The interesting thing
about Jacksonville is it's the heart of The Bible
Belt. When Promise Keepers was doing big stadium
events we were told the most people who had ever
responded to one of their alter calls was the event
held here. We have 15 Christian radio stations
counting translators and stations in nearby
communities with strong enough signals to be heard in
the Jacksonville market. Additionally, Christians are
an important demo for several secular formats. If you
take away the Christians from the local Limbaugh,
Hannity, and Delilah audiences there's no question
they wouldn't be as dominant. Many of the people in
this area grew up in church even if they don't
presently attend. Most people here aren't offended by
Christian programming on the radio.
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you
personally about Christian radio?
Knowing that you don't have to compromise your
convictions in order to do your job. I worked in
secular radio in Jacksonville and Atlanta before
having the opportunity to work in Christian radio. I
remember having to produce nightclub ads advertising
their happy hours. Long before I was even trying to
serve God I had a remote at a club where I was
selected to be one of 3 judges for their pajama party
contest. I was so naive. I thought I was judging
regular PJs but it turned out to be young ladies
parading across the stage in skimpy lingerie. Instead
of American Idol it was Lingerie Idol! It was my job
to say with a British accent "That was utterly
appalling". Just kidding. Today my wife would kill me
if I did a remote/appearance like that so its good to
be able to stay alive and still work in radio. That's
not to say their aren't good Christian people in
secular radio. I have friends in secular radio who do
a great job and get to be salt and light in that
environment. What's most rewarding is knowing God is
using you to make a difference.
I'm sure we all have our glory stories. I'll never
forget the time a man called the station saying he was
going to kill himself. He'd tried unsuccessfully
several times before and was tired of waking up in
mental hospitals. This time instead of swallowing a
fist full of pills he was going to blow his brains out
and to make sure he didn't chicken out he was going to
shoot several other innocent people first. Long story
short, we kept him on the phone long enough for police
to trace the call where he was arrested with a loaded
9mm at a pay phone in front of a convenience store.
The police told us he could have killed everyone in
the store and they wouldn't have known what hit them.
I also enjoy the fact that our station stays on the
cutting edge of technology. Our station was the first
in the market to go digital in our production room,
eons ago of course. We try to stay current with the
latest software because it helps us be more creative.
3. How do you personally keep the ministry in
I think everything Christians do should be
ministry. The Bible tells us to do everything heartily
as unto the Lord. When a Christian goes to work
everyday at his secular job he should see that as
ministry. He's being an example to those around him.
He's earning money to provide for his family, which
the Bible mandates. Some of the money he makes will be
used to support The Gospel. I see people going to work
in corporate America as being on the true front lines
of ministry because they have to deal with pressures
from which we in "ministry jobs" are protected. For
example, when I was in secular radio getting
propositioned by groupies was a daily thing. In
Christian radio it happens but its rare. We all just
need to approach everything we do as ultimately
advancing The Gospel even if not directly.
4. What is the criteria that determines if a
song receives airplay on your station?
I'm from the school of radio that says you don't
play guessing games. I want to see chart activity
unless its a song from a tremendously popular artist
or group first. I really don't put a lot of stock in
what I personally like when it comes to airplay. If I
like a song and I'm not certain the listeners will
too, I can listen to it after work on my CD player.
5. What kind of promotions work best for your
You have to strike a balance between the fun stuff
and the important charity type promotions. If we spend
100% of our promotional effort on Christian cruises,
concerts, theme park promotions and things we have a
blast doing we miss out on making a difference in the
lives of people in need. Plus, people remember the
charitable things we do when sharathon comes around.
If all we do are remotes from the food bank, blood
drives and collecting toys for missions it can be a
little boring and listenership can suffer.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels
can better serve Christian radio?
Thank you so much for asking! I would LOVE for
there to be a secure, encrypted FTP server consortium
only accessible by radio stations that post all the
songs in Christian music separated by genre. Radio
stations can preview and download songs they want to
add. A download represents an add. No need to call
because if we downloaded it its in rotation. Require a
quick survey on our current playlist to determine
recent drops when stations log onto the server. Only
make music calls one day a week. The Southeastern area
of the country gets called only on Thursday, for
example. The Northeast on Monday, etc. Remember the
non-com stations. Load us up with leftover promotional
product for our sharathons. Thanks!
7. In your opinion what are the biggest
obstacles facing Christian radio today?
Competing with secular radio. Just because someone
is a Christian doesn't mean they automatically listen
Christian radio exclusively or listen to Christian
radio at all. There are other "family friendly"
formats out there and people have options. For
example, Radio Disney is for kids but their target
audience is the mothers of the kids. If they started
buying FM stations and tweaked their programming
slightly older I bet it would have an affect on
Christian radio. We have to be as good if not better
than anything else on the dial. I'll brag on out
airstaff as being one of the most talented staffs of
any station in this market.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of
the Christian radio air personality today?
I don't think that's too much different than
secular radio air personalities. Be entertaining, be
informative, be a good communicator, be engaging. In
Christian radio we aren't crude so that's the biggest
difference than with some secular formats. Some
Christian stations want "preachy" personalities,
others don't so it depends on the station.
9. What (if any) other Christian radio
stations do you consider as innovators today?
Years ago I considered WCIE in Lakeland, Florida as
an innovator. I see the Salem talk format as
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5
The 2 biggest societal trends on the horizon are
the growth of ethnic minority populations and
technological advancements. In 4 states Caucasians are
now a minority group. I've never been happy with the
model that says listeners only want to hear radio
personalities of their particular racial group. On
most radio stations in America whether Christian or
secular there seems to be an unwritten rule that says
Hispanics can only work as announcers at Spanish
language stations, Blacks can only work on Urban
formats and stations that target White audiences must
have only White announcers because that's what the
listeners want. I think that's a silly idea. The
largest demographic group that watches the Oprah
Whinfrey show are White soccer moms. Imagine that, an
African American who's never been married and has no
children is the pop culture icon of White soccer moms.
Will Smith, Jammie Fox, Halle Berry, a host of both
Christian and Secular recording artists and others
have proven the general public is a lot less uptight
about race than we who decide who gets behind the
microphone on radio stations and whether their skin
color matches the format. I see Christian radio
getting more diversified with African American and
Hispanic announcers and probably a few more groups
that sound like Salvador. When our station first began
steaming audio on-line it was really just a novelty
and more importantly a way that the station could be
easily monitored by out of town leadership. Today its
totally different. If our Internet stream does down
our phones ring off the hook because listeners in
decent numbers listen via the Internet. I think we'll
see significant numbers of people who listen to US
Christian radio in other parts of the world on-line.
Our programming might take on a global appeal to some