In early 1990 in Gersfeld, Germany, Lisa spent
three weeks praying for God to tell her why she’s here on
earth. During that time, one afternoon while praying her guts
out, she heard “Christian radio.” On a Tuesday in July 1990,
Lisa walked into KCVO in Camdenton, Missouri, and told Jim
McDermott she would answer phones or clean toilets if she could
just be in the building. He put her on the air that Thursday.
After 5 years of hosting afternoons in Missouri, her family
moved to Iowa and Lisa found a small station trying to launch.
In October 1995, she signed KCWN on the air and worked to get it
established and staffed.
In the spring of 1997, Lisa met Dean O’Neal and
had a chance to join Z88.3’s team. During her time there, she
co-hosted mornings with Scott Smith for almost 5 years, and then
co-hosted afternoons with Dean for almost 5 years. In between
those two shows, she split for New Jersey to do mornings on Star
99.1 for a short season. Also while at Z88.3, Lisa hosted the
Weekend Top 25 Countdown for a year.
Lisa met David Pierce after her husband’s job
transferred their family to Sacramento. She joined EMF in
September 2007 to host afternoons on K-LOVE. In 2009, she moved
to K-LOVE mornings and also moved to Indiana.
Lisa and Darin live just outside of Indianapolis
with their two sons, JD and Jesse. In the past 25 years,
they’ve lived in Louisiana, Arkansas, Germany, Missouri,
Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, New Jersey, Florida, California
and Indiana. This month, Lisa celebrates her 20th
year in Christian radio.
How has the
move to Indianapolis
affected your show?
For those who don’t know, the leaders of EMF decided to move the
K-LOVE and Air1 Morning Shows to Indianapolis in December. The
move gave the ministry redundancy in case California breaks off
into the ocean, it put some of us air-talent types closer to the
bulk of our cume, and it allowed us to have a more normal work
schedule. Plus the studios and signal were available and the
timing was perfect.
The K-LOVE Morning Show couldn’t stay in the pacific time zone
and be hosted by balanced, happy people. The hours were
torturous. The answer to your question is: life is better
because our show is 6-11am and no longer the California 3-8am,
so hopefully the show is getting better and better as Eric and I
settle into a more normal Hoosier schedule and continue to
develop as new co-hosts.
After doing 3-8am for several months, we had started tracking
the first 2 hours which made me sad. You need to be awake and
alive and current and joyous and engaged and interested in life
to do a nationwide Christian morning show! Not sleep-deprived
Sidenote: Moving an entire show, moving our families, spouses
leaving jobs, with children—and trying not to miss a beat—in the
middle of winter as new co-hosts was, uh, insane? But now that
the dust has settled, my family is very, very happy to be in the
Midwest—our extended family is closer, prices and taxes are more
reasonable, and people are more…Midwestern.
Paul Goldsmith told us it would be a great move; he was right.
How has your show evolved or changed over the last few years?
That question will require a lot of words to properly answer.
I’ve been on the K-LOVE Morning Show since Tuesday, March 24th,
2009. I had a (much prayed for, much anticipated) baby in 2007,
joined EMF in 2007, had another baby in 2008, then miscarried in
early 2009. As far as radio goes, I had other things on my
mind. David Pierce, God bless him, let me host afternoons on
K-LOVE and yet gave me a lot of room to grow and heal and focus
on my personal life. As I’ve told David publicly and privately,
K-LOVE has been a healing place of “green pastures, beside still
waters” where my soul has been restored.
The day after Jon and Sherry stepped away to focus on the things
that really matter in life, my radio heart jumped into action.
I said to myself, “Just keep the K-LOVE boat afloat until they
figure out what’s going to happen in the morning. Just keep ‘er
steady, Lis, and don’t let it sink.”
After several weeks, here’s what began to crystallize: I was
going to do the show, Eric Allen is going to be my co-host, and
we were moving to Indiana.
we bought snow boots and embraced our destiny to be Colts and
NASCAR fans. We knew then (and know now) that serving on the
K-LOVE Morning Show is a privilege on many levels and we are
humbled and grateful every day we get to be there.
Roughly 347 people said to me, “You’ve got some pretty big shoes
to fill.” But honestly, I never thought about Jon or Sherry’s
shoes. I just jumped in and started doing what I thought needed
to be done, to the best of my abilities. There’s no way we
could ever replace the Rivers’ warmth and charm, or their
amazing familiarity with people in our industry. They are a
rare, one-of-a-kind team.
I dove in, just being Lisa. When you add Eric’s wit, depth, and
stability; KC Wright’s enthusiasm, sincerity, and experience;
and Amy Baumann’s solid, professional news presence: you’ve got
yourself a show! All 4 of us have been together less than a
year. BTW, Paul Goldsmith is not a part of our show, but he
does listen and occasionally send texts saying that we’re funny.
3. What morning show topics seem to be hot right
Instead of answering that question, I’d like to say that God has
really blessed us by putting Ty McFarland and Angela Perelli in
our lives. For years, I heard about how great Ty was in
programming, but this is our first time to work together. Now I
understand the hype.
The tough thing about doing what we do is the day in, day out
work of putting on a show, day after day. You develop crutches,
you repeat yourself, you lose focus, you have blind spots,
and/or you can develop a false sense of your impact or of how
good you really are. What’s worse, attrition could push you
towards a mediocre, lack-luster, oatmeal show. Oh, and then
there’s the paranoia about all these things, the wondering if
that’s what everyone is thinking about you, even though you are
Having Ty’s focus and input has been a God-send. He listens
every day, and gives us feedback every day. He has spent hours
helping us work through benchmark ideas, guests, content
filters, etc. His attention and help encourages us and makes
want to do a great job. Ty’s alright.
Angela Perelli is helping me grow. Having the outside ears and
expertise of a coach makes me feel energized and hopeful. I’m
not afraid to take chances and work hard, but I do fear wasting
my time and sucking. Angela has told me things that have
revolutionized how I do radio. She showed me some major
blind-spots and has been holding my hand as I let go of things
that make me feel safe but keep me from being great. She worked
for years with Ryan Seacrest, is smart and kind, and really
knows her stuff.
a related thought, Paul Goldsmith is a big fan of Ryan Seacrest,
even portraying him in a small off-Broadway production a few
4. What is the advantage of being on in multiple
markets such as your show is?
There are more people to give money during pledge drive.
5. What kind of promotions work best for
Christian morning shows?
Just kidding on #4—hold on just a sec—I’m still laughing. Okay,
Okay, this might be a great time to mention Paul Goldsmith
again. Paul will probably manage all Christian radio in the
universe someday. You can often hear Eric and I quipping, “You
know we’re all going to work for him someday.” So, be nice to
Paul, all. Someday it’ll pay off.
6. Do you use any show prep services… tell why or
Here’s my real answer to #4. After being on K-LOVE for a few
weeks, my roommate and best friend from my college days called.
Angie listened then in Benton, Arkansas. She now listens at
klove.com from China where she serves in missions with her
family. She told me that by hearing me put all the different
callers on the air from all the different towns and states, she
felt connected with the Body of Christ in a way that she never
had before. THIS is the best part about being national: we can
help the Body of Christ be drawn together and encouraged. And
when possible, we can motivate His people to do good on a large
a very base radio level, being national rocks because our phones
are never dead; there is story after story coming in
from…everywhere. Sometimes when I get discouraged because I
miss being “local”, I remember that—when done right—universal
7. What are the biggest obstacles facing
Christian morning radio today?
have no idea.
8. Do you think there will be more or less
morning syndication in the future of Christian radio?
don’t know, but now I feel like answering #5.
Mike Novak, Francis Chan, Max Lucado, my pastor Derek Duncan, my
husband, my heart are all saying the same things these days:
How can we really make a difference? What does that really
sound like? What can we do to outlive our lives? How do we
properly respond to grace in a way worthy of its cost?
Promotions (as well as topics, benchmarks, guests, etc.) that
originate from these kinds of thoughts are important and good.
In a recent email, Chuck Pryor said to us: “God
will never ask about our ratings when we get to heaven. Only
what we did with the opportunities He gave us.”
So using our brain, our talent, praying, listening to our heart,
leaning on the Lord to find the sweet spot of everything we do
on the air (based on whatever criteria we have as a guide) has
got to be the goal.
Balance: it’s just radio. Sometimes people need nothing more
than a friend to help them get from their garage to their office
with a song and a smile.
PS: Max Lucado’s book Outlive Your Life comes out
September. He’s giving away all his royalties to help build
wells in Uganda. We’re going to focus on the idea of “Outliving
Your Life” for all of September on the morning show. Want to
9. What (if any) Christian radio morning shows do
you consider as innovators today?
Here are a couple of stand-outs to me, though I don’t listen,
for obvious reasons, to a lot of morning radio. On a day off
recently, I streamed Z88.3 to hear Ellis & Tyler. They’re #1
12+ so I thought they deserved a listen! They sound great,
really smooth. They’re so likeable! They made me feel warm and
loved, which, coupled with many focused programming elements,
explains their great ratings.
"People may not
remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will
always remember how you made them feel." –Paul Goldsmith
And I’m a fan of Brant Hanson on WAY-FM. Sometimes I have a
smart techie-type person burn his show on CD for me and I drive
around town smiling, laughing, or thinking. Sometimes I call
people to tell them what Brant just said. Intelligent and
authentic is a good combo.
And I really like Sean & Mandy on Air1. Sean makes me laugh.
Mandy’s got great style. Lots of quirk, lots of heart, lots of
skill on their show. Plus they have Sean and Mandy’s Air 1
Dance Party on Fridays and it shakes the floor, which is very
I’m sure if I could listen more often to other shows in our
industry, I’d have many more paragraphs in this section of the
Commentary on question #9: If “innovators” means what I think
it means, then I’m going to say this—I want to listen to a show
that’s consistent, makes me feel something, makes me laugh
sometimes, and talks about things that somehow resonate with me.
I can remember things radio people said on-air over 30 years
ago, can’t you? People on the radio have made me feel angry,
alive, amazed—they’ve opened my heart up or have had me shouting
in my car. I remember days on end being riveted to Glen Beck’s
radio show during the
hearings. I remember leaning towards the radio as a kid on the
way to school, waiting for the Chicken Man to start. Get
this…every time I buy bacon, I think of Scott and Erica’s short
discussion on Mix 105.1 in Orlando TEN YEARS ago about buying
pre-cooked bacon. There are countless spoken-on-radio ideas,
jokes, discussions, honest moments, or stories that stay with
you for life. All these different jocks I remember weren’t
innovative, per se. They were good friends I never met.
10. Where do you see Christian morning radio in 5
Well, let me answer that by asking you this: How
much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck
I think I’ve made my point.