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Radio Interview

                                     

Dan Schaffer

Operations Manager

KAXL

Bakersfield

 

 

Dan's Career Capsule
I started in the radio business in 1967 on an Easy Listening FM station – WILE – in Cambridge, Ohio.  After two years active duty in the U.S. Navy keeping the Viet Cong from invading Charleston, South Carolina – in 1970 I started working at WCSI in Columbus, Indiana. I did mornings in Columbus and Kokomo, Indiana, and as a newsman in Indianapolis, at Country Giant WIRE in the mid-seventies.

After moving west to Phoenix, in 1980, I worked for Buck Owens Broadcasting at KNIX.  Then from 1984 through 1999 I worked in Bakersfield, California doing radio at Buck’s KUZZ, and as a TV Weatherman at KBAK TV 29 and at KTTV – Fox 11 in Los Angeles.  I also worked as an actor with appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” as a regular member of his cast of folks in the videos during the monologue.  I also did television shows, television commercials and voice over work.  And a really fun job for a trivia geek – I was a tour-guide at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. 

In 1999 I had an opportunity to get back to doing what I truly loved, radio.  And best of all it was Christian Radio.  I came on board here at KAXL as Operations Manager.  It was a learning experience for me having never worked at a non-commercial station before, and learning all the Christian artists – many of those were totally new names to me. 

However, God has brought me home and freed me so much in this job.  I have fun each morning.  I am so blessed.  I get to share my heart and listen to great music. 

 

1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”? 

Personally keeping the ministry in the “business” comes from treating the job as a business as well as a ministry.  God deserves the very best I can give to Him.  I want my program to reflect professionalism, striving to compete with the morning programs on the other secular stations.  I do NOT consider the other Christian signals on the dial here to be my “competition.” 

 

2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?  

In the last five years I have seen Christian radio working harder to compete in the marketplace.  We do have the best message and the greatest “Love Songs” on the radio.  There is a “beat” to the AC stuff that is the same as the AC in secular radio.  It is a quality sound with top notch production qualities.  The listener who is scanning across the dial and locks in on one of our songs, I believe, is likely to sample a little longer because of the positive message in the song. 

 

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

Christian radio Program Directors understand that we are in competition with every other station in the market for listeners.  The PDs I have met are people of integrity.  They are men and women who know that they are working for our Lord.  We want the best people we can find (and afford).  We want to put quality on the air and be good stewards of God’s money. 

 

4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station? 

When we put a song on the play list, we make sure that it is a song that tells the message we are working to convey.  Not every song has to have the “Come to Jesus” message that hits you over the head, but at the same time, I don’t want to air songs that are real obscure in their conveying the message.  I really love the lyric styling of Mark Hall and Casting Crowns.  Their songs are all songs of conviction.  Mercy Me can be so very encouraging.  There have been songs that have made the “National Charts” that I haven’t added simply because there is nothing in the artists’ bios that would even hint that they are Christians.  Listening to their other songs on their web-sites didn’t even come close to a Christian message.  Just because a record label says, “Play this song,” doesn’t make me want to run right out and put it on the air. 

 

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

When it comes to promotions, once again we like to keep in mind that we are handling God’s money.  Do we want to spend it on prizes for contests?  Would putting up cash prizes add to our listening base?  I don’t really believe it does.  We get small items such as restaurant gift certificates and items from other local business in exchange for plugging them as providing the prize.  One local music store, California Keyboards, has done a great job in partnering with KAXL over the years to provide giveaways during Sharathon, and during our Birthday Celebration.  One year we gave away a Yamaha keyboard, another year a really nice Garrison Acoustic Electric guitar, and this year they provided us with a “Praise Band” (instruments) which we gave away to a church. 

We also were blessed with the funds to purchase a Honda Odyssey van.  We take it to church functions throughout town.  Our Promotions Director uses it for her errands, so it becomes a traveling billboard for us.  We also tie in with a local ministry called Jesus Shack that produces concerts and ministers locally.  Local pastors join us on the first Tuesday each month for our Day of Prayer.  In that promotion each pastor will spend a half hour in prayer on the air for prayer requests called in by listeners.  We do four of those each Day of Prayer.

 

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

Christian Record labels walk a fine line of providing good product to Christian Radio.  However, in the past it was tough to get the latest product in a timely manner in the smaller (non-reporting) markets.  However, that is changing with web-site downloads available (plaympe.com) and the JonesTM discs each month.  That has saved me a lot of money in the past few years.  I used to go out and buy CDs so I could get the latest from various artists.  I am glad to see that the labels are making it easier to get the product.  Each song is, after all, a commercial for their product. 

 

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

Some of the biggest obstacles still facing Christian Radio revolve around money.  As a non-com station, we have to rely on donations from listeners and a limited number of business underwriters.  Buying the latest equipment and paying the staff competitive salaries for the market place can sometimes suffer because we can’t necessarily get the “best” of everything.  I think we do a good job of squeezing the most out of each dollar for our equipment needs. 

 

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

I believe that the main job of a Christian radio air personality is pretty much the same as a secular air personality as far as being a friend to the listener, being informative and entertaining.  But beyond that we also have a great responsibility to be “Barnabas.”  We are to encourage.  We are to uplift the body of Christ.  We are to let people know of His Grace.  I do not believe that beyond the message of Salvation we are to get in to doctrine.  That is the job of each congregation. 

When necessary I give my story of being a prodigal who came home to the Father.  Anyone who has been in the family and left needs to know that the Father still loves and wants them back.  I had a pastor of a small church tell me one day that he considers me as his associate pastor.  He tells his congregants to listen to me each morning and to take to heart the message in each of our songs.  One feature that we do is our “Military Prayer” where we pray for our local (and some not so local) folks who are serving our country in the military.  We post it on our web-site and every hour overnight and during drive time we do a thirty-second prayer time for some military folks.  The parents of those service personnel take great comfort in knowing that their loved one is in our prayers. 

 

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

I listen online (and donate to) several different Christian radio stations.  KCBI in Dallas/Ft. Worth is where I got the military prayer idea.  KDUV in nearby Visalia, California, KTIS in Minneapolis/St. Paul and WNWC in Madison, Wisconsin are stations from whom I have learned a lot.  They have been a great influence on their local markets and on the radio world, as far as I am concerned. 

 

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

I think that in the next five years Christian radio will be a truly strong force in more markets.  I would love to see groups of stations that band together to play different formats of music (AC/CHR/Country-Southern Gospel/Urban/Inspo/Talk-Teaching) all under one roof.  For example one non-profit group with each (or a few) of those formats could share office staff, utilities, rent and all the expenses of running a business.  When you do Sharathon – pool the monies in a big pot that doles out the money for all the expenses - keep track of which stations bring in the lion’s share of the budget, so on-air personnel could be expanded, to attract even more listeners and money. 

Once again, I am so blessed to be sharing this corner of the radio business with so many wonderful people.  At 3:30 am each day my prayer is that I may be a blessing in my market… I pray that you may be a blessing in yours as well. 

 

 

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