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Radio Interview

                                     

Tim Sinclair

Program Director

WAYH

Huntsville

 

 

Tims' Career Capsule

I started my career in 1997 working part-time for two different stations in Champaign-Urbana.  Within a few months I accepted the Production Director job at Mix 94.5 and WIXY 100.3Öa Hot AC/Country combo in town.  A year later I moved to Baton Rouge to work for WQCK as MD and afternoon guy.  In 2000 I headed back north to produce WMBI/Chicagoís morning show, and eventually ended up as Creative Services Director and afternoon host.  For the past year and a half Iíve been PD and mornings for WAY-FM/Huntsville. 


 

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

Huntsville has had several Christian music stations in the past 5 or 10 years, but they were both sold to mainstream companies.  So, when WAY-FM came in to the market with a full-power station a year and a half ago, people were starving for it.  That hunger really helped us start off on the right foot.  Also, Huntsville is home to NASA and a ton of other tech companies, which means that weíre flooded with young families who have moved here from other parts of the country.  Itís a Southern town full of Northerners (a.k.a. ďYankeesĒ)!


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

Thatís easy Ė changed lives.  And not just in the salvation sense, though thatís certainly important, but in the day to day sense.  Christian music has the power to offer hope and encouragement when life gets tough.  Other formats donít do that.  We hear from people every day who have been touched in one way or another by something theyíve heard on WAY-FM.  Knowing that somehow, in some small way, Iím a part of helping people make it through their day is pretty cool.  I canít imagine doing anything else.

 

3. How has God used you in your role at WAY FM?

God has given me the gift of creativity (though my parents didnít exactly call it a ďgiftĒ growing up), and WAY-FM has been the perfect outlet for that.  The goal isnít to be crazy or silly or stupid, but memorable.  Though that can be a fine line to walk, I think weíve done that really well so far.  There are so many facets to what WAY-FM does too (on-air, website, newsletter, concerts, etc.) that this crazy amount of creativity has a bunch of outlets Ė which is nice.  Iím also a very relational person, and it has been crucial to our success that we develop as many relationships as possible, both on the air and off.  Relationships equal emotional connections, and emotional connections win every timeÖespecially in a format where women are the target.

 

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

By far, the most successful things weíve done have been community focused instead of station or prize focused.  Community-based promotions do several things that giveaways (trips, tickets, etc.) donít.  First, the station and our listeners get to be involved in something positive for our area.  Second, everyone feels like a winner afterward.  If my major Spring promotion was giving away a trip, every listener (except for one) would feel disappointed when the contest was over.  Instead, thousands of people feel good about helping people in need, and, better yet, they credit the radio station for that feeling.  Finally, local television stations and newspapers love to cover ďfeel-goodĒ stories.  We recently had every major TV network and the Huntsville Times at one of our promotions!  If your goal is to get your station in front of as many people as possible and then leave them with a positive impression of you, this is a great way to do it. 


 

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

My dad is a pastor, and itís amazing how many parallels can be drawn between the problems that churches face and the problems that Christian radio encounters.  The main one is the seeker-friendly vs. ministry-minded debate.  Do you pick one strategy?  Try both?  Try different things in different dayparts?  Itís tough to fill people spiritually without turning off seekers.  On the flip side, itís hard to cater to non-Christians without leaving the rest of your audience feeling empty.  Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church in Chicago have figured this out, and Christian radio stations must do the same.  Hybels has several great books (Courageous Leadership would be an example) that apply to radio stations too!

 

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

Our role is to provide compelling content that meets the listener where she is, upholds her values, and involves her community.  That role is essentially the same for every air personality (Christian or not), though the methods can obviously be very different.  With satellite radio, MP3 players, and the internet vying for our audience now, community involvement and focus has to become increasingly important.


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

The other stations in WAY-FMís network.  Am I allowed to say that?!  I know Iím a bit biased, but Iím constantly amazed at the incredible creativity and consistent focus that our other stations have.  Itís nice to work with such a great team of people.

 

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

Thatís a pretty tough call to make, but hereís a guess.  Weíre starting to see a ton of crossover artists, and I donít think thatís going to change anytime soon.  The good news is that Christian music is finally being recognized by the mainstream world.  However, if this trend continues, the problem will be differentiating our stations from the competition.  Already WAY-FM is sharing MercyMe, Switchfoot, Stacie Orrico, and Jars of Clay with several other stations in the market, and in five years it could be a whole lot more than that.  Christian radio has succeeded many places simply because itís different musically.  If those lines continue to blur, many stations are going to have to step up their programming, promotions, and talent in order to survive.  Weíve already seen this trend with Christian retailers.  Wal-mart has put a lot of local stores out of business because they offer the same CDís and books but at better prices.  Christian radio would be naÔve to think that the same thing wonít happen to us.

        

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