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Radio Interview

                                     

Troy West

Station Manager/PM Drive Personality

WJQ

Grand Rapids

 

Troys' Career Capsule
I started working in radio in 1980.  I was 15, and got my every kids dream job at KIKS-FM in Lola, Kansas.  I spent the entire Summer playing the commercials during the KC Royals baseball games. Once my voice matured..(hehe) I got to throw in a weather forecast or two and things progressed from there.  The day I graduated high school I was given the Morning Show gig and have done nothing but radio since.  I moved on to Joplin, Missouri in 1986 to work for KFSB and KIXQ radio which was owned then by John David, who I believe is the V.P. of NAB now. Moved to Holland, MI in 1993 to work at WJQ, left in 1995 to PD WAY-FM in West Palm Beach, Florida, came back to WJQ in 1996 for a chance at ownership and management. I now am minority owner, Station Manager and Afternoon Drive announcer at WJQ.

 

1. How did you wind up at WJQ?
 
I was working mornings at a TOP 40 format in Kansas, and was a youth director at an Assembly Of God Church.  I realized that the very things I was trying to get my youth group to overcome (i.e...drugs, sex, overcoming temptation) on Wednesday nights, I played songs Thursday morning that promoted those types of things. I'd never really listened to the lyrics much, but after paying attention I knew that God wanted me to do something else.  I talked with my Pastor and he helped me come to the decision to get into Christian radio.  I picked up a magazine from the NRB and there was only one radio station advertising an opening. I sent them a tape and was hired at WJQ.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?
 
Playing songs that actually have depth. In secular radio, I never got a call from someone who was considering suicide and thanking me for playing Like A Virgin from Madonna.  The lyrics do minister to people. The message is in the music.
 
3. How has God used you in your role at WJQ?
 
I feel like I have a gift of coming up with ideas that work.  I'm sort of known as the idea guy around here, so whenever we need a promotional idea, programming idea, or a creative way to do radio "better" they come to me. We all brainstorm for awhile, and we usually come up with an idea that works.  We were the first radio station to ever do a "Compassion International Radio Marathon"  It was effective for us, and now most stations are doing these types of fund-raisers. 
 
4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your station?
 
We look at the artist, the lyrics, and we make sure that the 18-39 year old female likes it.  After a song gets a set number of spins, we do audience research.  Our station has always gotten decent ratings, but after we started researching the songs that we play, we have gotten some of the highest ratings in the history of the radio station. 
 
5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?
 
The promotions that give our station the most visibility. We just finished our Celebration Freedom event for the 4th Of July.  We packed a lake-side park with about 20,000 people for games, music, and fireworks.  We were able to expose our radio station to a huge amount of people who had never listened. We don't have the money right now for billboards and other expensive marketing, so we look for ways to get our Logo in front of as many people as possible.  That means parades, festivals, and we have been named the "Official Radio Station Of Unity2003" which is one of the biggest Christian Music Festivals in the upper mid-west.
 
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
 
Realize that the stations that succeed are incorporating music research. We may stay on a particular song for months because it tests well and the burn rate is low, and we may drop a song quicker because of what our research tells us.  Research is working and we rely on it.  I think programmers need to be more honest with the labels too.  Tell them what we think.  Tell them why we won't add a particular song. If we are honest with the labels, then the labels can take our Yes to be Yes and our No to be No. 
 
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
 
I see many obstacles that are being overcome. Christian stations are striving to be more professional.  There's more networking.  The PD Forum that Bob Thornton started has been invaluable.  The successful stations are more open to sharing their success strategies with other stations. You don't see that in secular radio.  As far as obstacles that still need to be overcome, I read a statistic the other day that said only 20% of Christians listen to Christian radio. That's our obstacle.  What can we do to get the other 80% to listen to us?  Are we too preachy?  Have they not given us a fair chance to win them over?  We need to find out these things to see the success of the future. 
 
 
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality today?
 
Be real.  Let the audience know that you mess up.  Sound like you actually live in the listeners world.  Don't talk with Christianese.  I hear some stations whose jocks sound like they've come from another world.  If you want to succeed, just be real!

9. What (if any) other Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
 
I like WAY-FM in West Palm Beach,  some of the FISH stations, and KXOJ. 
 
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
 
Hopefully we've found out why 80% of Christians don't listen to Christian Radio. I believe we will be more polished, better funded, more relevent, and hopefully closer to the top in Arbitron.  We have what it takes now.  Great programmers, jocks, and a real vision.  Let's kick some Christian butt!

 

 

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