Peter helped get the first FM Christian music station in Massachusetts
off the ground, WYCM. As a member of the New England
Preparatory School Youth Chorale, performed with Judy
Collins in Boston Symphony Hall. Before high school ended,
was a student of the WNSH internship program. As a college
intern and staff member at Keymarket of Ohio (WSTV, WOMP-AM, and
Froggy 103.3), reported the news, wrote commercial copy,
and worked on the street team. I also started the WNSH
Foundation and served as a Navteq traffic reporter, a WRKO
producer, an assistant to rock DJ legend Dale Dorman at the
former Oldies 103.3 Boston, and an intern-writer-producer at WBZ
I served as a full-time anchor and reporter at WNTK in New
You’ve been very active in trying to bring a
Christian Music station to Boston. How did this movement come
Massachusetts has been wanting a Christian music radio station
for a very long time, and many have attempted to do what God's
allowing us to do here. Christian music radio is a concept that
naturally draws excitement from people of faith when you mention
it. So a better question might be, how couldn't this movement
On Pearl Harbor Day, 2004, I was blessed to
guest-host a music program on our Salem station here in Boston,
and at some point, I expressed a minor annoyance at there being
no full-time music station. The then-Salem Radio Boston
producer David Capps suggested I start one.
In 2005, a fellow college student, Jana
Schneider, and I begun a weekly 2-hour music broadcast on the
500-watt WNSH as a starting point for what we called the "Boston
FM Project," a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing
people together for a full-time uplifting and encouraging music
choice. One of Emerson College's DJs eventually took over as
our talent. USAi.net agreed to help us out with free Web
hosting, and so many other community organizations just seemed
to jump to our aid. The enthusiasm was -- and is -- palpable.
May 20th, 2006 was our "Come Together"
Conference. All the powerful frequencies were and continue to
be occupied, but none play contemporary Christian music. New
York sees hundreds of thousands tuning into the Star (WAWZ)
quarterly. Everyone knows how popular The Fish 95.9 is in Los
Angeles. We see Christian music thriving in Chicago, San
Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston. Everyone listens to
uplifting and encouraging music in Atlanta.
Our alternative to finding a vacant frequency was
to raise $100 million and buy out an existing FM station. As a
college student, I thought to myself, surely, with the missions
budgets of the church in America, there ought to be $80 million
out there for this mission. That was not God's plan, though, and
so Schneider and I resigned to put the project on the back
burner for a while and wait on God.
In a matter of years, God blessed us in a couple
of ways as a gentle, fatherly urging to stay the course. First,
we have a business model that we didn't necessarily see back in
even 2006. Since 2006, uplifting music radio has grown, not
just in listenership but professionally. There used to be a
mom-and-pop type of sour-grapes attitude that audience size
doesn't matter, but today uplifting and encouraging music
stations are better equipped to draw large audiences. Arbitron
numbers agree that the audiences are definitely there in all the
other top-10 markets. The WNSH Foundation is very much indebted
to all the stations that have come up with this model.
Sometimes we receive surprise blessings -- like our online
Webcast. God's been very good to us in that respect.
Another thing that's changed since 2006 is that
WNSH got FCC approval to boost its signal to 30 thousand watts.
So now, the signal covers from the southern tip of Maine all the
way down to the Back Bay of Boston, Cape Cod, even parts of the
South Shore of Boston. And this is just the beginning.
2. What is the current status of your project?
God has given
us 30 thousand watts and an online Webstream for two hours a
week every Sunday.
The former is generously provided by WNSH-owner Keating Willcox,
and the stream is given to us free of charge by some friends at
ministry partner GSW Corporation.
We've only been on the air at 30 thousand watts
for a couple months now, but the response among pastors has been
nothing short of overwhelming, so much so that we're sponsoring
a meeting at the Beverly Library Saturday, August 7th to get
their input about how we can best serve them. We're also going
to have a performance by Boston artist Emily Hatcher Pratt, who
has been another incredible blessing to the Foundation. We do
have a big need for volunteers and donations, but we know God
will provide, and when He does, we'll be ready to share His love
with greater Boston.
When the resources are there, we're ready with
WNSH to provide air-time virtually whenever we need it. We're
ready with New Englander Jonathan Monk and Dianna Kelly, a
proven DJ morning team, which will save us the resources of
having to play DJ-matchmaker. USAi.net has been with us from
the very beginning, volunteering their Web hosting services at
no cost when we're ready to provide the design. Plus, a
Wakefield C.P.A. named David Feeley is guiding us with
invaluable business counsel, also free of charge. Not to
mention, our Facebook page, WNSH.com 1570, seems to show
that people really love TobyMac, Amy Grant, David Crowder Band,
Kutless, Sanctus Real, Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Third Day,
Emily Hatcher Pratt, Britt Nicole, Bethany Dillon, Josh Wilson,
Jimmy Needham, Mercyme, Jars of Clay, Mikeschair, and the
3. Do you believe the market will support you?
The other markets have shown us that women 25 to
54 want an uplifting and encouraging music choice. It's just a
matter of time before it happens here. When our team first
started our radio show, we got so many calls I was concerned
that there might be copycat stations, but on second thought,
that would be a delightful dilemma to have.
Right now, the area bookstores tell us that
online Webcasts are a big way that Christian music fans get
their music, but it's not meeting the need. Also, movies like
"Fireproof" and "Walk To Remember" have definitely primed their
ears for more. Massachusetts also knows the big uplifting and
encouraging artists from national media appearances, like late
night comedy shows. I think the labels are definitely doing a
good job in that respect. You know that uplifting music is big
when the astronauts are listening to the Newsboys in space. The
biggest demand for uplifting music is in the Christian niche,
4. Why do you think Boston does not have a full
time Christian music station?
I think Massachusetts is distinctly different
from the rest of the nation, though I can't put my finger on
how. We need the love of God here just like everywhere else,
and the WNSH Educational Foundation will share that love. I
think what's more important is that God is moving in a really
powerful way here now.
5. What kind of promotions work best for
First off, we call media outlets playing
Christian music "radio stations," but I think even despite
radio's legacy, we'd do ourselves a disservice by calling
ourselves that -- a "radio station." We call ourselves WNSH.com
1570 because we're not just a terrestrial radio station, though
the station is an important part of our work. Our goal is to
become an integrated new media ministry. Sure, we play the best
music in town, but we're also a community networking resource.
We want to be there when people need prayer and don't know who
else to turn. We want to be available on someone's iPhone when
they travel outside the coverage area.
We're not just providing intangible content over
multiple platforms -- we're part of a continuous dialogue with
our audience. So I think that much more important than what
kind of promotions work, be it a Relay for Life or an artist
concert, is how consistently our message reciprocates the pulse
we have on our audience over all of our content platforms.
While starting up a new Christian music radio
station is a challenge, one advantage we have over the older
stations is that our leadership is not restrained by the perhaps
crippling idea that the terrestrial radio frequency must be at
the center of everything we do. In the old model, the
programming director sets a theme and feel for the general tone
of the station, and based on that, the promotions department and
Web designer go about building their departments to match the
radio signal's content. Sometimes that radio-centric model might
be prudent, but in the Web age in Boston, I believe it's
necessary to build a business plan focused on a central theme,
which in our case is the Love of God. Like a movie or an
amusement park, that theme must be fully developed, not just in
the traditional radio programming style sense, but with strong
thematic visuals and interactive content capabilities in mind.
I think what makes promotions effective is how
consistent and centralized the promotional message is across all
media platforms that represent the ministry, more so than what
promotional venues are used to convey that message.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can
better serve Christian radio?
Our listeners would love a label-sponsored
concert to raise money for the WNSH Educational Foundation.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles
facing Christian radio today?
I think the biggest obstacle for Christian radio
Again, I'd say a radio-centric view rather than a
centralized media message is an obstacle. When you think of
Disney, you don't think, "Magic Kingdom" or "Disney Channel" or
"Radio Disney" or "The Palace Theater." You think, "Mickey" or
"Hannah Montana" or "The Jonas Brothers." You don't associate
Disney with any one medium, because the media don't have any
inherent meaning, and psychology 101 tells us that what people
remember most is the meaning the words and images have rather
than the words or images themselves. In some form, all those
personalities I mentioned span all of the media and venues
mentioned. (i.e. Mickey and Hannah and the Jonas Brothers are
all at the Magic Kingdom, on the Disney Channel, and on Radio
Disney. The channel or venue is secondary to the content.)
When we are broadcasting uplifting music
full-time, we don't want our audience to think of just "WNSH-AM
1570" or "WNSH.com." We want the Web site to constantly refer
people to the on-air signal, and vice versa, as efficiently as
possible. Hence, WNSH.com 1570. But even WNSH.com 1570 is just
a point of access to the artists, and the meaning -- God's love.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality?
Expounding on my belief that radio is just one
piece of the Christian media entity puzzle, the primary role of
the uplifting and encouraging radio air personality, apart from
loving his or her audience, is to follow the lead of the team
that determines the ministry's centralized theme. A good piece
of music generally includes a theme and variations, a chorus and
verses. I'd say a Christian media entity, centralized around a
common message, needs to function like a good piece of music.
If the theme of the station is "love your
neighbor as yourself," a team, perhaps comprised of a program
director, a Web designer, a video producer, and a spiritual
director, should determine what the "variation of the month
is." Maybe the January variation is "love your spouse." In
February, the variation is "love your friends." And so on.
Well, a movie production team would outline what costumes would
be needed to make a movie called "love your neighbor as
yourself," what kind of set design, what kind of actors best fit
the part, and that sort of thing with the director. That
production plan determined by a centralized creative team
determines the budget, and everything flows from that plan.
More and more Christian media entities are moving
toward that centralized movie-like continuity, and I think
that's a good thing, but I know a day will come when a "Spring
Into Fitness" promotion will include a pair of sneakers running
across the Web page, and maybe even flower-shaped buttons for
the entire Web site during that promotion. The continuity's
there now, but the degree of it will increase.
The air personality, as a member of the "cast"
and as a missionary, should follow the lead of the centralized
creative team, as in a Christian movie.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
We're indebted to many innovators in the field.
We owe and will owe any success, God-willing, to those who have
made Christian music radio as popular as it is, in
Massachusetts, the United States, and around the world. Every
Christian station, and specifically every Christian music
station, is an inspiration to us.
KSBJ is very
effective at and blessed in what they do. When I listen to KSBJ,
I feel the love of God. KSBJ seems to achieve the ideal message
consistency I was talking about earlier to a greater degree than
many, in my opinion.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
I can only really talk about Massachusetts, and I
know God is doing something really great here. We're extremely
thankful to all of what we consider our "brother and sister"
stations that have paved the way for the WNSH Educational
Foundation to take over WNSH.com 1570 with uplifting and
thankful for the tireless work of our interim Church Growth
Specialist, Jacqueline Lacy, and for Jana Schneider, our first
"Boston FM" vice president returning to serve on the WNSH
Educational Foundation board. We'd be nowhere without our
Of course, we're thankful to God.
God uses our content to remind people that He
loves them, and that's what we care about most.