My first radio gig was at WBRG in Lynchburg, VA
some twenty years ago during my final college years. After
moving to Charlotte, NC to begin my math teaching career in the
public schools, I realized my love for radio and the “calling” I
felt to it was not going to go away. At roughly the same time,
WRCM was coming on the air and I began working there part-time
while still teaching.
By 1996, there was a full-time opening and Ken Mayfield hired me
as the afternoon announcer and Music Director. Over the next
several years, I had the privilege of experiencing many of the
different positions at the station from Music to Production to
Programming, while at the same time getting to be on the air –
first as evening/overnight announcer, then on to afternoons,
mid-days, and eventually mornings.
In 2000, I became General Manager of WRCM. In 2008, I had the
privilege of becoming Director of Broadcasting, enabling me to
oversee both WRCM in Charlotte, NC and WMHK in Columbia, SC
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the
My goal is to thrive in the tension between the
two – and that is not to say that the two are completely at odds
with each other. Without operating under sound business
principles, there will be nothing left to do the “ministry”. I
find it very important for me to balance how much energy and
focus I place on both. For example, by reading more than just
business books, I am (hopefully) able to keep a Kingdom mindset
on what we are doing week-in and week-out.
2. Overall, how is Christian radio different
today, from 5 years ago?
I hope… and believe… that Christian radio is more
relevant than we were five years ago. We have removed ourselves
from the pews and, instead, set up on “Main Street.” Christian
radio has gotten better at communicating the things that matter
most in life in a way that is less preachy and more in a “caring
friend next door” style.
3. What do you think are the main characteristics
of a Christian radio GM?
I’ll reword this question to answer what I think
the main characteristics are of a successful
Christian radio GM. #1 above really touches on this. A
successful GM must recognize where the intersection of ministry
and business is and do his or her best to keep the radio station
in that spot. Here are some other things that I believe
characterize a successful GM:
Let people do the jobs they were hired to do (don’t micromanage)
Show appreciation and recognize the good, hard work of others
(give credit where it’s due)
Take the blame for what goes wrong and give others the credit
for what goes right (be selfless)
Have goals and a vision and then communicate that to the staff
Get out of your office and build as many good relationships in
the community as possible
And last, but actually first on the list… invest more effort
into your spiritual life, your marriage and kids than you do
into your job.
4. What ways or methods do you think work best to
keep your staff motivated?
This is not a new quote by any means, but it is
so true. Staff members are best motivated when they have been
given a responsibility to handle something at which they are
good and enjoy & then they are also given the authority to carry
out that responsibility.
Of course, finding creative ways to show
appreciation for their work also goes a long way. 30 years ago,
it might have been enough to say, “Well, you got your paycheck,
didn’t you?” to remind staff to stay motivated, but a wise
leader realizes you’ll have more productive, satisfied staff if
you motivate them in other ways. It may be a random gift card,
a surprise hand-written note in the snail mail, a word of praise
in front of other people, a staff retreat, or maybe even an
afternoon off that does the trick. You have to know each person
and what uniquely motivates them.
5. What kind of promotions work best for
The best kind of promotions for Christian radio
put Matthew 25:31-40 into action. For too long, we have done
things that focused on us and our product and not enough things
that focus on our community and making a difference. Christians
and non-Christians alike want to feel good and know that they
are making a positive difference in their community and in the
world. We are in a great position to construct promotions that
channel that desire into worthy causes. By doing so, we are
living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ even if we don’t declare,
“Hey, look over here! We are living out the Gospel of Jesus
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can
better serve Christian radio?
From where I sit, there is a mutually beneficial
relationship between Christian record labels and Christian
radio. An MD or PD would be able to answer this question more
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles
facing Christian radio today?
dearth of on-air talent
This is a generalization, but for non-commercial,
listener-supported stations: a Christian culture that is leaning
further away from biblical stewardship of personal resources
Seeing ourselves as radio stations (transmitters with big
sticks) rather than content providers
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality?
The primary role of a Christian radio announcer
is to build a relationship with the listener. We could go on
for pages here about how that is best accomplished and, in fact,
there are good books and talented consultants who focus on how
to do that – transparency, reflecting listener values, etc.
However, the primary role and purpose of a Christian
radio announcer is to build a relationship not for the sole
reason of having a relationship, but so that in the end, the
listener is drawn closer to Jesus Christ. In fact, the way we
view it here at WRCM and WMHK, if there is anything we are doing
on-air or off-air that is not designed to contribute to the
overall goal of drawing people closer to Jesus Christ, then we
should not be doing it. That most certainly applies to the
announcer building a relationship with the listener too.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
Once you begin naming names, you’re always going
to leave someone out who deserves to be mentioned, right?
I believe any station that views themselves as competing on the
big stage with all the other stations in town, that exceeds the
expectations of its listeners, that invests in talent and the
framework to win, that does a bit of the unexpected in the
listener’s mind, that acts like they are broadcasting to a wider
audience than Bible-toting church goers and that look like they
are having a blast while doing all of this – those are the
stations I view as innovators.
But, having said all that, to now name names, I
think any list of the above should include excellent stations
like KTIS, WPOZ, and KCMS. Those guys and gals are doing
fantastic work. We all can learn from their examples.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Thanks to stations like those in #9 above, by
2015 there will be more just like them. These will be the true
content providers that have adapted and adopted new methodology
of delivering the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to
people who will need it more than ever before.
There will also be a number of stations who will
be stuck in the mode of “but this is the way we’ve always done
it” and they will continue doing the same things over and over,
hoping for different results. We can only hope that they will
be bought out and taken over by innovators who care to share the
Message of Christ more effectively.