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Radio Interview

                                     

Rob Conway

Music Director

WGTS

Wash DC

 

 

Rob's Career Capsule
I’ve worked in Christian radio now for the past ten years in Washington, DC doing mornings, afternoons and mid-days (well just about every airshift possible) at WGTS. I was the Production Director for 5 years and for the past year and a half have been the Music Director. I’ve had the privilege of working with top national consultants like Alan Mason, John Frost and Tommy Kramer who have given me an invaluable amount of knowledge and funny jokes. Following the Columbia Shuttle tragedy in 2003, I had the opportunity to create a remix of MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine, which got airplay on stations all across the country and sent to the families of the astronauts and the White House.

 

1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”? 

Our radio station is really like a family. We look out for one another and treat each other with respect. I don’t look at the people I work with as “colleagues” but as friends. And that atmosphere conveys itself over the air, too. We’ve even had people who have worked for other Christian stations tell us they really feel as though we focus more on the ministry than just the business. And that’s really our goal every day.

 

2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?

I believe we’ve raised the bar for the standard of music we play. Much of that is in part to the fact that we know better what our listener wants through research and the labels/artists have responded in part. More stations are limiting the number of currents they play to give listeners more time to become familiar with the songs and expose them to potential P1’s.

 

3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio PD?

I’ve had the privilege of working with some terrific PD’s and one thing I’ve learned from them is that it’s very important to gain the trust of your staff. Trust is never given, it’s earned. I look at the way Jesus led and he was always working on gaining the trust of his disciples. A Christian PD works the same way.

 

4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?

Our criteria mixes science & art. We have to be pretty certain that playing a new song is worth the risk since unfamiliar music is the biggest turn off to listeners. So we look at scores, but we also have to judge it based upon its message (does it hit on the beliefs & values of our listeners?) and the overall musicality of the song—will it blend in or stick out? Do we even want it to blend in too well? The song needs to be memorable so people will have a reason to come back to it.

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?

The ones in which the best stories can be told. It’s all about sharing our stories and touching and reaching others. It’s not about ‘us’. Make it about the listener and you’ll win just about every time.

 

6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?

Music is the price of admission to our radio station and when that music strikes a chord with the listeners, they feel that they know the artist on a personal level. However, it seems that so many of today’s artists are “protected” by their tour managers and such to the point where it’s very difficult to gain access to them. Whether that’s a quick interview backstage or dropping by the station; our listeners want to know their favorite artists better. Also, there are ways we can work on making it easier to get promotional product from the labels to the stations without all the rigmarole we’re put through.

 

7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?

Unfamiliar music. The overall general public still has no idea who Casting Crowns, MercyMe or Chris Tomlin is. So building recognition among even our most core artists is still absolutely necessary if we’re going to convert P2’s & P3’s into P1 listeners. We’re doing better than we were, but we still have a ways to go.

 

8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality?

To entertain. I know, I used a very un-couth word in the Christian business. But if it’s not entertaining (even in regards to spiritual issues) there’s no reason to expect listeners to stick around to hear it. It’s just a matter of finding that right camera angle that will grab her attention and touch her heart.

 

9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?

The funny thing is, there used to only be a handful of stations just a couple of years ago, but fortunately the number is on the rise. I tend to look to stations like KCMS, WPOZ & WAWZ as inspiration. But I’m very proud that WGTS has really come into its own recently.

 

10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?

Hopefully, if we stay on track, most stations will have doubled their listenership as we familiarize our music to more people. And my real hope is that we can break into more ‘secular’ markets, outside of the Bible-belt; like Boston or San Francisco for example. This would greatly increase our awareness to others.

 

 

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