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Radio Interview

                                     

Steve Jones

PD/Air Personality

CJLF

Barrie, Ontario

 

 

Steve's Career Capsule
I have been in radio for 10 years.  I attended Western Academy Broadcasting College in Saskatoon, Saskatoon.  In the next two years I would move 7 times to pursue every possible opportunity in mainstream radio.  In that time I worked overnights, swing, middays, afternoon drive, mornings and spent time as a music director too.  After getting laid off when the CHR station I was working at changed formats I made the move to Christian radio.  First at CHRI 99.1 in Ottawa, Ontario (
www.chri.ca), and for the past 4, almost 5 years, at LIFE 100.3 (www.lifeonline.fm).  I started at LIFE as the afternoon drive guy and helped in the music department.  As time went on I accepted more responsibilities including Assistant Program Director and am now the Program Director.

 

 

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

I believe we can apply what Toby Mac said about music to radio too. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like, "I don't get it when people say there are only so many things you can write about as a Christian artist.  That's crazy, we write about the same things as everyone else but our perspective is different."   I believe radio is radio but our perspective about everything as Christian broadcasters is different. 

 

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

The Canadian Christian radio industry has come a long way in 5 years.  Because the industry is still very young in Canada (Christian radio in Canada was not allowed until the early 90's) some stations continue to experience growth pains.  Thankfully more radio people are making the jump from mainstream radio to help make it more professional. 

 

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

Our number one priority is to make sure we sound as good as or better than every other radio stations in town.  If our listeners are used to hearing the "best" somewhere else we can't expect them to flip to us just because we are the Christian radio station. 

 

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

All of the artists we play are professing Christians.  Our core artists during the day include Casting Crowns, Newsboys, Switchfoot, and Chris Tomlin.  At night we change our format to a ministry for teenagers called The Slam (mix of Rock, Hip Hop, and Pop).  It features core artists like Relient K, Toby Mac, Switchfoot, Hawk Nelson, KJ-52, and Thousand Foot Krutch. 

When we pick new music we choose songs that sound like they fit between those artists.  We have also opened up our playlist to artists like Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, and Miley Cyrus.  They are all publically professing Christians and we would be rather embarrassed to say that every other radio station is playing the Christian artists except for the Christian station.

We are very specific when it comes to the nuts and bolts of a song.  We want the vocals to begin within the first 15 seconds of the song, the chorus should hit at around :45.  The length of the song should be somewhere between 3:00 and 3:30.  The most important thing is that the song must build vocally and/or musically.  If you listen to Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, and Mercy Me, for example, the music and vocals just explode buy the end of the song.  The build of the song is most important.   Sometimes we will make exceptions on the timing if the song does build. 

 

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

They should be the same as mainstream radio.  Christians like to win trips, cars, and weekend getaways at the spa too.  Our promotions department works hard to find cool prizes for the station.
 

 

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

Sometimes it is very difficult to set up interviews with artists.  For example, I was at a US Christian music festival last summer and was told by artist management that two of the headliners were not available to do interviews.  A couple of hours later from the stage, one of the headliners said, "I've been cooped up in my hotel room all day.  I need to burn off some energy."  

We are all on the same team right?  Yes the music is most important but our listeners love hearing from the artists too.  We are all trying the spread the message of Christ.  Our listeners love the music and if they have the chance to get to know the artist through an interview with a radio station I think it will only help.
 
P.S.  Casting Crowns has never refused an interview with us...never.  I figure if the biggest band in Christian music is willing to do an interview or two everyone else should be too.

 

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

I think we just need to keep our stations sounding fresh.  My general manger is always challenging us to think outside the box.  Don't always do things the same way.  Sometimes I find myself, or worse someone else notices, that I'm in a rut.  I may believe there is no other way, this is it, we're stuck.   One of my favorite quotes is from Vince Lombardi, ""We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible."

 

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

We need to inform, interact, and entertain.  Our perspective as Christians is a unique one compared to all of the mainstream stations.  We need to talk about what our listeners are talking about. I also think it's important to remember that it is okay to have fun.  I've heard Christian stations that sound very "religious."  Most people, including Christians, just don't talk or live like that.  Smile, use tons of phoners, and have fun!

 

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

I don't know Christian radio in the US very well but in Canada it is still a very new format (as explained in question #2).  We tend to listen to successful mainstream radio stations for ideas and inspiration.  However, there are some Christian radio stations in Canada (each with a different vision) that have made an impact in their markets: Shine FM www.shinefm.com (Calgary and Edmonton), CHVN http://www.manitobachristianonline.com/ (Winnipeg), CHRI www.chri.ca (Ottawa).

 

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

I think with everyday that passes the world needs Jesus even more.  Christian radio is just one amazing tool that God can use to change the world.  If we are open to his calling we'll be able to look back in five years and admire what God has done.

 

 

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