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Radio Interview

                                     

Matt Austin

Southeast Regional Manager

WAY FM

Nashville

 

 

Matt's Career Capsule
23 years of general market programming experience, primarily in mainstream CHR.  WAY-FM Nashville since 1997, when I joined as Program Director.  I've been Station Manager since 2001, and am currently Southeast Regional Manager for WAYM Nashville, WAYQ Clarksville, WAYW New Johnsonville, TN and the Southeast Network including the cities of Montgomery, AL, Chattanooga, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Cookeville, TN, Rome, GA and Bowling Green, KY.

 
1. Tell us about your market (Nashville) and how it is unique?

Nashville is unique in the sense that virtually the entire Christian Music Industry is all around us, so our relationships with the makers of the music we play is important in unusual ways.  That dynamic has been instrumental in growing our Christian Hit Radio Satellite Network, as shows such as Total Axxess give listeners the inside of the CCM world in our backyard. 

 

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?

Seeing the changed lives among so many youth and young adults that WAY-FM is called to minister to.  My years in general market radio were rewarding, but not nearly as much so as in this format, where an emotional connection can be made that may ultimately result in a life-change experience with God among our listeners.  There's nothing like it in any other kind of radio experience.  I also am blessed to work with the most talented people in all of my career.  Bob Augsburg's vision for WAY-FM is strongly compelling and has inspired me, and great leaders such as Dusty Rhodes, John Frost, Curt Swindoll, Tommy Kramer and our newest Network Program Director, Dave Senes to sign up for the ride of our lives!

 

3. Here is your chance to testify on behalf of your station...How has God used WAYM?

I read letters almost daily from young people who tell me that WAY-FM was used of God to end their drug habit, restore a failing marriage, choose friends more wisely, and even to begin a relationship with Christ.  What's more exciting than that???

 

4. What advice could you give to a young person starting out in Christian radio?

Learn as much as you can!  Go beyond your personal biases and do everything you can to get inside of your listener's head.  The radio station is not about you.  It's ONLY about the listener.  I've adopted Tommy Kramer's philosophy of winning radio;  Play her favorite song...NOW!  And, when you open the mic, say something she cares about. 

 

5. What are some advantages/disadvantages of being non-commercial?

There are no disadvantages to non-commercial radio.  There are many advantages.  The greatest being total control of the on-air content.  For example, in my general market experience, a sales manager once wanted to give away lamps as an hourly prize.  I protested, but when my general manager learned that a $50,000 buy was at stake, we gave away lamps.  In non-commercial radio, we have no competing interests to the strategy that is developed.  While business supporters are extremely important to us and we work hard to insure their success in partnership with WAY-FM, there's never a message that usurps our strategy simply because of an 'ad buy.'  The businesses we work with already support our vision and mission.  That's a great place to be.

 

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

Remember the small stations.  If they're playing your songs and impacting their communities, help them with giveaways, concerts and anything else you can to enhance your product across America.  We have so fewer outlets to expose our music compared to secular music that almost all stations playing CCM should be embraced and supported.

 

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

Finding great talent.  More people with real knowledge and experience are entering our world every month, but the talent pool of great strategists and powerful communicators is limited at this time.  I'm blessed that we have both at WAY-FM.

 

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

Make an emotional connection based on what the listener is already interested in.  Reflect her needs, wants, dreams, desires, fears and passions.  Empathize with your listener's hardships, struggles and lack of faith.  If you are super-spiritual, you will not connect, because you won't seem real.  Don't preach--EVER.  There are only a handful of pulpit preachers in the entire country who are gifted enough to communicate on the radio at a highly theological level.  What makes us think air personalities can pull that off?  Be the listeners friend, not her mentor.

 

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

The most impactful Christian station in America right now is Z88.3 in Orlando.  Jim Hoge and Dean O'Neal have assembled a great strategy, a compelling roster of amazing air talents, and a passion for that community that can't be missed.  Their outdoor campaign is also an example of how non-commercial radio should never limit its ability to compete on the same level as the large commercial clusters.  I also love the work Allen Power and Kevin Avery have done at The Fish in Atlanta.  That's a station that reaches it's target with radical, laser-beamed focus. 

 

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

Top ten in most rated markets.  The future is bright!
 

 

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