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Radio Interview

                                     

Gary Thompson

APD/MD

WJQK

Grand Rapids

 

 

Gary's Career Capsule
I started in 1989 at age 14 volunteering weekends on KNGX college radio in Claremore, Oklahoma. Did that for 4 years. Was hired for overnights on KXOJ in 1993 one week before I graduated from high school. From there I went to KCFO in Tulsa, WCVO in Columbus, KKOW Pittsburg/Joplin, back to KXOJ, WHKO/Dayton, and joined JQ in July of 2007.

 

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

Keep your focus on the big picture. Love God, Love People. The rest will iron out behind that.

 

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

I think you've got many more stations taking advantage of music testing and perceptual research. That's been good for us at radio. Better numbers, better jocks and more focused playlists are the result. Because we're using these tools as programmers now, the way we program has changed a bit. These changes have made getting adds a bit harder in places for the record industry, however. But that's a different story.

 

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

I think he or she still LOVES and has a passion for the music. I think he or she absolutely is thrilled when they are inspiring their staff and helping them get better. And I think he or she is not too proud to ask for help (when they need it) from their staff or others in the industry.

 

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

JQ has a signature 'sound.' Every station does. Each song contributes in it's own way to the overall flavor of that sound. It's a recipe in a constant (if slight) state of flux with a number of factors at play. But the short, ambiguous answer is that any song I add any given week should fit roundly and nicely into that 'feel.'  Oh, and no "Village People."

 

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

Anything that reinforces your relationship with them positively is good. And promotions that get your listeners working together in making their community better are big winners. Oh, and make sure they get a prize while you help them change their world. =)

 

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

I think they're doing a great job considering the changing promotional climate. We're all in a state of learning as the landscape changes. There are some good leaders in radio promo right now.

 

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

We're in a time where more stations are learning to put into use many of the great tools and research techniques we have learned from mainstream. While we do this, let's use common sense and NOT take on some of the mistakes mainstream has made.

 

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

Be a friend. Don't lick their boots, don't patronize. Don't be something you're not. Just be their friend.

 

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

One of my career mentors, Terry Dismore has said something to the effect that "The definition of innovation is taking an idea or concept and doing something new with it. Many times we confuse innovation with excellence. There are many excellent CCM stations today. There are fewer innovators."

I think Bob Thornton and his team at KXOJ in Tulsa have come up with some amazingly out of the box, creative and on-target promotional ideas over the last 10 years. Concert-Wear T-shirts, Contest Of All Time, The Campaign To Meet Every Listener, The KXOJ lemonade stand and Everybody Wins-Day are some examples.I had never seen any of these promotions until KXOJ did them.

I would definitely consider EMF innovators. There's no one else in our industry doing what they are LIKE they are. Cox Radio and Clear Channel are innovators amongst mainstream companies for having the insight to try such a viable format when other groups aren't yet touching it.

 

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

Steady growth. I see a growing web influence. And I think you'll have more stations incorporating their websites into their positioners.

 

 

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