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Radio Interview

Terry Michaels

 

Former PD/MD/Mornings

WJRF Refuge Radio Network

Duluth
 

To contact Terry click here
 

 

Terry's Career Capsule
Started part-time at The Refuge in 2000 as overnight voice-tracker and production assistant. Moved into full-time in 2002 doing traffic and eventually moved into the Music Director/Afternoon Drive Host position and on to Program Director in 2005-2006. In 2007 I took over as Morning Show Host adding that to my duties as PD/MD and Traffic Director.



1. Recently you left Refuge Radio due to budget cutbacks at the station. How has that affected you in a personal way?

Honestly, at first it was very shocking. And slightly devastating. It took a couple of days to come to terms with all of it, but through prayer, I realized that God has a perfect plan and he sees the end from the beginning. Who am I to doubt what He sets in motion? My wife took it harder than I did, I think. But she is trusting in God as I look for the next opportunity.

 

2. Generally speaking how does the Christian Radio job landscape look to you?

There are a lot of people competing for the same positions. Of course, I want this to be an opportunity to “move up” in the industry. But I quickly realized that might not be what God wants. He is still working on making me the best that I can be and use the gifts I have been given to glorify HIM. I can do that anywhere he puts me.  Again, I’m praying to put all my trust in HIM.

 

3. How do you best handle the emotional aspect of having to look for another job?

I’m still working on that one. I get down sometimes wondering if anyone will call back. But I have a strange sense of peace. I know that God will take care of me. He loves me. I don’t know why, but I know its true. He promised me a hope and a future and HE keeps his promises.

 

4. What advice would you give to someone else who finds themselves in your position?

Keep your head up. Don’t get bitter. That doesn’t do anybody any good. Sure, some people might not return your calls, but don’t take it personally and don’t give up. Try to remember that a lot of people are either looking for work or trying desperately to keep the jobs they have. But God is so much bigger than all of it.

 

5. What do you think was your greatest accomplishment at Refuge Radio?

I really think that we were able to build Refuge Radio into something different in the industry. We were able to make the station a “safe” place without settling into the status quo. With the help of my Assistant Music Director, Jake Scott (the best thing that happened to Refuge in many years), we introduced the listeners to new music and artists that they might not have even known about. Jake introduced me to artists like Dustin Kensrue, Corey Crowder, Sufjan Stevens and mewithoutYou etc. These artists are true men and women of God who don’t necessarily fit into what we call the Core Artist category. Don’t get me wrong, core artists are essential and what the public has come to expect, but how often have we all heard from different sources in the industry, and in our own lives, things like, “that’s song is good for radio, but not the best song on the album”? Or “Yeah, that’s a good artist for radio but here’s what I’m listening to”. At Refuge we strove to give people the BEST out there. To expand their musical palette and expose them to something new, while still keeping the playlist reflective of what was popular in the industry.

That, in my opinion is what radio needs to do as we move forward. There has to be a blend of playing “hits” and realizing that some listeners are using radio as a source to hear what is new and different, before they decide to spend $1.29 at the itunes store.

 

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

I think they are all doing a great job. Budgets are tight for them too. But I think if they keep looking to push the envelope a bit and help programmers know about some of the new and different artists on their roster we can all make radio a little more exciting for the consumer.

 

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

Well, except for the money issues we are all facing…That kind of goes back to an earlier question. I think that the landscape is changing so fast and many programmers are so busy that they are over-whelmed. Sometimes we need to be willing to take calculated risks with our stations. Some of the old ways of doing radio just don’t work anymore. I’m not saying a wholesale change, but just a little tweak here and there. We can never get so busy that we stick to what we have always done and forget about making our product the best it can be.

 

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

To connect with the listener. Get a clear idea of who you are talking to and try as best you can to invite yourself into their world. And above all else.. BE REAL! Drop the radio lingo and the “Christianese – Cheese”. If you find yourself using jargon or saying anything different than you would if the listener were at a barbeque on your front deck, DON’T DO IT! The listener can smell a phony and there are just too many other choices for them. They want to feel like they are your friends (in many cases, they are or will be on Facebook anyway). Morning shows should be a nice time gathered for a cup of coffee, talk about different events and share with them how that makes you feel, ask for them to join in make them feel welcome in your breakfast nook.

Also, for music stations, take some time to get to know the music and the artists as best you can. Radio should be a time for us to share the cool new song that we just heard, again much the same way you would do if you were hanging out at home listening to music. One of my biggest pet peeves is an announcer who clearly has never even listened to more that the ten second intro to a song. Once you mispronounce a name or say something about that song that is clearly wrong…you’ve lost all credibility and maybe lost a listener.

 

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

There are a few programmers and stations right now that “get it”.  Trying to single any one out means forgetting someone else…

Maybe since I don’t work there anymore it is not too narcissistic to say Refuge Radio. Maybe it is, I’m just proud of what we were able to accomplish.

 

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

That is a tough one. Things are really changing so fast its hard to say. I am really praying that smaller stations are able to hang on so that they can remain relevant and local.


 

 

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