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Radio Interview

                                     

Keith Stevens

MD/PM Drive

WAWZ

New York

 

 

Keith's Career Capsule
I began my journey in CCM radio at Westminster College in ’84 and picked up part time in the same format at WKTX  in ’86.  (My first GMA was 1987!)   Growing up in NJ, my goal was to work for Z100 - New York. In 1987, my prayers were answered! I went from being the promotions “kid”…to “Bubba the Love Sponge” on the Z-Morning Zoo with weekend air-shifts! I still have the tapes and the memories from those amazing days in the late 80’s at Z100. What a blast! 

By 1990, I started re-thinking CCM and hoped that I could contribute what I had learned from mainstream. It was then that WWDJ-New York hired me for PM Drive/MD, and I went on to become PD/AM Drive there for the next several years. My travels took me to part time at Y100 (new rock) and ALICE 104.5 Philly (rockin’ hits) while working fulltime with AM/FM Interactive. I also developed Web Radio for Lucent Technologies while moonlighting weekends at Q104.3 –New York, classic rock.

The highlight of my career has got to be the last 5 years here in my own backyard at STAR 99.1!  Hosting PM drive on 50,000 watts in the largest radio market in the country like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. This has got to be the best audience in all of America. Thank you God!

 

1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”? 

Each day I pray and ask God to use me in some small way, knowing that something I say may bring a new perspective, make someone laugh, or even change a life.  When I pick up the request lines, it’s not “caller #9” on the other end, it’s a human being who has just taken time out of her busy day to share some exciting news, or to tearfully tell me it’s the worst day of her life.  And she chose to share with me.  That’s one of the greatest privileges of my life. 

 

2. Overall, how is Christian Radio different today, from 5 years ago?

CCM radio has become more widely accepted in the industry as a legitimate format.  Here in the northeast, 5 years ago, if you told someone in mainstream that you work CCM, they would have said, “What’s that”?  Now, the format is more widely known and accepted.  It’s exciting that a few mainstreams have decided to dip their toe into CCM, but I think they’ve got a lot deeper to go.  There’s a real goldmine waiting that they have yet to discover.

 

3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian Radio PD?

Given the ever changing radio landscape, it’s imperative for any PD to stay on top of format changes in their local radio market.   New York has seen several major FM format changes in the last 12 months alone.  Each one of these stations has the potential to steal away cume.   Effective PD’s need access to online audience research and music testing, along with the ability to make strategic decisions  based upon market trends and ever changing demographics. Coaching talent and retaining top performers are essential qualities for any PD.

 

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

As Music Director, I test songs weekly with our Listener Advisory Panel.  Songs must score above a certain threshold in order to be considered for airplay. We constantly monitor the passion that a song receives, and consider weekly movement on the national charts.  I regularly pre-test a number of potential new songs, as well as currents, and our regular library. We break these tests up throughout the calendar year. Testing  weighs heavily on which songs are added, and on what rotation they receive.

 

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

I don’t think promotions are as much about the prize as they are about people.  What an opportunity we had as a station to raise money for flood victims last April.  It was a daily promotion of collecting money and giving away prizes for stopping by the van to see “Noah”.   Visibility is the key to promotions.  One of our most successful events this year by far was the  Empty Shoe Memorial for 9/11.  There were no prizes for that. But there was plenty of visibility – including coverage in both newspapers and TV. 

 

6. How can Christian Labels better serve Christian radio?

Wow! They do a great job and I really enjoy interacting with all of them on a weekly basis.  There seems to be so much product and not enough playlist.  Perhaps the advent of HD radio will open up more exposure for artists.  Also, I’ve found it easier to digest the weekly music calls if the record rep is just pushing one or two really good songs…three at the most.   

 

7.  In your own opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing CCM today?

There’s a huge need for dollars to be spent on marketing and promotions for CCM radio.  The public can’t support you if they don’t know you exist.  Funding not only gives stations the opportunity to increase awareness, but the ability to change perception.

 

8. What is the primary role of the Christian radio personality?

The primary role of the CCM personality is to reflect , in compelling and entertaining ways, your target’s lifestyle.  Be real.  Empathy, compassion, and appreciation are keys in communicating successfully in this format.  Have fun and make the show your own!  Don’t  focus on you, focus on your listener.  If you went into the CCM format expecting to be a star, you may be disappointed.  

 

9. What if any Christian stations are innovators today?

So many stations are working diligently and making excellent progress in their respective markets.  I personally find when I’m not monitoring STAR 99.1, I find myself listening  to and greatly respecting KLTY and WAY FM. They’re a proven commodity  in both presentation and consistency, giving them the staying power that so many desire.  I’m so appreciative of the impact that they’ve had in helping the format as a whole to be where we are today. 

 

10. Where do I see Christian Radio in 5 years?

Live and local is the key.  I anticipate more music intensive stations, less long form programs, more 1 minute features.  Personalities will  reflect lifestyle and cast a wider net.  Songs with compelling lyrics always win. Just look at Casting Crowns. There will be less attempts to “hit people over the head” with the Gospel.  Instead, people will listen, and on their own, they’ll begin their journey of faith and will credit your station for pointing the way.  The best is yet to come, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.

 

 

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