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Radio Interview

Jeff Connell

Program Director

WAY FM

Denver/Colorado Springs
 

To contact Jeff click here
 

 

Jeff's Career Capsule
I started as a novelty act at KUBE Seattle…volunteering and begging my way on the air as “Baby DJ Jeff” when I was in middle-school.  Produced a morning show at KBKS Seattle, then moved for college and worked weekends, then nights at KZZU Spokane.  Back to KBKS for late-nights and programming utility duties, then back to KZZU to finish school and served as Nights/Imaging Director.  Met my wife Tawsha at KZZU, and we both found jobs with CBS Seattle, putting me back at KBKS adding KYPT, KRQI, and KJAQ duties as well as some projects at other Jack FM’s and several other CBS stations.  I also started my own voiceover and production business jeffsvoice.com, and started VT’ing weekends, then middays, then afternoons at KDUV, afternoons, then middays, and now nights at CHRSN, and early afternoons at WAYK/WAYG Michigan.  I now program and host afternoons at WAY-FM Colorado. 

 

1. How has KXWA evolved over the last few years?

This station was started with a mission to attract a slightly younger demographic than CHRSN and our other WAY-FM’s.  That remains the case, but when it was launched, it skewed a bit more rock than where it is today. 

There have been some changes in airstaff, some musical adjustments to move to where our audience’s tastes have moved, and probably most significantly, while the station started at one signal serving Denver and Fort Collins, we now reach Colorado Springs, Trinidad, Fort Morgan, and Sterling. 

We want to be promotionally involved in events and causes our listeners care about, and we make a concerted effort to do so, even with a large geographic reach.  We have also embraced and actively utilize our social-networking in ways we never had before. 

 

2. Has KXWA made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in any way?

We definitely feel blessed to have hit pledge drive goals in the midst of a tough economy, and are grateful for what we feel is an extraordinary provision from God.  We feel the responsibility to be good stewards with what our listeners have sacrificed to support this ministry, and I work for GM Zach Cochran who balances that very carefully.  He has set the tone for our station, and we make sure any purchase or spending is essential and has a purpose that furthers our mission.   

 

3. How is your coverage area a unique Christian market?

With the arrival of PPM, we’re seeing that Denver is a market that loves Christian music, and that makes us very excited for even more potential of lives being changed. 

We share the market with stations with stronger signals, so we are trying to be even better at doing what we do.  There are always unique challenges covering 5 unique markets and trying to ensure the product and on-air content applies to those localities without alienating others, but we do all that we can to be present on the streets and offer unique content on-air to each as well. 

 

4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?

Does it fit our mission to reach youth and young adults…does it match what works here…and is something decidedly Christian that will offer something beyond background music to our audience. 

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?

Our team has seen a great response when the promotion centers around philanthropy.  If it’s a chance to nominate pastors to go on a helicopter tour and pray above our cities…or a chance to bring food to a food bank and see a free show…those have had great responses. 

We also just finished an event with Hawk Nelson where the guys hung out at Starbucks for an hour just to say hey.  We had about 150-200 people come by.  Starbucks was pleased, our listeners loved it, and the band was really into it as well.   

 

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

On the whole, I deal with a lot of great reps who are eager to do things that work and willing to help us do what we do.  I think we all are going to have to be open to reinvention and continue to push each other to try new distribution methods (iTunes instead of cd’s, etc.) and though we all are dealing with smaller budgets than ever before, the potential to use social media in contesting will be essential. 

I also worry that with the loss of some CHR’s over the last couple years, it’s becoming harder for labels to give us songs that are great fits for CHR.  Instead, it feels that sometimes the songs we end up getting are home-runs for A/C, but don’t necessarily give the CHR side the tools we need.  I know most of the labels I deal with totally get this and are fighting to protect our needs.  I appreciate that and hope they continue to have our backs that way. 

 

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

I think the message we are blessed to share is the greatest story ever told…and the best part…it’s the ultimate truth too.  I think there’s a hunger for the hope that we can provide and the more we can get out in front of people with our message and give them a chance to see us as more than just a radio station, the better we’ll be.  That can be difficult with small staffs and people wearing more hats than ever before…so funding and staff size are the biggest two in my mind. 

 

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

To live life, in all its glory and pain, as honestly and transparently as possible.  I think there’s a skepticism for and rejection of anyone who says they’ve got it figured out.  Our jocks will share celebrations and victories, and also struggles and failures.  I think a great “show” should be one where the conversation on-air could mimic a bunch of friends sitting around sharing life at college…or a conversation from small-group that week.  Our morning show, led by Brant Hansen, has set the tone in a new way at our station, and we all share the belief that sharing our struggles is as important, if not more so, than our blessings.  It’s disarming, in a really incredible way. 

 

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

I am really proud of and happy to be working for the group I do, and have seen firsthand the desire to look at everything and explore the ways we can and should grow and innovate at both CHRSN and our Colorado network.  I love watching WAYK/WAYG Michigan and what they’ve been able to do musically there, and I’m amazed constantly by what WPOZ has done to be a vital local connection in Orlando…not just a radio station.  KSOS in Las Vegas has done some truly amazing things in the last year.  There are a number of others I admire greatly and learn from as well. 

 

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

I think the defining characteristics will be personality and connection.  People have more options than ever to find their music…so it’s what we add to it that will define our product and our purpose to our audience.  I think distribution platforms will continue to evolve, streaming in cars and iPhones taking the place of the traditional radio, and thus, we’ll have to be more about the relationship than the city in the legal.  Honesty, transparency, connection, and accessibility (with the next “Facebook” and social networking tools) will be key.

 

 

 

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