During my senior year at Messiah College, I accepted the position of
Promotions Director and Afternoon Drive host at WMSJ radio in
at WMSJ for 6+ years, where I went from Afternoons/Promotions to
Assistant PD/Mornings. I learned a lot about life and radio during
my time at WMSJ. In August 2007, my wife was pregnant and we felt
the Lord calling us to move on. That’s when I accepted the position
of Program Director/Music Director of WHCF in Bangor. It’s been a
fascinating two years, taking the station from a mostly Southern
Gospel style to now a Soft AC station and a reporter to R&R and CRW.
1. How has
WHCF evolved over the last few years.
When I was hired
in August 2007 to be the PD/MD of WHCF I had the challenge of taking
a station that had been around for 25 years, with a very loyal
following, from its format of Southern Gospel to Soft AC, while
keeping the listener support consistent at $500,000 a year.
The Board of
Directors, about a year before my hiring, had come to an agreement
that the station needed to become more contemporary and lower the
age of our demographic. My General Manager sat down with them and
described what was in the market and what some of the options were
for the direction of WHCF to go. The decision was made to make a
slow transition to the Inspirational/Soft AC format.
As the Program
Director things haven’t been easy. We’ve had our share of
complaints, but we are also seeing some great fruits from our
labor. The air staff is working hard on being real, relevant,
relatable and local, along with connecting our listeners to many of
our new artists. As examples of that connection, our “featured
artist of the week” has been a huge success during our morning show,
along with our partnership with a local Christian concert promoter.
We still hear
from the older crowd who wants more of the Southern Gospel back, but
we have seen a huge influx in the 35-54 year old demo. We also
reached our Pledge Drive goal of $530,000… the highest ever raised
in the 27 year history of WHCF.
WHCF made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in
Over the last 5
years, as a Ministry, we have had staff changes to better manage
resources, but they were non-format related, or necessarily due to
the economy. Bangor Baptist Church owns WHCF and WHMX. Between the
two stations, we are down to a total of 7 Full-Time staff, and 2
is Bangor a unique Christian market?
Let’s see… there
are no Christian stations in Boston (MA), or Harford (CT), or
Providence (RI)… much bigger cities in New England. WHCF was the
first full-time Christian station in the state of Maine over 27
years ago, and for some reason the stations are flocking to this
year, instead of going for the masses of people in those bigger
cities. When I get in my car in the parking lot of WHCF, I can tune
into 8 other Christian FM signals. That’s a total of 9… in Bangor
Maine! That makes no sense to me, when major cities in New England
don’t have 1. I would say that makes Bangor a unique market.
criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?
This is always
one of those tough questions to answer. I don’t have a written
checklist that each song must pass in order to get added. I look at
national test scores. I look at the charts. I look at local and
national sales numbers. I listen to the sound of the song to see
how it fits with WHCF’s unique music mix. I also play songs for
co-workers to get their opinions, and I go with my gut.
5. What kind
of promotions work best for Christian radio?
think anything! Especially in this economy, they want anything
free! Free CDs, free concert tickets, free overnight stays, free
gift certificates. But obviously, the best promotions are the ones
where real ministry is being done.
6. How do you
think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
I think a
struggle is what huge difference in musical styles across the
country. What works in Orlando doesn’t necessarily work in Bangor.
A lot of people working at the labels do not have any radio
experience and that can make it hard to communicate some things.
But I have
noticed that some labels are now starting to get it. INO sends me a
“story behind the song” for nearly every song they release. That is
so important to my station… listeners want to know that stuff, and
hear it from the artist themselves. Sending out artist tidbits and
such are so important.
7. In your
opinion, what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio
guess it can all come back to that. We have such a small staff… 7
full time staff, and 2 voice trackers…. That’s our entire staff for
2 stations. The toughest part is that we want to do so much, but
don’t have the man power or financial ability to do it all… yet.
God continues to bless WHCF, and I see big things in our future. As
I said before, we had the biggest Pledge Drive ever last year, and
we are in a better place financially than we’ve ever been.
8. What do
you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air
The station (not
just the air personalities) need to be more Real, Relevant, and
Relatable. Some stations are doing very well at this, and some
stations are not. The more Real, Relevant, and Relatable that we
have become in the past year, the more we are seeing our listeners
consider us their family. You never let family down.
9. What (if
any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
I could mention
some stations, but here’s the thing… I really think a lot of “small”
stations are the ones who are really starting to do some great
work. I know everyone lists the same large market stations when
asked this question, but I think a lot of great “small” stations are
going unnoticed for the work that they do.
10. Where do
you see Christian Radio in 5 years?
God has worked in this ministry for the last 27 years, and many
stations just like WHCF are out there doing great things for the
Kingdom. I know there is a lot of “gloom and doom” thinking for
terrestrial radio… but I am not one of them. I am seeing people get
real excited about the direction of this station, and I see a good
future for radio. People like their iPods and things, but after a
while they miss their “family”. As long as we keep working at that,
we’ll be okay.