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Radio Interview

                                     

Gary DeVeau

General Manager

WLIX

Long Island, NY

 

 

Gary's Career Capsule
Long, long ago - in a galaxy far, far away... I worked as a design engineer and then as a general contractor. I applied for work at WLIX AM Radio, on Long Island, and I gave my prior radio experience as, "I listen to the radio EVERY day". 12 years later, the Lord arranged a job for me at WLIX AM as an account executive.  Gradually my client base increased and spots were sold with one stipulation... the clients would buy spots, but only if I voiced them.  Seems the Lord WILL give you the desires of your heart,  :-)   Before not very long, I was the only account executive with a voice conflict code color assigned for the carts. When two of my largest clients didn't renew - a week before Christmas - G.M. Lloyd Parker and P.D. Jerry Williams decided to give me a shot as part of the on-air staff.  In 1995, after 16 years as Christian Radio, the station was sold for financial reasons, changed their call letters to WLUX  and went to a secular Pop Standard format.  I played Sinatra for about a year with them before health issues forced me to step down. Pause "career" for 12 years, two operations and time for God to set several things into motion. I receive a phone call from my dear friend and president of the Christian Television Network, NY, Pastor Richard Anderson. He had the opportunity to obtain a relatively new low powered FM station with the familiar call letters of WLIX. By the time that the station had it's official launch day of Resurrection Sunday 2007, we had our main antennae and 4 translators, allowing WLIX to reach a potential 2.5 MILLION listeners per day, as well as covering nearly 90% of all of Long Island.
We're a commercial free station, staffed completely by volunteers, looking more like a low powered college station.  However... we're reaching a LOT of people with a REALLY clear signal.  Our major programming rule is that we have to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ, and do it with excellence. At this time; I am engineering two shows each day for other ministries - Monday through Friday, hosting and producing the show "Around Town with Gary DeVeau - a blend of local Long Island Christian artists and classic Christian favorites, as well as producing and hosting the afternoon drive-time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 

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

I've always believed that the "Business" IS a ministry.  I felt that in radio and as a general contractor.  I've always remembered the expression, "If ya can't take the fame, ya can't take the blame".  We have to trust that God is COMPLETELY in control of ALL things.  I do my best, pray that it's blessed and He takes care of the rest. (Thank you, Keith Green, for that line)  This also means trusting that the people that are over me are controlled by God too.

 

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

Technology changes our world exponentially every day.  This has affected the way we enjoy and share our music and other media expressions too.  Our competition to capture, captivate and HOLD an audience has never been so intense. We have to be relevant and local while that definition keeps widening each day.

 

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

Each day they seem younger and younger than I. ;-) They have to be extremely creative and out of the box.    Radio MUST embrace the immerging technologies aggressively and creatively interface them to the consumer.  One simple idea would be to offer with their FM signal - sort of a carrier wave that brings the meta-data about the songs currently playing - then consumer clips and pastes the data into a search engine to obtain EVERYTHING about the artists, bios, band members, disc-ography and how to down-load ANY song. As everything goes digital, this will be old hat.  All that... and much more - we need the ability to multi-task our "product".

 

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

If anyone was our PD, it would be Pastor Richard Anderson - although, he is more like the GM or C.E.O.... well then again, he IS the senior pastor of their church, ALSO. We're more audience driven than we would like to admit. Each one of us are gaining valuable information on what "product" the "purchaser" wants - and then figuring out a creative method to supply that demand.  The best service we can do for our audience and for the survival of the station is to REALLY listen to each one of our phone calls, emails and IM's to really KNOW what Long Island wants and/or needs.  Many of us believe the primary reason Long Island 'lost' the old WLIX 540 AM station, was because we used a format that was generated, packaged and shipped-up from Nashville, Tennessee.  YOU SHOULD NOT, YOU COULD NOT AND YOU BASICALLY DID NOT DEVIATE FROM "The Format"!!!!!

WLIX LP FM is a BIT different than all that. We are presently one week shy of seven months old.  For the first four months, Pastor Anderson worked to make financing deals, worked to get media groups interested in the station AND did the morning drive time, from 6am to 10am, then produced two live shows and did production work until 3 - he then ran the afternoon drive time until 6pm - Monday through Friday.  He also produces the shows for about 30 hrs per week of The Christian Television Network AND leads three worship services.  Many of us joined-up in the beginning, but with myself personally, I didn't start working there with anything "tangible" until late July - early August.   Each individual air personality is able to cut a wide path through the jungle of song choices within out vast library of songs. Many of us also bring in our personal cache, which is slowly being added to the main computers and the back-up of our back-ups.   If anyone of us needed help, the others would come along side to encourage and teach.  Each one of us will "profit" if the station survives. Basically I would say that the music must bring glory to the Lord and if it sounds "good" for its genre!  We play ALMOST every genre and ANY label, including indie non-labels.

 

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

Christian promotions.  ;-) 

The most we've done so far is CDs, books & concert tickets.

 

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

Remember question #1! Keep Christ and the Body of Christ above their perceived "good business" choices.  Seek first the kingdom of God...and keep the bookstores and radio stations in the forefront of this elliptical relationship.

 

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

Making radio too big to address the personal needs of the listener.  After saying that, I would say that the biggest obstacle is proving to the listener that bigger is NOT better.  That local is better than satellite that "local personality" is better than the latest "HAL 2001" digital music computer voice.

 

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

I have to judge by our own hybrid station.  We are part worship leader and part pastor.  We pray over our shows and then assemble them, song by song.  We choose what scripture to read and when.  Many times, I will pre-record a dramatic scripture or other read, lay-in an appropriate music bed and then play it different sets of songs.  Most of us answer our own phones, when we're able to, and this brings many opportunities to pray with our audience - we actually encourage listeners to call for prayer.

 

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

My experience of any ONE station is quite limited, but I would have to say the stations that capitalize on their web presence with a site that is revised twice DAILY, offers something the audience needs or wants (web tools, search engines - internal and web, and  and a massive links page... make YOUR site the first site they would want to check-in with and the last one they close-out before they turn their computer, laptop or internet-accessible cell phone.)

 

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

Lord willing.... still on Long Island... and LARGER!!!

 

 

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