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Radio Interview

                                     

 

Bill DeWees

Station Manager

WONU

Chicago

 

 

 

  

Bills' Career Capsule

Began working as a radio commercial copywriter in 1982.  In Columbus and central Ohio worked at WMVO, WSYX, WCKX, WRFD,and WTLT (light rock, country, news/talk, agricultural, and CCM). In Chicago at WONU (Shine 89.7) since February of 1991.  Have had jobs ranging from copywriter, sales, every airshift imaginable, program director, station manager...to even helicopter traffic reporter!  I'm presently station manager/morning host at WONU.

1. How did you know without a doubt God wanted to use you in Christian radio ?

I grew up listening to top 40 AM radio.  As a kid in Ohio I listened to WCFL AM 1000 and WLS at night.  I LOVED pop music and the personalities.  I was the kind of kid that could give you any artist, song and album title, and chart position in any given week.

In junior high I knew I wanted to be a DJ.  I attended a Christian college and at that time I was introduced to contemporary Christian music (Dallas Holm, The Archers, The Imperials, etc.).  The thought struck me...what if you could play great Christian music like that an a station as fun and well formatted as a WCFL or WLS?  I knew that it would be a station with a big impact.  It became my passion and call into this format.
 

 
2. There's three fulltime contemporary Christian music stations in Chicago, do you feel you all are competitors..... and why do you think Chicago can support all three?

We now actually have 4 full-time CCM stations in this market(WONU, The Fish, WCFL, and K-Love)and WMBI has evolved into a very soft CCM over the past year or so.  I would venture to say that Chicago is the most competitive CCM market in the country.

I'll be honest, it isn't an easy market to pitch your tent and raise your flag.  In smaller markets where you're the "only game in town" it's far easier to gain a larger share of the audience.  Chicago is a world class city that offers every diversion and entertainment known to man.  There is great radio here (aside from Christian) and the audience expectations are high because they are exposed to such tremendous entertainment choices. 

The saving grace here is that there are so many people!  The question is not are there enough listeners to support all the stations.  The question is, who can market effectively enough to attract enough of the right audience.  I try to spend more time innovating and creating opportunites to generate more listeners rather than worry about the other stations (although they do cross my mind from time to time :-)).
 

 
3. What  do you think are the advantages / disadvantages of being a non-com station?

It's kind of funny.  The first 11 years of my career were in commercial radio and I thought I would NEVER work in non-comm. radio.  I thought the idea of a fundraiser was humorous.  Now that I'm in it I LOVE it!  I don't look at it all that differently.  It's still all about sales.  If I'm not selling commercial time I'm selling businesses and individuals on the reasons they should invest in the radio station.  We still look for and develop alternative revenue streams.  I really do believe there are more similarities than differences.

4. What is your most memorable moment of touching someone personally while on the air?

Years ago there was a woman who used to call the studio line of a station I worked at and ask for me to remember her in prayer because she had been diagnosed with cancer.  She would call from time to time to check in and then the calls stopped.  I didn't know what had happened but assumed the worst.  Years later while working at another radio station I was at a station event and was approached by a woman.  She introduced herself and it was the same woman I had talked to years earlier and she was now cancer free.  It's wonderful to be able to make those kind of connections.

5. What in your opinion is the biggest change in Christian radio the last few years ?

 Better formatted stations, better music, and Salem's entrance into the CCM market.  There are many more CCM stations, creating more competition, more networking and utltimately a better product.


 

 

 

 



 

 

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