Mike has worked in management roles for Salem Communications for
the past 14 years. He is currently general manager of
Nashville’s 94FM the Fish, the flagship station for Salem’s
“Today’s Christian Music” network and of Solid Gospel 105FM, the
flagship station for Salem’s “Solid Gospel” network.
Additionally, he is vice president of Salem Music Network which
includes the Today’s Christian Music, Solid Gospel and The Word
in Praise radio networks. He also serves as general manager of
Salem Publishing, which includes CCM Magazine, Homecoming
Magazine, Singing News Magazine, Youthworker Journal and
Prior to his involvement with these entities, he was with CBN
Radio Network which he left 18 years ago to become one of the
founding employees of Morningstar Radio Network (now Salem’s
“Today’s Christian Music” network). In his first paying radio
job (part-time weekend jock while in college), he worked at KCFO-FM/Tulsa,
where he learned afar from a group of employees there that
became a “Who’s Who” of Christian media including Bob Lepine,
Paul Martin, Tim McDermott, and Roy Williams. Ironically, that
particular station was owned by Stuart Epperson, chairman of the
board of Miller’s current employer, Salem Communications.
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
First, I think it’s important to understand, as most of us
likely do, that we’re in the roles we’re currently in because,
for the present time, this is where the Lord wants us to be.
And we’re only in these roles to be a good steward of what He’s
entrusted to us. If you can begin with that foundation and
carry it with you daily, I think it forces you to a) be the best
business person you can be and b) to look at every situation,
whether it’s an interpersonal one with co-workers or clients or
a mass contact one through the mouthpiece of your media
vehicles, as a touch, that compounded with other touches, will
over time draw someone closer to or further from the Lord.
2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years
In some regards, it’s smaller. A lot of stations and folks made
big splashes here and there and then were no more. From a
programming standpoint, music rotations and song-adds are
occurring more because listeners like it, than because of who
the artist or label behind it is. From a revenue standpoint,
especially on the ad sales side, I think stations are getting
better at their craft.
3. What do you think are the main characteristics of a Christian
If I was hiring a GM, there are a myriad of things I would look
for. You want to hire someone who will do the right thing, no
matter the cost and who will try to do things the right way,
whether it involves treatment of employees, advertisers, the
FCC, ownership or whatever. At the same time, that someone
should be a fighter; someone who will scratch and claw and do
whatever it takes – done in the right way – to get to the
desired goals. You don’t want someone who gives things a great
shot and then says, “Well, we’ve done all we can do. I guess
we’re going to miss the mark.” In a sports analogy, I want the
guy who’s on the basketball court diving in the stands for loose
balls; the guy who’s going all out – pushing, pushing, pushing -
right to the final buzzer. That very-driven, aggressive GM you
have also should practice servant leadership. He or she should
be able to take risks and know which risks are smart ones to
take. And he or she obviously should be able to demonstrate
consistent success in building financially sound enterprises.
Last but not least, I would want a GM who absolutely knows that
this position is his or her calling and who knows how to rely
upon, trust and seek the Lord through each day’s challenges.
Maybe some day I’ll grow up to be all that.
4. What ways or methods do you think work best to keep your
Unfortunately, I know a lot of ways to do that, but I don’t
always practice them. But let’s first back up a bit. I think
you first have to make good hires. If you’re hiring the right
people, you’re hiring people that bring their own motivation to
their calling. At that point, a manager’s biggest job is to not
mess up that motivation. Give people the rope and tools to do
the job they’re supposed to do and let them do it. Along the
way, know that your staff is made up of individuals and know
that what makes each person tick varies from individual to
individual. For some, it’s recognition. For others, it’s the
opportunity to plan new projects. For some, it’s money. For
others, it’s something else. Know what that thing is for each
person and make sure you pour plenty of that thing into his or
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
In general, we all want to do promotions that are meaningful to
the listener while positively moving the revenue needle. We do
some ongoing promotions that help a lot of people keep more
money in their pocket every month. In these days, listeners
really appreciate that and they reward you with even more
your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
A friend of mine likes to point out that there’s a financial
equation to everything. In our world, whether you’re a
non-commercial station or a commercial station, growing revenue
is always a challenge. Being a commercial station, and this is
applicable to non-coms soliciting grants as well, we grow
revenue when we help our advertising clients’ businesses grow.
Even the smallest radio stations in any given market have
enough listeners, that if they all started shopping at Client A,
would overwhelm Client A’s business. So as an industry we have
to be astute in developing marketing campaigns that will move
toward that result for Client A. Our challenge is to find and
hire people who get that, and to train them and keep them
trained so that we’re able to differentiate our stations by our
ability and knowledge of how to grow a business. Most Christian
stations aren’t going to differentiate themselves by their
audience numbers, qualitative data or even relationships.
They’re going to differentiate themselves by their
aforementioned ability to drive reasonable results for their
on-air clients. Building a staff and training a staff to
consistently do that is always a challenge/obstacle, yet is of
paramount significance. Conquer that and a lot of other
obstacles suddenly go away.
7. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian
radio air personality?
Radio air personalities need to understand who they’re talking
to and what motivates those people and what’s important to
them. Personalities then need to be able to talk to those
people in a way that makes them feel like the personality walks,
most of the time, in the same places they do. “Relatable” can
be an overused word, but relatability is huge. It’s not often
that you positively impact someone’s life without effectively
being able to relate to them.
8. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
There are a lot of sharp people around. I’m always in awe of
the things the Fish-Atlanta accomplishes. They’ve done a
marvelous job at integrating support for important ministries
into the fabric of what they do, resulting in gobs of money
being raised for those ministries. And they’ve done a fantastic
job of getting on the national media buyers’ radar. They and
KLTY do amazing events as well, especially with their summer
festivals. R.C. Amer at KADI-Springfield, MO is an
out-of-the-box thinker who has done a lot of neat,
revenue-generating promotions. And gosh – hopefully without
sounding self-serving, I think our networks and stations are
doing some incredible things too, especially in terms in terms
of creating positive results for advertising clients, in terms
of developing new income streams, in terms of rewarding repeat
listeners and in terms of connecting listeners to the music.
Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Our message will always be relevant. People will continue to
come for that message when the content through which it’s
delivered is compelling. People will still want what we
deliver. Our delivery options and methods will continue to
expand from what they presently are, but if we develop
compelling content and learn how to deliver it, we will continue
to be an effective, life-changing force.