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Radio Interview

                                     

Chris Lash

Program Director

WFSJ

Indiana, PA.

 

 

Chris' Career Capsule
Started in Christian radio at age 13 at WCTL in Erie, PA (My highest ratings ever, during the time my voice was changing)  Have managed, programmed and owned stations in the following markets:  Erie, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Altoona, and Johnstown, PA.  Returned to Christian radio in Indiana, PA in 2002, when our company Godstock Ministries was formed, and put our first station 103.7 The Switch on the air. I also ran two newspapers in Central Pennsylvania.

 
 
1. It's been over a year since we last interviewed you, give us an update on your stations?

Our Indiana, PA station continues to make a dramatic impact in our college community. Just three weeks ago, we sold out the first Christian concert in Western PA history with the In The Name of Love tour making their last stop here.

And last December, a bankrupt church in Tampa, Florida, gave us their construction permit for a new Switch station in Zephyrhills, Florida.  With two weeks before the construction permit was to expire, we raced to Florida, built the station in 4 days, and 96.7 The Switch was born.

 

2. What is the biggest challenge you face as a small market operator?

Our first year on the air was a constant education process.  Western PA had never heard the Christian CHR format.  They didn't know who the Newsboys were.  But with sold out concerts, we have overcome this challenge.  I was amazed to see 50 year old men singing "Never Alone" by Barlow Girl at the show.  They knew every word!!
 

It's also tough to fun our Florida station from 1,000 miles away.  WIth a small staff it takes constant communication.  However techonology is a tremendous asset.  I can run the station from my laptop from anywhere if necessary.

 

3. Here is your chance to testify on behalf of your station(s)...How has God used WFSJ?

Where do I even begin.  God has blessed us so much!  The station has united churches to work together, and our growth on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been tremendous.  The station has made a huge difference with the 14,000 students at the college, and with young families.
At our recent sold out concert, over 100 came forward and gave their lives to Christ.
 

In Florida, our listeners believe the station itself is annointed.  During the recent hurricanes, we provided non stop news coverage, and the station never went off the air.  Residents have actually said to me, can we go to the station to stay, because we feel safe there.
 

And our internet stream has really been a benefit.  We've recieved emails from across the USA and from other countries including New Zealand who are listening.

 

4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your stations?

Through our relationship with CHRSN, new research has indicated that artists like Barlow Girl, Switchfoot, and Todd Agnew are the new core artists of the format.  Mercy Me and others also remain strong, but times are changing. The message, tempo and FLOW, are also huge keys to what we play.

We've also had success locally breaking some new strong artists.  We were the first station in the country to add "Cornerstone" by Day Of Fire.

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for your stations?

I came up through the radio business in the days of BIG promotions and contests.  Those don't seem to catch the attention of our listeners.

All of what we do is tied into our music.  From our Christian music skate nights, that average 300, to concerts, we give our listeners things they can't buy.  Exclusive meet and greets with the artists to autographed CD's etc.

Our Switchfoot Summer promotion sent listeners to see the band at 4 different locations.  In Florida, meet and greets, lunches etc. with our friends, new artist Everlife at Rock The Universe was also very successful. We also produce the summertime Godstock Family Festival in Pennsylvania, which thousands of people attend. And in both markets we produce The Switchover Christian music magazine.  We do a lot of recycling back and forth between the station and our print pieces.

 

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

They need to realize that the small market stations are just as important.  Right now the only service we receive are from independent promoters like Kyle Fenton, and TM Century's Praise Disc.

 

7. How do you keep the "ministry" in the business?

We think the same way that WAY FM thinks.  We are "more than just a radio station, its a ministry" Minstry is involved in everything we do, including our business underwritering.  They know why we are here, why we were called to do this, and what we stand for.

 

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

To communicate, and entertain.  Todays air personality needs to be able to relate on everything.  Things going on in the world and your community.  And then bring it to the table as it relates to Christians.  They also need to be a strong force to keep non-believers listening, and focused on the message in the music we play.  While we are all Christians, we need to be stronger seekers and witnesses.

 

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

I travel an average of 3000 miles a month between our stations. I listen to countless hours of Christian stations and I've yet to find anyone that I feel tops WAY FM.  And I'm not saying that because we're a double affiliate. I  also love the aggressive imaging of Radio U, and the overall sound of Spirit 90.5 in Tampa and Z88 in Orlando.

 

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

Moving forward through its growing pains. I think there will continue to be more format expansion into rock and even hip hop.  Its been a blessing to see secular companies embracing the format, including "The Song" in Indy.  Will the secular companies end up doing a better job then the Christian
based companies?  Time will tell, but either way, its a big benefit to the kingdom, we are all working to expand.

 

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