The Christian Radio Homepage

 

Radio Interview

                                     

 

Ken Mayfield

Director of Network Operations

His Radio Network (now with K-Love)

 

 

Kens' Career Capsule

Began my career in radio at WBML, a small Gospel station in Macon, Georgia in 1978. It is the same station where Little Richard recorded his first song. Worked in Country, Rock & Mainstream A/C. Had a love for CCM since early 70's especially after seeing Keith Green in concert. Hosted a Sunday Morning CCM show, "Visions," for 7 years (1985 -1993) on mainstream Sunny 107.9 (WBCY) in hometown of Charlotte, NC. (Garnered a 20 Share 12+) Managed the switch of secular to Christian format on 3 stations, WRNA, WDEX, WTYC. (All are still Christian) Built, introduced and managed CCM station WNOW in Charlotte in 1985. In 1993, built and introduced WRCM (New Life 91.9) in Charlotte. It came on the air with a 2.4 share. General Manager of WRCM until 1999. Joined His Radio Network (RTN) in 1999 and became Director Of Network Operations. Have helped in the expansion from 6 frequencies to 26. Also serve as Operations Director inside His Radio Flagship station, WLFJ.

 

1. What events led you to your current position at His Radio?

In 1999, I left WRCM in Charlotte to take a position at His Radio. Originally, I was to help get a 50,000 watt AM station on the air in Greenville SC and then put WLFS-FM on the air in Savannah, Georgia. The plan was for me to stay in Savannah and manage WLFS. Jim Campbell, Radio Training Network president, had a heart attack in the spring of 2000 while we were preparing to put WLFS on the air. Jim asked that I stay in Greenville and assist he and Allen Henderson, our network manager. My family has loved Greenville so we welcomed the opportunity to put roots down here.

2. What's a typical day like in the life of Ken Mayfield?

If I am in the office and not traveling to one of our stations, our day begins with staff devotions. Each day is very different but on Mondays I meet with Rob Dempsey, our PD, and Dwayne Corn, our Promotions Director to discuss upcoming events and promotions. Each week, I meet with our chief engineer to discuss projects; Rob, to discuss music and station imaging and I meet with Allen to give updates.

Right now, our team is working on upgrading 3 of our stations and the acquisition of another. That alone can keep you very busy.

3. What is the one station promotion/event that you have been most blessed by?

That's easy. This past March, I traveled to Angola Prison along with other guys from RTN (Steve Swanson, Jerry Williams, Ben Birdsong, Jeremy Daley & Rob Dempsey) to conduct an on-air fundraiser from inside the prison radio station. Their existing equipment was old, mono and only functioned part of the time.

With over 5,000 inmates, Angola is the largest maximum-security prison in the US. 100 are on death row there. These guys need and count on this station. It programs Christian music about 90% of the time and is totally run by inmates. Prentice, the inmate in charge of the station has been ordained by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary since they now have an Angola extension. Three other inmates that work inside the station also have graduated from the seminary. The warden calls these graduates his inmate pastors.

We had a goal of $80,000 in three hours to rebuild the only prison radio station in the nation. We had met the goal within two hours and the final tally was $124,000. Since then 98% of what was pledged has come in. I traveled back to Angola with our engineer last month (August 2002) and we installed a brand new PR&E control board and a whole studio of new toys, a new Harris transmitter and exciter, as well as a new microwave system. In addition, were able to leave 3 remote systems so that the services from the new Baptist Chapel will be carried live each week. Every man in the prison will now hear the Gospel. Working with the warden, who is a Christian, we will go back every six months to maintain the equipment and train their on-air guys. Building relationships with these inmates and helping them has been one of the most memorable events of my life.

4. How would you compare the "state" of Christian radio today to 5 years ago?

I am very optimistic about our impact and direction. It has been good to see Christian radio break the '3.0 ratings ceiling.' Our Greenville station received a 6.2 in the fall ratings. We are often #1, 2 or 3 in our target group for women. I think this is incredible since we also have to compromise the 'local' for the regional network approach. I've seen many other stations grow by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. I think the product is better, meaning the stations' delivery and the music seems to be improving. The things that are holding us back are the things we refuse to let go of such as block programming. Many stations still seem to be stuck in the 70's thinking that it doesn't hurt us.   

5. How did your passion for Christian radio develop?

Michael Donovan, who is now a partner with Vallie-Richards Consulting, was my program director for a few years when I worked at Sunny 107.9 in Charlotte. I think I introduced CCM to him and he introduced great programming concepts to me. The station dominated Charlotte's ratings during his tenure.  I learned a great deal listening to his critiques and watching him program the station. My passion for Christian radio to be better than any station in town grew out of that friendship.

6. In your opinion what is the biggest "misconception that CCM labels have of CCM radio?

At one time, I think that the labels thought that Christian radio had no impact at all. To further that mindset, Jars Of Clay came along and sold a zillion records without much help from Christian Radio. I first heard Butterfly Kisses at GMA week and told Bob Carlisle the next morning that I thought that it would be the biggest hit ever for Christian music to then see only half of Christian radio even add it. I thought, "Boy, I really missed that one!" The label had it right but it took mainstream stations adding the song and playing the hound out of it before Christian radio realized we had missed an exclusive on "the big one."

 Since then, I think many stations have improved greatly. The music has gotten better and has been exposed to the community through more avenues such as Time/Life's Worship series advertised so heavily on TV. Wal-Mart's expanded selection has helped. The fact that you can hear Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Schultz, Nicole C. Mullen and other CCM played over Way-Mart's in-store radio doesn't hurt. In addition, I think we're getting better at recognizing the big songs such as "Redeemer" and "I Can Only Imagine."

 I don't know that the labels really have any 'misconceptions' of Christian radio. What I have noticed the last few years is that many of the label people really try hard to understand why we do what we do. Why we add this song or drop that one before we should have. I have watched label people sit in on our seminars at NCRS or Atlanta and learn the best way to help us succeed. I have had label people even challenge me on songs. I don't mind. We should have defensible reasons for what we do anyway.

7. What in your opinion is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality today?

To be compelling! I love the story of baseball great, Lou Gehrig. Someone asked him why he played so hard every time he took the field in spite of the fact that he played with broken bones and constant back spasms. He made the statement that he knew that every time he took the field, there was always someone there in the stands seeing him play for the very first time and he couldn't let them down.

 Every time we turn on the mic, there is someone listening for the very first time. We can let them down! Be compelling!  

8. What advice could you give to a young person wanting to start a career in Christian radio?

Three things come to mind -

  1. Make your relationship with Jesus first and foremost. God's Word says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord. Ask Him for guidance and he'll give it.
  2. Do whatever it takes. Volunteer to come in at 2 in the morning if the PD will let you do an air shift then. Work weekends. Take out the trash; just show an attitude of persistence, excitement, humility, and a willingness to work hard. We have too many new people that think they should start on the morning drive.
  3. Find people who are good at their craft (Christian radio) and pick their brain. Take them to lunch. Ask them if you can call them for advice every now and then. I had one guy that was very good at doing this. I hired Joe Paulo at WRCM in 1993 as a board operator. He was always willing to do any job that needed doing. Literally. He washed the gutters of the station and did the weed eating if necessary. I loved Joe's attitude. Initially, I wouldn't allow him to talk on the air. Eventually he did the weather and then some voices on production. After that, he took over the production department and produced some of the best image spots I had ever heard. He improved on the air and moved from evenings to afternoons and eventually became a part of the morning team. When my program director left to manage another station, I finally promoted Joe to PD. Here's the kicker. When I left WRCM in 1999, I recommended that Joe be considered for my replacement. The comment was made that he had not been in radio long enough. I told the guy I was talking to, " You don't know Joe very well. Give him an opportunity, he won't let you down." It took them a few months but Joe was promoted to Station Manager and has done an incredible job. I am very proud of him. Be that way and God will use you and promote you in His time.

 NOTE TO RADIO VETERANS - Find someone YOU can mentor! This industry needs God-loving people to help younger ones be great at Christian radio!


 

Previous Interviews


 

 

Copyright 2002 HisAIr.Net