at the stroke of
Midnight Central Time, January 1, 2007 with nothing but music and imaging on the air, which was all we had
ready to go. The first few months after The Blastoff, a lot of energy was spent on marketing and building our
audience. By April 2007, we started adding national ministry vignettes that work for our format (there are not
many of them). And we also began airing our first own in-house ministry vignette, Blast Bytes Of Truth, written
and voiced by a pastor on our pastoral advisory board. As 2007 progressed, our audience grew, listener emails
and donations increased. I got the vision in mid-2007 of airing The Impact Of The Blast promos, which recounts
the website feedback of listeners from all over the globe. I also got the vision of airing short Bible readings,
packaged inside cutting edge imaging sound effects and over cutting edge music. This vignette is called
Blasting Out The Word. These aren't just your typical “feel good verses of the day”, either. It airs hourly and
has received a lot of great feedback. One of the verses helped save a marriage in Hawaii as a man was
convicted by the verse to change how he viewed his wife. Some of the Blasting Out The Word segments have
a suggested prayer of salvation in them and a couple of young people from Egypt gave their lives to Christ under
the influence of The Blast.
Staff, Location, and Funding:
In the beginning, the radio station was in my house, taking up an entire bedroom...and closet. Now, it is housed
rent-free and utility-free inside a church...no strings attached. In the pre-launch days, I was naturally doing this
on a volunteer basis, and I continued to do so until April 2008. The Blast dug a big financial hole, but by October
2008, The Blast was debt free and it has stayed that way since then, for the most part. By August 2009, I was
officially doing this half-time. Besides me, we have a few key volunteers that do web site design, 2nd opinions on
the music, and imaging voice work.
On Air Talent, Shows, And Expansion to FM:
Go figure. I start a radio station in early 2007 but I did not give myself a show until early 2009, due to lack of
time. As I wear many hats at The Blast ...the disc jockeying is limited...2 to 3 shows a week, in random times, all
voice tracked, at this point. Since April of 2009, The Blast Radio Show has also been syndicated on an FM
secular active rock radio station in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sunday mornings. More DJ's are planned at some
point down the road.
Streaming Infrastructure:
When we Blasted off, we had one stream, which was a 48k AAC+, and that stream still exists today. We were all
about keeping our streaming fees low early on, since we had very little revenue. By March 2007 we started a
128k mp3 stream. Today, we have 7 simulcasted audio streams using 3 codecs at bit rates ranging from 24k to
128k. The 48k is here to stay: we have Indonesians from mostly Muslim families listening in areas of limited
internet bandwidth that use that stream.

 

2. Has The Blast FM made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in any way?

 A few months after launching the 128k mp3 stream, we were already making a strong push to get listeners to move to our 48k AAC+ stream. In late 2009, we added a fuller sound, 64k AAC+ stream and that gets the most
push on the air and on various sites and players we are listed on. The cost per listener on that is half as
much as the 128k streams.

 

3. How does The Blast FM connect locally with markets?

We position ourselves as an American-based radio station with a national and global focus. I believe it's hard to split your focus between being local and being national/international. However, we do connect locally to various markets in these ways: we promote our station via a booth at some large regional Christian music festivals, and have done so since 2006. I give presentations about The Blast to churches around our region when possible. There is a
Christian rock nightclub in Indianapolis that plays The Blast in between sets, every night, every show, so our glossy promotional Blast Cards are always on hand there. We've also promoted ourselves at a similar club in Minneapolis. I guess we connect with individual communities in a small way during The Impact Of The Blast segments as we always mention the city and state or city and country the individual is contacting us from and print that in The Blast Bulletin monthly newsletter.

 

4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on The Blast FM?

Musically, as far as the style is concerned, the song has to be aggressive and/or progressive. We are generally a harder-edged Christian rock station, so we skip out on quite a few singles from the lighter end of the spectrum that are released to our format, even if that particular song is from (gasp!) a core artist. Talent-wise, the vocals, musicianship, and production need to be as good as what the major labels are putting out. The band or artist does not have to be signed. We play a number of great independent bands. Lyrically, the words need to be coming from a Biblical world-view/agree with The Bible. At a minimum, the vast majority of the lyrics need to be understandable to the ear on air. The Blastmetal show is an exception. That would extremely difficult to enforce in that format. Fortunately, listeners can find lyrics for most of these songs and bands on the internet.

 

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

You can't go wrong by getting attached to any Christian concerts that fit your format in your area. In a youth format, the best promotion I was ever part of was K-LYT's Alternative Prom. The DJ's were the roving MC's on wireless mics interacting with Christian high schoolers from the area who were dancing in groups and having fun with large blow-up
party toys, prizes, snacks, games, and the music of the radio station. So many kids told us it was way more fun than their high school's prom. Also, former K-LYT GM Randy Rich, who was also a former NFL player with the Denver Broncos, used to use that platform to do public high school outreaches where he gave anti-drug, anti-drinking talks and encouraged kids to call in and get on the radio and say what they thought of the event. It got non-Christian kids listening to hear their voice and their friends on the radio.

 

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

For some labels, make sure they are servicing all radio stations in the format. One small label is still not servicing us, in spite of our requests to be serviced, which makes no sense to me, since the majors have all been servicing us for a
long time. One would think the minor labels would be most gung-ho about getting music in the hands of as many radio outlets as possible. Seek more input from radio stations as to what singles to release from a particular album. Sometimes better communication about singles. Some stations like to occasionally go deeper beyond the singles released to radio (for some of their station's bigger artists). It would be helpful to know when a song is “the last single” of the album. Also, and this last request probably is not possible due to competition between the labels, but it would be helpful if there was some collaboration between labels in the timing of the release of certain songs of the same or similar title to the same format. Example: Stellar Kart's new rock single is “We Shine”. Pillar's new rock single is
“Shine”. Obviously, the point is to help avoid confusion in the minds of the listeners.

 

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

The economy: the loss of jobs has removed the ability of some donors to give. Apathy: amongst those who can give, but don't giveeven $5 a month, perhaps out of a mindset that “radio is free”. Distribution of wealth: There isn't
enough money in the hands of groups that actually want to do something truly innovative and cutting edge that could reach masses of young people (the age group in which a person is most likely to get saved as a result of the witness of Christian radio). In some cases, fear and blinding pride and arrogance at high levels.

 

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

Ministering to the target audience. If the station's primary target is unsaved people, it's sharing the Gospel. If the target is established believers, it is encouraging those believers.

 

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

First of all, I take the (LA Dodgers play by play announcer) Vin Scully approach: I don't spend much time listening to competing stations to help maintain our originality. Secondly, I'd be violating my own principles of guerrilla
marketing by promoting any other station publicly! Of course, we think TheBlast.FM is innovative in our music selection, programming, and in the imaging we write, voice and produce, or we wouldn't be doing it.

 

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

I think the obvious answers here are: there will be a lot more focus on internet radio and the delivery of terrestrial and internet radio to wireless devices of all types. Far away internet radio stations like The Blast will be competing for in-car drive time listeners with local FM stations in their own market. In a small percentage of cases, that is already
happening. One of the worst case possible scenarios? We're webcasting from “undisclosed locations”
(possibly off-shore) if those who want to push their Socialist anti-Christian agenda are in power long enough. Another extreme scenario: we're all raptured within 5 years...and the question is...who has an apparatus in place to keep running programming for a period of time after the rapture?

 

10.

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