God placed me
in ground-breaking Christian music radio stations. I had the
opportunity to be a part of the start-up team for KLTY
twice—once with Scott Ginsburg and once with Marcos Rodriguez,
Jr. I was with Dennis Worden, Bob Lepine, Tim McDermott, and
Roy Williams at Stuart Epperson’s KCFO in Tulsa (before Stuart
joined Ed Atsinger to form Salem Communications). I’ve worked
in sports, news, talk, Christian talk and Contemporary Christian
formatted stations. After heading the CBN Radio sales group,
Salem asked me to start Salem Radio Representatives. I moved to
Salem Radio Network as General Manager to integrate the music
formats into the news and talk network. Leaving the networks, I
joined Marcos Rodriguez, Jr. to form an internet media company,
and then joined a multi‑national financial services organization
as Vice President/Strategic Alliances. In 2003, my partner Phil
Bandy and I wanted to do something that would help support those
who take the saving message of Jesus Christ to the culture.
That’s when we started Advocace (pronounced ‘advocacy’) Media.
1. How do you
keep the ministry in the business?
Our business (Advocace
Media) is one of the ways we live out our faith. Everyday, we
ponder God’s word. Everyday, we study business and leadership
principles from current business leaders and filter out those
areas that just don’t align with our understanding of Scripture.
and business issues are fully integrated, we find great liberty
and wisdom—and very little conflict. We never unplug our
devotion to God to work on business issues. You just can’t
separate the ministry from business issues or you’ll wind up
being like the rope in a good old fashioned tug-of-war.
Overall, how is Christian
radio different today from 5 years ago?
In 2005 station
incomes were growing at a pretty fast clip. As a whole,
stations were getting really good at gaining listener
involvement through share events. Now, the next frontiers of
fundraising are on-air and off-air business development as well
as major gift work. These are exciting times, but the times
require substantially different skills to lead stations and grow
income. That’s why Advocace is focusing on multi-dimensional
funding of radio stations.
What are the characteristics
of a successful Christian radio General Manager today?
Be a leader:
have a vision for where you want the station to go and,
unceasingly, help your people get the station there. I have
visited over 250 radio stations and you can actually feel a
well‑managed radio station when you walk in the front door.
(You can also feel a poorly managed station and, worse, a
non-managed station.) You can feel the energy of the staff
that knows the station only grows by working with people
outside the office. There is urgency to meet time-based
objectives—and it is a fun, victorious place to work! The
General Manager sets the expectations and the pace for the team.
How often do you feel
stations should do fundraisers?
Every day! Let
me explain. Paul writes to Timothy, “Tell those who are rich
in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money,
which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the
living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in
good works and should give generously to those in need; always
ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By
doing this they will be storing up treasure as a good foundation
for the future so that they may take hold of real life.” (I
Timothy 6:17-19, NLT) Don’t be afraid to share with your
listeners and donor prospects an opportunity to invest in God’s
kingdom. That investment will bring them closer to God’s value
system. Therefore, these donor relationships can happen each
and every day! (I really appreciate Advocace team members Mark
Kordic and Randy Bronkema reminding me of this message.)
every day we can create a conversation with our listeners to be
involved in the ministry of our station or a partner. People
want to be involved. Let’s invite them to the party.
What preparation is necessary
before a major fundraiser?
fundraiser—whether on-air, off-air, for the station or for a
partner—begins with vision—a vision discovered through prayer,
scripture study and listening to the needs of people. If we
communicate a vision about impacting others and show early
success toward that vision, listeners and prospective donors
understand their role and can prayerfully consider where they
How does Advocace Media
suggest stations identify a prospective donor?
appointed some with the spiritual gift of giving. In
essence, there are people who are—every day—looking to bless an
organization or person with a gift. They have a God-given
insatiable desire to give. Others give out of a generous heart.
and there are many who give out of a desire to simply obey
God. So where are these Gifted Givers?
Many are in
your listening audience and only give what you ask them to
give—thinking your requested amount is all you need to satisfy
God’s vision for the station. An on-air presentation of your
vision may be too simple for one of these Gifted Givers to
understand their part. It is up to us to speak with them
individually. Your board, your staff, your volunteers and your
current donors know who these people are. Just ask them to
introduce you. Advocace helps stations work on all these things
to help grow income for radio stations.
Do relationships with
businesses get in the way of relationships with donors?
donor we meet loves to hear that others support their radio
station. Regardless whether the other supporter is a donor up
the street, or a local business or a national sponsor, donors
generally like that other donors are joining with them to
support the station. Jeff Crabtree, a senior consultant at
Advocace, tells me that station managers are continually amazed
that donors favorably comment on the participation of national
companies in support of the donors’ radio station.
In your opinion what are the
biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
obstacle: a big vision that reaches beyond the walls of the
radio station. Many station leaders get so bogged-down in staff
and internal issues, we don’t see that most of the station’s
challenges are actually resolved by people outside the
radio station. That’s why most successful leaders of
non-profits spend 60% of their time working on development
issues—that’s where most problems can be solved.
A second issue
we face is the lack of young talent. Every industry needs
young, enthusiastic talent to push a team beyond the comfort
zone where 40, 50 and 60 year olds live. Don’t get me wrong, I
know some great stations fueled by great experienced talent, but
even those folks still need to be stretched with a dose of
What do you believe is the
primary role of the Development Director?
Simply put, the
Development Director helps bring the station vision to pass by
asking people to participate. Sure, there are logistical and
tactical implementation (like database development, direct mail,
email, major donor cultivation, business relationships and
more), but the successful Development Director realizes they
help steward the vision to reality. Advocace consultant Jerry
Grimes tells me that a Development Director would do well to
have a strong background in both theology and marketing.
selfish ambition in the development world gets in the way of
God’s blessing. A large portion of the Development Director’s
life is financial stewardship—recognizing that the Bible lays
strong guidance in financial matters and helping others grow
spiritually by giving. If the Development Director is only
about money and not about true discipleship, there is a great
danger for manipulation and gross insincerity in their
fundraising. I have a hard time stomaching any cynicism with
What, if any,
Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
stations innovate in different areas. I think WRBS-FM/Baltimore
does an incredible job with Facebook. HIS Radio is fabulous
with twitter. WONU/Chicagoland engages major donors in wonderful
collaborative ways. WAY-FM’s blog with Brant sets a high bar.
WAWZ/New York is doing some pretty compelling stuff with YouTube.
American Family Radio’s email program is strong. KTIS-FM/Minneapolis-St. Paul
creatively connects with the spiritual work of their community.
KCMS reaches the advertising community in fresh, competitive
ways. There are so many more, but these are the first who come
to mind in specific fields.
Where do you see
Christian radio in 5 years?
In five years,
our radio stations may be merely promotional vehicles for larger
digital venues that engage our audience in a more convenient and
more customized way. The technology adoption rates of the past
15 years will be race five to ten times faster over the next
five years. Technologies that provide a collaborative,
entertaining and spiritually engaging environment will attract
audiences that are time-pressed and relationship-starved.
The best part
is that station leaders get to make the decision to be involved
from a current position of strength (as leaders of stations with
thousands of loyal listeners and donors) or become a MySpace in
the age of Facebook. These are exciting and wonderful
opportunities to engage more people with the Gospel.