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Radio Interview

                                     

Ken Burns

Operations Manager

WCVK

Bowling Green, KY

 

 

Ken's Career Capsule
Started out 20-something years ago just getting on the radio whenever I could. Since then, at various places, I have been the college student studying broadcasting, the fill-in weekend DJ, The Morning Show guy, the Music Director, The Program Director, The General Manager, the IT guy, and the engineer in a pinch. Today I am Operations Manager at Christian Family Radio in my adopted hometown of Bowling Green, KY. We have stations in Bowling Green and Owensboro and are looking to add several more.

 

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

I remember "back in the day" an argument among our staff as to whether we were a ministry or a business. Our board president said the answer was "yes."

We're a business, alright. But the business of our business is ministry.

I love Christian Radio, but I also see it as a means unto an end. Our "product" is Jesus. Our mission statement uses the equation M=CE2, a knockoff of the famous Einstein equation. Basically our mission (m) is to connect (c) people to Jesus, encourage them to grow in their faith and to encourage them to go forth in His Name. (e2).

 

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

We've come a long way, baby! The numbers prove it. We're doing a better job competing with all the other stations on the dial. Considering the filth that is on some of those stations, they NEED the competition. And with more "competing" Christian stations in many markets, we tend tend to make each other better.

 

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

Today's PD is more like a PhD. You have to be proficient in so many areas ranging from managing staff to number crunching to being up on the latest current events. Having a few pastoral genes locked somewhere in your DNA also helps.

 

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

At CFR, our music committee has to be in agreement that a song is a good fit formatically and lyrically. Will listeners like it and will it at least loosely point them to Jesus? Clean and family-friendly is good, but not necessarily good enough. This is Christian music. It's OK to mention Jesus. Really.

 

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

We try to keep things simple. We like to make prize winning easy. We like to make participation easy but relevant in relation to what people care about.

This past summer, we did a campaign with "Soles 4 Souls" and collected over 4000 pairs of shoes for people in Darfur, Sudan. Almost everyone knows the about the terrible things happening there and here was an easy way to help. Almost everyone has several pairs of shoes that are still quite good that would be a blessing for someone. So we collected the shoes at several convenient drop-off points and we were overwhelmed! The 4000 pairs our listeners gave more than doubled our highest expectations!

 

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

Help us 86 this whole Performance Rights Tax thing! If radio airplay is so valueless to the music industry today, why does the music industry spend millions of dollars every year trying to get their music on the air? We all want artists to be fairly compensated. That won't happen if they lose airplay!

 

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

The Performance Rights Tax could be the most major obstacle we have faced in the history of Christian Radio. The big conglomerates might be able to weather it, but this has the potential of bankrupting small and non-profit broadcasters. Just ask any small webcaster.

 

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

Connection. We have to make a connection with our listeners. Connect them with Jesus. Connect them to the artists. Connect them to your station. Connect them to each other. Connect them to yourself. When someone I've never met treats me like they've known me for years, I know I am doing something right. That's because if someone listens to me or anyone else on CFR for very long, they really do know us.

 

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

I think we've held our own reasonably well in that department, especially for a small-market station. But when I grow up, I want to work for Z88.3 in Orlando! They do it right!

 

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

The sky is the limit. I'm an HD radio optimist. I believe it will catch on sooner or later and when it does, there can be 3 Christian stations for every one when taking multicasting into account. There will be more competition as Wi-Fi and Wi-Max becomes more commonplace, but that can also be good for us. I for one look forward to listening to our webstream in my car while on vacation 1000 miles away!

 

 

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