Sprit FM Radio Network
I grew up
in radio under my father (Andy Willoughby, “Big time radio
management & sales consultant” now). I literally was
working in radio from the time I was 6 when I was doing
child-voiceovers for the local car dealership and worked at
every station my father went to, usually as the Top
Environmental Maintenance Administrator (I cleaned the
toilets). In 1983 radio went from: “this is what I do in my
spare time with my dad”, to “this is my career”. I
gradually worked my way up through the ranks from over night
DJ to mid-days, to afternoons, to mornings, to production
director, to music director, to program director, and also I
did sales. Other than Chief Engineer, I think I have held
every position possible at a radio station throughout my
career; however, the biggest learning curve in my career
started when I worked in Wichita Kansas with some great
programming people, Lyman James and Bob Thornton. Reality
hit. I grew up a lot. I learned a lot. I got fired.
Bummer. Afterwards, I went into
mainstream radio and improved. I spent the next half of my
career producing and programming everything from Hot
Country, to R&B, to News Talk, to CHR & Rhythmic, until God
called me out of radio for a few years to do youth
ministry. Several years later, my wife, three kids, and I
moved to beautiful Lake of the Ozarks to do ministry and
radio consulting with my father. A year, or so, later I
started working with Jim at Spirit FM, KCVO, part time. A
year later God released me to go back into radio and, I
started as the Creative Director here at Spirit FM, KCVO,
until I got an offer to GM KCWJ in Kansas City. After a
time there I realized that I liked being a PD better than a
GM; so, after a while at KCWJ, I gave my notice and here I
am, back at Spirit FM as the PD, working for one of the best
GM’s I’ve ever worked for, Jim McDermott, and I think I have
the best programming staff there is. I love it.
1. How did you wind up at Spirit
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally
about Christian radio?
I love people, and I love
competition. Designing Christian radio that competes with the
mainstream market is a passion for me.
3. How has God used you in your role at Spirit FM?
My passion is to acknowledge Him in
everything that I do… I want people to listen to the radio and
say, “Man, this station is awesome!” I want listeners to feel
like our station is better and more professional sounding than any
other station on the dial. I want to be able to say, “OK Lord,
I’ve put my whole heart into this and done everything that I can
with what you’ve given me to make this the best radio possible,
now I offer it to you for you to do something with it.” Then when
people talk about what an awesome station we have, we can give all
the glory to God.
4. What is the criteria that determines
if a song receives airplay on your station?
watch several of the radio and sales charts religiously (R&R, CRW,
Jams, Etc…), that combined with gut feeling and some home grown
research, polling listeners, and one of the best dog gone music
directors in the biz, Kyle Miller (he makes my life pretty easy).
We are also now trying to get into more internet research.
5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?
really try to develop promotions that go after the young mothers.
We also try to double most all of our prizes. If we give away a
day at the spa, we try to make sure that we give away a day at the
spa for two, this way “Jennifer” (our stereotype targeted
listener) can take a friend. We also have some real active
listeners, so anytime we can get the listeners to do something
crazy for a prize, we go for it. Fortunately, I am blessed with
an awesome promotions Director, Jill Fletcher, who does a great
Job of keeping things happening around here.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve
Although some of the Christian
labels have really shined in professional standards, it seems that
about a third of the Christian Labels still take the “We are
Christian and don’t have to operate the same way the secular
labels do” attitude (much how 75% of Christian radio stations
operate) and put that into their professionalism as well. This is
a big mistake for both sides of the industry.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio
air personailty today?
To minister to the listener in a
creative, and entertaining way that the listener can relate and
makes Jesus Christ real in their life.
9. What (if any) other Christian radio stations do you
consider as inovators today?
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Waking up and realizing that in
order to compete for people’s lives spiritually, we need to
compete for their lives in the natural. We need to be purpose
driven radio that will continually strive for excellence in
ministry and professionalism in the on-air sound. We are the head
and not the tail, therefore we should not follow behind the
secular industry in professionalism, but we need to cause heads to
turn, think out of the box, and glorify God in all that we do.
© Copyright 2002