My career has centered in and around the NYC
metropolitan area. While in college, in 1979, I hooked up with Bruce
Morrow of 77 WABC fame, and helped his company – Sillerman Morrow
Broadcast Group – put two stations on the air in North Jersey and
Poughkeepsie, NY. In ’83 I went to work for Greater Media at their
New Brunswick, NJ facility – WMGQ - to do afternoons before moving
to mornings in ’87. Then in 1994 I came to Inspo WAWZ to do
mornings. I added PD stripes in 2000 and helped launched STAR 99.1
early in 2003. Later that year I ended a 24 year run on the air and
moved into the Station Manager’s office. I also spent a couple of
years shuttling back and forth between NY and Cincinnati as Interim
GM for Pillar of Fire’s WAKW. I also serve on the Executive Board of
the New Jersey Broadcasters Association.
How has WAWZ evolved over the last few years?
couple of barometers; first “on-air.” We’ve grown to three HD
channels, three distinct websites, producing major arena concert
events, vibrant community partnerships for lasting impact, increase
in audience and, specifically, dramatic increase in Women 25-54 and
Women 35-44 in the NY metro.
Secondly, “off air.” The increase in audience continues to drive our
staff to excellence. Some departments have been remarkably stable.
Being together, and being able to develop history, has created a
family atmosphere – and a singular mindset to consider “what’s
we’ve seen growth in audience and revenue, I think everyone at STAR,
from the air staff to the Promotions Dept to Donor Development,
Sales, Engineering, Events and the un-sung hero’s of the Business
Office see in very tangible ways the way this format impacts the
lives of our listeners.
made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in any
see a drop in some areas, and surprisingly an increase (!) in
others. Overall, we’re slightly down but the team has rallied to the
challenge. The 2008 Sharathon is one of my favorite stories in the
relatively brief six-year history of STAR 99.1. The short version;
at the conclusion or our December 2008 sharathon we were at $1.7
mil. Our goal was $2.75. Still a long way off. The following week I
spoke to the staff in Chapel, and shared that in my devotions and
Scripture reading the previous week-end - and in the midst of
asking God “why?” - I kept coming across the words “trust me.” After
the Christmas break we planned for another three-day sharathon, on
January 15, 16 & 17, and went into a season of prayer. The response
from listeners was overwhelming; we made up the difference and
surpassed the goal by $100,000. Our PPM numbers for that week showed
the highest cume in the station’s history to that point. That week
was a watermark for us in many ways; and we’ve seen steady increase
in weekly cume since then. God is good.
How is New
York a unique Christian market?
a unique market – never mind a unique Christian market. Things are
amped up a bit here… time is more precious, people are more driven,
money and success are more important, this area leads the nation in
density and there is great diversity in the culture. Happily, that
diversity is also evident in The Church. In a culture where
everything is within walking distance or accessible by car, bus or
train, it’s interesting to see people recognize – perhaps more than
ever - they are missing something. Hope has been a big focus for us
the past nine months, and it’s a theme that resonates with our
been in this metropolitan area all my life and love the entire
fabric of this region. At the end of the day though, people are
people; they’re lost without that personal relationship with Christ.
Right now there is a great appetite for hope. It is our great
privilege to serve the radio listeners of this region and invite
them into the greater story of God, and the hope of Christ, with
great music and terrific air talent.
valuable is an active morning show to Christian radio?
shows, personalities that are “fore-front” and engaging listeners,
are vital to the success of radio. Not just active morning shows,
but active shows across all day-parts. And I believe “live” is key;
not only talking “at” listeners between the songs but talking “to”
listeners about the things that are happening now, at this moment
that effect their lives and bringing them into the conversation.
of us can remember when there were just a handful of different
formats on the radio dial and TV networks…long before we were
looking to our 800 cable channels, a billion websites, mobile
satellite, iPods, iPhones or Blackberry’s for entertainment. (Come
on, fess up…who else thought getting a “vanity URL” through AOL was
the ultimate in world wide web presence!) People have so many
choices. If we can remember we’re here to serve they’ll continue to
believe STAR 99.1 – and this region – are truly blessed. Johnny and
Stacey Stone, Beth Bacall, Keith Stevens, Dave Moore, George Flores,
Dawn Wheeler, David A Dein, Izzy Knight – these guys are the best. I
know the level of their dedication and earnest desire of their
hearts to reach people. I wish these guys were in every market.
How important are ratings to the success of WAWZ?
Important… maybe as
important, but not more important, than “mission.” We are in
“broadcasting,” our obligation to the FCC is to serve the greatest
number of people. We actively pursue, through our programming,
promotions, events, marketing, donor and business development, to
serve as many as possible so that we can build relationships. We
also have a fiduciary responsibility to the Board as well for the
financial obligations of the station. Ratings enables all of it.
How do you
think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
can be so bold, by not contributing to our demise with onerous fees.
Broadcasters in this country serve a vital public service. Christian
broadcasters contribute at an even higher level of service that I
think is un-matched. The “Performance Rights Act” legislation
currently running through Congress represents a major threat to our
survival. It will eliminate any margins that do exist, drive
virtually every music station into a position they will be unable to
recover from, jeopardize the level of public service each station
can afford to offer when the need is most critical and will likely
drive many local radio stations off the air.
opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
speak to music radio; in addition to the threat of fees mentioned
above, the attitude that radio is an obsolete medium. That attitude
will, over time, permeate to the listeners, supporters and
advertisers. Radio is very strong in terms of listener loyalty and
the role it plays in the fabric of life. Conversely, as radio
operators we can’t be complacent or ignorant of opportunities to
build relationships with listeners. Radio has always had amazingly
creative people in its ranks. We need to continue to cultivate that
talent and then incorporate additional “delivery pipelines” to our
model to meet listeners where they are; whether that’s terrestrial,
Internet or mobile.
What do you believe
is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality?
Connect with and serve your listener.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
asked about stations. Let me take the question a step further; any
owner, operator, manager, programmer, air talent, engineer,
producer, book-keeper who hasn’t thrown in the towel – and is
willing to show up, determined to serve and give and succeed. These
people have my undying affection. They are the innovators. What
we’re seeing today in broadcasting; the regulatory climate, the
growth in other mass media, the shift in listener (consumer)
behavior…I haven’t seen conditions like this in my 30 years. But
Christian music radio is now more important than ever. We’ve got a
message that sustains people in times like these. Do not grow weary.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
as where I saw it six years ago – the last time you asked me!
Hopefully not content, but still hungry to grow and serve.