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Lisa Williams

 

Mornings

 

KLOVE

 

     

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Lisa's Career Capsule
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.


 

1. 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 haters.

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.

 

2. 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. 

Whoa.

So 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. 

So 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 now?

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 trying.

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.

In a related thought, Paul Goldsmith is a big fan of Ryan Seacrest, even portraying him in a small off-Broadway production a few years back.

 

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, alright…

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 why not?

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 scale.

On 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 trumps local.

 

7. What are the biggest obstacles facing Christian morning radio today?

I have no idea.

 

8. Do you think there will be more or less morning syndication in the future of Christian radio?

I 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 join us? 

 

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 personally entertaining.

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 quiz.

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 Terri Schiavo 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 years?

Well, let me answer that by asking you this:  How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

I think I’ve made my point.


 

 

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