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Radio Interview

                                     

Steve Swanson

General Manager

WAFJ

Augusta, GA

 

 

Steve's Career Capsule
I began my broadcasting journey at a small AM station in a Minneapolis, MN suburb back in 1978 where a friend of mine and I bought air time for a weekly CCM music show.  Since then  I have been blessed to work at stations in MN, IA, MD, FL, and now GA/SC at WAFJ. I have hosted mornings and afternoon drive, done promotions, music, and now sit in the GM's chair. Most of the stations I've worked for have had a Christian format. I have been blessed to see God use Christian music to impact people's lives in lasting ways.

 

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

Those that know me know that one of my favorite words is intentionality.  All have it available, few embrace it.  The truth is that we do what we want to do! It takes purposeful, prayerful intentionality to stay ministry focused  personally - It has to start with me, before I can help direct the station and our on air messages and presentation . It begins with my personal time with the Lord. I know VERY quickly when I am trying to make things happen on my own.  Without the focus being on ministry, we have nothing lasting or valuable to offer our listeners. 

 

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

There continues to be an increase of quality music. The focus on worship music continues. There is a ton of fantastic young talent. I  am not sure if we're making forward progress in terms of radio's reach and impact. With all of the music delivery platforms available including HD, our distinctive continues to be our message of hope and a life complete through Jesus Christ . We have the ability to touch our audience- through personal contact, prayer, and involvement in the communities we serve. Never has it been more important to intersect regularly with our listeners!

 

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

Vision, flexibility, teach-ability,  personal  spiritual growth, humility, a good ear for great songs,  a heart to serve the station's staff and listening family plus a real love for people .

 

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

That's a lot like asking "What makes a great piece of art?" 

Here are some of the things I look for:

1) Clarity & relevance of the message

2) Artist familiarity

3) Sing-along-ability (ok, maybe not a real word, but you know what I mean)

4) Current mix of music

5) The heart of the artist

6) Production value

7) How does it make me feel? 

8) Song tempo & style 

9) Is it happy and hopeful?

10) I  definitely ask for the Lord to help me add the songs that will be of most impact to our listeners . 

 

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

*Those that involve the listener in reaching beyond themselves. 

*They need to be memorable. (It's best when it's something the listener can't get anywhere else.)

*Simple to understand and easy for the listener to participate in .

It should be fun for the participants and those who just choose to "listen in"  from the sidelines as well.

 

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

I think they're doing a terrific job  and are dedicated to their mission.   It seems to me that there are too many new "unproven" artists being pushed in to the spotlight. Some  more "seasoning" would be a good thing. I love having lots of great music to choose from, but I also believe that "less is more". Do we really benefit the industry, our stations or listeners by having 65-70 new releases every 4 weeks?

By the way, I always want to have the lyrics available. Please always post the lyrics of  all new releases! 

 

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

Small vision, and perhaps a lack of original ideas. It's so much easier to copy an idea than to create one. I think at times we still struggle with the "We're just the Christian station" second class mentality  and are apologetic instead of pro-active in our communities. Too often we value activity (busyness) over worthwhile accomplishments and don't value the the time necessary to pray, dream, brainstorm and seek God's vision and mission for our stations. I believe we have enough tools to impact people under our signals profoundly but don't frequently "seize the day" when it comes to opportunities. Often we lack visibility. Keep in mind the folks under our signals will not come to us, we need to choose to go out and intersect with people where they're at. Yes, it takes time, effort and intentionality (there's that word again) but it's worth it!

 

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

To serve God and share the gifts God has blessed you with.

On the air the primary role is to be an authentic friend to the listener. We need to remind listeners that Jesus is Lord and that real life can only be experienced through a personal relationship with Him. Additionally we're often the connecting point between the station and the faith community.

 

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

I am sure there are many stations that are leading the way in terms of technology and finding ways to be good stewards of the platform God has blessed them with. There are some that are known within the industry as leaders including KCMS, KXOJ, WPOZ, The JOY FM, KLTY, KSBJ, KTIS, WMIT,  as well as KLOVE, and the WAY FM networks. I rejoice when I hear about the good things God is doing through these stations, They certainly encourage us to do all we can with all we have for God's glory!  Even as I say that I am reminded that the measure of our station's isn't industry recognition, but faithfulness to God's call in the market(s) you are called to serve in, whether or not others (outside of your market) ever hear about your station. Be faithful to God's call where you are! (Colossians 3:23).

 

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

I pray that we are  all  faithfully serving the King and anticipating Jesus' return!  I prayerfully believe that our stations will be embraced by more and more people. I also think we will choose to use emerging technological platforms available to us and  become more and more accessible to people in ways that reach beyond our air signal coverage . Whatever happens, I am confident that the Lord's plans and purposes will accomplished. I pray that we'll always be open to what HE has in store for us.  It's a great time to be alive! I am thankful the Lord chooses to use us for HIS plan and purposes. 

 

 

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