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Radio Interview

                                     

Al Ross

Program Director

KSWP

Lufkin

 

 

Al's Career Capsule
I began in Radio in 1970... Worked my way up from small market radio through the ranks to Major market...
I've had the privilege thru my career to work with some legendary personalities, PDs and consultants... Bill Young, Ken Gaines, Jim Dunlap, Hudson and Harrigan, Tommy Kramer, Barry Kaye, Bo Weaver, Jon Rivers, John Young, Buddy Holiday, Mark Rider, John Lund, Brad Burkhart, this list goes on... and some great radio stations... KILT, Houston - KAYC, Tulsa - Y100, Florida - KSBJ, Houston - KCBI, Dallas - KSWP, Lufkin/Nacogdoches... 
 
I found the Lord, in 1979. While still in secular radio and programming a secular station Z103 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, we began a Christian music show on Sunday morning from 6a to noon... called "Life Song." We played the likes of Keith Green, Degarmo and Key, Farrell & Farrell, Sandi Patti, etc. By 1984, I just couldn't do secular any more... and the 6 hour show just wasn't enough... So, I moved to Houston where I found, accidentally, a full time Christian station KSBJ (7 years)... then, KCBI - Dallas, Marlin Maddoux, POV, USA Radio Network  (5 years) and for the last 8 years at KSWP/KAVX in Lufkin/Nacogdoches. I'm the Station Ops Manager/PD/AM co-host and webmaster. Very involved with CMB, NCRS planning committee (Co-chair with Jeff MacFarlane on the Non-com and Underwriting committees) Consult KZKZ in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

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

-- Lufkin & Nacogdoches are in the "Heart of East Texas."

-- Beautifully surrounded by the Pineywoods and rolling hills of Deep East Texas, Lufkin & Nacogdoches, only 12 miles apart, are conveniently located between major cities like Dallas, Houston, and Tyler, Texas plus Shreveport, La.  Nacogdoches and Angelina County's combined population of 122,000 people.  KSWP reaches into 12 counties though...
-- Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas, is the home of Stephen F Austin University.
-- Lufkin is the home of Angelina College.
-- Home of Crown Colony constantly rated as one of the top 5 golf courses in Texas and top 50 in the nation...

 

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

On air work, I love entertaining and informing our listener (profile name "Judy") and her family within an atmosphere of ministry. Radio is such a personal medium. I love talking to her about things that affect her life.  I love encouraging her and offering her hope and life for tomorrow... in what can sometimes be a very troubling world... I love to make her laugh and help her start her day. I co-host the morning show with Michelle...

As Station Operations Manager and PD, I love leading a staff of committed professionals. A staff who has the same goals to reach as many as possible for Christ.

 

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

Wow... So many ways... We pray with over 3000 individuals every year... God has sustained us for 19 years and the ministry has grown every year... Starting at 383 watts in 1985 to 30,000 by in the early 90's to 100,000 watts five years ago. So we now serve 12 counties. KSWP, Christian AC, has been runner up for the GMA station of the year for the last 3 years. In 1998, we added a second signal, KAVX which was recognized as the 2004 NRB Station of the year - Talk format. For a small market God has blessed us financially with an operating budget of over $650,000 a year. We are very involved in the community helping families... through a summer event fan drives for the elderly, at Christmas the Manger Network helping over 3000 families and 2000 children with toys and needs, Fall Family Fest, a Christian Entertainment showcase at the Texas State Forest Festival in front of up to 50,000 people... I could go on and on...

 

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

How much money they send us... lol... just kidding...

Seriously...
--Does it fit "the Sound" of KSWP (AC radio)?
--level of artist - whether it a core artist or not
--PD, MD and Consultants opinion,
--research 
--Content
--other similar stations

 

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

Family driven, family oriented... Focusing on what our listener finds appealing... Example... Partnering with other community organizations with a similar vision... (Manger Network - Five organizations including us coming together to meet needs at Christmas time for needy families... As I mentioned earlier... we touch thousands of lives...) Another successful idea... Coloring contests! They are great!

 

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

We have not found many problems when working with our label friends... We have a good working relationship with them. In fact we have found labels forwarding ideas that help us promote music while providing us with great promotional ideas... I.E. Bebo Norman Brown Bag lunch, Win it before you can buy it, etc. Our Music Director says one of the few areas to improve is "better bio info on artist" but overall the labels work hard and do a great job for us.

 

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

The idea that we are only a niche format.

The idea that internet music research works.
The idea that we can't be number one in our respected markets.
The idea that ... AC Christian radio doesn't need to sound consistent across the nation... when someone travels across America by car or internet...  We all sound very different... where as if you litsen to a secular AC station... They are consistent... different but similar... We are all over the place...

 

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

Be real! Not phony! Relate and touch our listener (Judy, Becky or whatever her name is). Christian radio attracts the Church body and the unchurched or unsaved. According to research up to almost 40% of  our Christian audience doesn't go to Church or know Christ.  What an incredible opportunity. A major obstacle that every programmer must answer... "How do I relate and appeal to both?"

Some say you can't, I believe you can.  It's a tall order.  But if a station PD, Manager and/or personality believe we can reach the listener with the Good News without cramming it down there throats.  We can garner a very large audience.  Which give us more to serve.  It's like the idea... Everyone loves food but it's the spice that make the food taste great.  The Good News is the spice!

 

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

How do I answer this question... I can't think of a name of a person that I've met in Christian radio leadership or management that isn't a pioneer in our field... an innovator...

So I will mention a few stations that influence how I do Christian radio...
- KSBJ, Houston, TX
- Z88.3, Orlando, Fla
- WBLJ, Champaign, Il
- KJIL, Meade, Kansas
- KLove

 

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

My first response to is... to see what's coming in the future... we must look at the past...

There are so many great resources for watching trends... here's one... Trendwatching.com... But there are many more...
Technology will continue to improve... which will continue to help us do our job...
Technology will make life easier... faster... more convenient.... or will it?
Radio is an art form, so we must continue to find ways to be more creative in this techno world...
As programmers, we can let time catch up to us... In which case we will be 5 years to late...
We must constantly ask the question... Does this relate to Judy, Becky, or whatever her name is... How does it relate to her and her family...

 

        

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