I’m a Missouri
boy! After attending Evangel College in Springfield MO in the
late 80s, and getting hooked on Christian Music Radio, I went home
and started working at my hometown Christian radio station in St
Joseph MO. (Hey, we all got into this because we wanted to be
a DJ, right?) My first full-time on-air gig was with Jim
McDermott, (Spirit FM in Camdenton MO), then later with the Word In
Music Satellite Network, which is how I ended up in Colorado
Springs. I’ve spent the last 15 years in Colorado Springs,
working in radio, for Focus on the Family, and for the past 7 years
with the WAY-FM Media Group.
How has WAY-FM/ CHRSN evolved over the last few years?
When I accepted this
job with WAY-FM, I asked the bosses, “What makes WAY-FM unique from
other Christian radio?” The answer in 2002 was…”We target a
younger audience than most Christian radio stations, and we do more
music research than anyone else, and play only the songs that our
listeners tell us they want to hear…” Today, I
would have a different answer to that question. My answer
would be… “We target a younger audience than most Christian radio
stations, we follow the music research, and our on-air and on-line
personalities are completely outside of the box compared to other
Christian radio.” Our on-air personalities are so compelling.
They are now as important as the songs we play! They are the
reason why we feel good about the next 10 years!
2. Has WAY-FM/ CHRSN made any changes due to economic situation,
been affected in any way?
2009 was a tough year.
Our listener support stayed strong, but business support fell
dramatically. We made a few cuts, but kept our key air talent
team in place… and we are now feeling cautiously optimistic about
does WAY-FM/ CHRSN connect locally with markets?
This is where I insert
my plug! We do believe strongly in local radio. CHRSN
programming is available to any local radio station.
Our DJs can be your DJs, and you can still be a powerful, local
radio station. We have the model. We use the model at our own
local WAY-FM radio stations all over the country. Each local
WAY-FM station uses our compelling national air talent (I.E.
Mornings with Brant, The Midday Cruz, Total Axxess), but it’s all
very localized to each market. We believe this is this can
work for anybody. Talk to me if you want to know more.
4. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
I think most of us see
how much radio is threatened by all of the new media options.
A few years ago, radio lost the battle for in-home listening… Now,
in-car listening is being threatened by other new media choices.
With our younger demo, it’s happening even faster than for other
more traditional Christian stations. However, every challenge
can also be an opportunity. WAY-FM is more than just a radio
station ministry. We are proactively forming a digital
strategy and feel like we have the potential to have even greater
influence in “The Connected Movement.” Think about it…It’s
possible that with the right content, we (radio groups) might even
find our way back into homes! (By the way, I stole that phrase
“connected movement” from Chris Nielsen who operates CSNGlobal)
5. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio
I use to think
Christian radio announcers were just the “icing on the cake” and the
cake was the music that we played. However, that is not the
way we think anymore. In many cases, our personalities are the
cake that our listeners are coming to us to find. Our
personalities are out “unique content creators.” After working with
Brant, Nikki, Pablo, Donna, Wally, Zach, Jeff Connell, and others, I
will never be the same again. These people know how to connect
in a raw, authentic, and real level. I’ve never heard anything
like it in my previous 20+ years of radio. The more “real”
they get, the more amazing ministry is happening. They also
understand and value new media and social media and utilize it as
part of their job.
6. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
I’m proud of WAY-FM
leadership right now. I think we are innovating. I know
there are many others. I have great respect for John Frost and
the stations that he works with. I am especially fond of the
Christian radio stations that keep a ministry focus. That’s
not always easy to do.
Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
We’ll be here.
(Some people say we won’t, I don’t believe them.) The real
question to me is not “will we be here…” But, “will we be
successfully operating as part of the connected movement…” If
we are hoping to just keep our radio station on the air and to keep
doing what we have always done, then I think we’ll fade in terms of
importance in our communities.