How is the Atlanta Christian Radio market different
today from one year ago?
Not significantly. Itís still one of the most
competitive markets in the country. Weíve had just a
ton of rim shot stations move in during the past two
or three years so the pie keeps getting cut into more
and more pieces. With the exception of one of the CHR
stations no one has seen their 12+ ratings go up or
down more than a point in a year. One of the major
mainstream stations, Star 94, went through a major
staff shake up at the end of 2002 and we were able to
pick up a couple of tremendously talented guys in our
Afternoon drive host Kevin Steele and Production
Director Jack Cone. Heritage AC Peach dropped that
name in favor of Lite.
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you
personally about Christian radio?
Being used by God. Iíve been doing this for 24 years
and it still amazes me how the simplest things, when
done in the context of service to God, can make the
most profound impact on the lives of listeners.
3.Tell us about your decision to air John Tesh on
Itís a huge point of differentiation for us, from our
in format competitor and the rest of the market. And
itís an opportunity to gain some ground in a strategic
daypart. Tesh is a known commodity with huge appeal.
Combine that with the chance to program our music and
it was a no-brainer.
4. What is the criteria that determines if a song
receives airplay on your station?
We have two considerations, which is I think what
really sets us apart from mainstream radio. The first
is there must be a discernable, defensible message.
The second is that a record must fit in with the
overall sound of the station. If a record meets both
of those criteria it still has to have the potential
to be a bigger record than anything else I have on the
air at the time, and there has to be an open slot on
my playlist. Those slots are getting fewer and
farther between, so a record really has to be a slam
dunk before it gets on the air.
5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?
Those that touch an emotional chord with the
listener. Every year we do a Valentines promotion
with a local childrenís home, inviting listeners to
make valentines for the kids. We literally get
hundreds of thousands of valentines every year. We
did a ďHome for the HolidaysĒ promotion for Christmas
2003 where we flew a listenerís family into
Atlanta for the holidays, big dinner, new dining room
suite, that kind of stuff. What made that contest a
success was that we tied into the emotions of family
and tradition for the holidays. Anyone can give stuff
away, but if you can hook the listenerís emotion then
you got Ďem.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better
serve Christian radio?
Sign fewer artists, release fewer records. Work with
us to help develop artist awareness beyond their
latest single. This is still very much a song driven
format, not an artist driven format. We can help
swing that if radio and records can work together to
keep artists visible even when they donít have a
In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing
Christian radio today?
Anonymity and under capitalization. Weíre still, for
the most part, not committing the resources necessary
to cut through the clutter. There are plenty of
Christian stations that are doing a lot of things
right, that sound great, but not enough people in
their markets are even aware that there is a Christian
station in the market.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality today?
Doing something today that gets the listener to tune
in again tomorrow.
9. What (if any) other Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
I think true innovation is rare and largely over
rated. Apple is one of the most innovative companies
in the world but their market share is practically
insignificant. I think there are quite a few
Christian stations that sound great, but Iím not aware
of any that are truly innovators.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
You know 10 or 12 years ago Christian radio was gonna
be the next Country radio, huge growth, the major
players adding Christian stations. It still hasnít
happened. I donít think the mainstream guys, for the
most part, understand what really is different about
Christian radio. Itís more than the music. And on
the Christian side no one has stepped up with a
commitment of resources significant enough to make a
difference that gets noticed. Yeah, there are a
couple of success stories, and a couple of companies
are spending some money on TV in a few markets, but it
hasnít been enough to make us much more than a
specialty format on a national level. So 5 years from
now weíll be pretty much where we are right now, or
weíll all be working for K-LOVE and
Salem, but what do I know?