I started at
WPEO in Peoria in 1982 because they took pity on a kid with no
experience who was willing to work for free (we call these
people INTERNS now!). Eventually wound up at WIBI/Carlinville,
IL in 1988 until 2005. Did everything there. Not kidding about
that. In 2005 I joined WAY-FM as their GM in Wichita, KS.
how do you keep the ministry in the business?
Keeping the ministry focus is a
challenge when you deal with the nuts and bolts of station life,
but it's the stories from listeners that keeps the target in
focus. Life change. That's it. Nothing else matters. Isn't that
why we got into this thing in the first place???
2. Overall, how is
Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?
For some, it's not any different.
Or it's worse. Sorry, but it's true. For others, they have
accepted the fact that listeners want great content from people
who have SOMETHING TO SAY and are REAL. Those stations have
moved from where they were 5 years ago and made "Christian
radio" better. Overall, we are getting better because we are
getting away from the fluff, flake and fake of what we used to
be known for.
3. What do you think are
the main characteristics of a Christian radio GM?
Certainly not stunning good
looks! How about focus, leadership, innovation, vision and
compassion for those around them. Those seem like worthwhile
4. What ways or methods do
you think work best to keep your staff motivated?
Encouragement, understanding that
they are people with lives too, care about them as people. Oh,
and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
5. What kind of promotions
work best for Christian radio?
Ones that have nothing to do with
Christian radio. We did a promotion once, where we gave stuff
away on the air because a sponsor had provided it to us and we
thought that someone might be able to use the prize. It was a
horrible promotion. The best ones are about making your
community a better place, connecting people to other people and
the things they are passionate about, and focused on something
besides building cume.
6. How do you think
Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
Are there Christian Record labels
that don't do a good job of this? I think the ones that are
great are ones that are more interested in serving our listeners
instead of serving us. Not sure if labels test and research
their songs, but that could be an interesting tool for stations.
7. In your opinion what are
the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
Unless we are willing to put real
people on the air, make them their own "brands" and allow them
to engage the culture, we are going to continue playing music
that people can get ANYWHERE and having zero impact in their
lives. Pandora has 1 MILLION new subscribers every SECOND (that
statistic is exaggerated and totally made up...you get the
point) and some markets have more than one CCM radio outlet (we
have 6...NOT making that up!), so we had better find compelling
ways to make friends with people.
8. What do you believe is
the primary role of the Christian radio air personality?
Entertain me. Make me think. Make
me laugh. Hard. Show me your life...ALL of it...so I can relate
to you. Be that friend to me who enriches my life every time we
9. What Christian radio
stations do you see as innovators?
WAY-FM (not because I work here),
Z88.3 (the resources they have put into marketing, serving their
listeners, and plugging into their community are unparalleled),
RadioU and a few others. Honestly, most people don't innovate.
They imitate. But for the love, if you are going to imitate, at
least imitate excellence.
10. Where do you see
Christian radio in 5 years?
I think formats will disappear. I
think we will have worship music and then everything else
(horizontal music) will collect in a pool. Christian radio will
have to become radical (after we worked so hard to not cause
spiritual waves!) but not in the fundamentalist, Bible-thumping
way. We will have to get increasingly bolder and obviously stand
for something while being totally focused on Jesus and honest
about real life...our real life. Increasingly people are going
to hate Christians (and Christian radio) but they are going to
be drawn in a deeper way to JESUS and Jesus living in us. We
cannot preach to them like we did 30 years ago (or yesterday for
some stations) or point our fingers at them or act like we know
everything about the way they should go. We need to point to
Jesus while being transparent about our own brokenness or we
will fail our culture and yet again, create a sub-culture that
is safe and completely irrelevant.
Oh, and I think we will be celebrating Chris Tomlin's 78th #1