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 Radio Interview
 

 

 

Mark Hard

Program Director
/Director of Ministry Relations

Mars Hill Network

Syracuse

 

     

To contact Mark click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark's Career Capsule
Born and raised in Syracuse, NY,  Mark received college degrees in Communications and Musical Performance with a concentration in Voice. He has worked at the Mars Hill Network for 21 years starting out on the overnights in 1989.  Hosted afternoon drive for 7 years and moved to the morning show in late 2001. Currently, Mark is heard on Middays from 9:00AM – 12:30PM. Mark makes his home in Fairmount, NY and is married with two children.  Mark currently serves as Program Director and Director of Ministry Relations at Mars Hill and still finds time to sing for the Lord.           


 

1. How has Mars Hill Network evolved over the last few years?

Aside from the necessary changes in technology, our format has changed dramatically over the past 4 to 5 years.  We have slowly gone from a very conservative music format to more of an INSPO/AC format.  We found a need to clear out much of our drive times for more music/information in the morning and more music intensive for the ride home.  Additionally, with day parting we are playing more “progressive” cuts. 

With the current social and political situation and the speed with which news and changing we have created a News Director position and have expanded our news coverage both on the local and regional level.  It has become very important for our listeners to be up to date on what is happening locally, state-wide, and nationally and to know that we are not slanting the coverage.         

 

2. Has Mars Hill Network made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in any way?

The Lord has been so faithful that we have made very few changes to our operations and are actually going ahead with some expansion plans.  Our support has dropped a bit but God’s people realize the importance of Christian radio and the part it plays in broadcasting the Good News as well as helping ministries riase awareness of their work and mission.  

 

3. How does Mars Hill Network connect locally with markets?

We have a ministry team that has wheels and will travel!  Our team often fills the pulpit for vacationing pastors or churches which are looking for a new pastor.  We do many special events throughout our listening area sometimes traveling 3 hours or more to minister.  On the air we have localized promos and underwriting for each station.  We also have market–specific programming at each of our stations a couple times each week.  Each station has their own Sunday morning church service from a local church.  These are some ways that we are able to reach out to our local audiences.      

 

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

We have a fairly strict policy regarding our music.  Our music director submits cuts to a 3 person music committee who listens to each song carefully.  We ask questions we like: Is it biblical? Does this song have a clearly Christian message? Does the musical setting fit the lyrics? Are the words clearly presented? Is there excessive repetition. We also consider the testimony of the artist.  Are they living for Christ?  It becomes a question of quality over quantity.  A lot of stuff doesn’t get on the air to the tune, as it were, of  about 90%.

 

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

We have done some neat things recently with the local AHL hockey team and triple A baseball teams by sponsoring a “Faith and Family Night”.  These have been really well received.  We have extensive children’s programming and have recently partnered with Word of Life Camp and gave away 4 week long “camperships”. We have been doing more web based contests which has driven more traffic to our website. We also partner with local churches in bringing national artists in for concerts with big promotional pushes.  We have created “PEAK Partners” a way of getting our information out to the general public at several commercial locations. P E A K stands for Partners Effectively Advancing the Kingdom of God.  This has worked very well for us.      

 

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

I am very pleased with the way the record companies have come online by offering music for download for the stations.  Music can be available so quickly now and is extremely accessible.  This is one area that our music director would be better at answering as the technology has changed so much in the past 6 years since I was the music director. 

 

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

I think the biggest obstacles to Christian radio are seen by the general public as being to THEIR advantage.  Ipods, mp3 players and smart phones allow people to create their own playlists while programmers make their daily and weeklies available for download as podcasts on the web.  More and more people are not listening to the radio at all.  This diminishes the value of the on air signal and creates less donorship on the part of listeners.  It can and will hurt all of radio as we know it. 

 

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

Radio personalities are what set us apart from ipods and smart phones.  Our personalities become friends to the listener.  We offer the caring human touch.  Sometimes funny, often challenging, but we always are inviting as if to say to the listener “you are welcome here.” Announcers are more than just “jocks” introducing a song or reading a script, we want them to be “real” and offer them an opportunity to share brief thoughts with our listeners.  I’ve created hat I call “Seed Breaks.”  These are short breaks where the announcer shares some spiritual truth through some real-life experience.  They’ve become quite effective in sowing seeds. 

 

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

I have enjoyed Family Life Network out of Bath, NY I think they do a great job.  K-Love, although they lack local content and presence, do a wonderful job reaching the younger demographic with music teens and 20’s can relate to.       

 

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

I think we need to further embrace the internet with our own alternate audio streams as well as podcasts of specific dayparts so they become available when people  have the time to listen.  Radio has to become more aggressive overall to focus on localism.  People respond more when they know you are talking to them and you are the local guy in town.  Personalities have got to be seen more at public events and stations have to do a better job of “branding’ themselves so they are easily recognizable. We have a lot of growing to do in the marketplace because my fear is that in the next five years we are struggling, among the masses, to be heard at all.     

 

 

 

 

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