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Radio Interview

                                     

Jonathon Unthank

Program Director

WYLV

Knoxville

 

 

Jonathon's Career Capsule
I started my radio career in 1997 here at WYLV Love 89.1FM, and also at our sister station WRJZ. In 1999, I became Music Director of WYLV Love 89, stayed in that position until 2003. I have been Program Director of Love 89 since 2001.

1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique?

Knoxville is the good ole South. We love the beans and cornbread and the sweet tea. The music featured on the radio in town is diverse. From Bluegrass to Active Rock, you'll hear it in Knoxville. Knoxville is definitely a Country market with the top station in town earning a 20+ share each book. It is also a great place to live. If you're in to sports this is the place to be. From football, basketball, etc...Knoxville is a city that is growing and we are privileged to be the Christian music outlet.

 

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?

Being able to personally make an impact in someone's life for the better. I am blessed to see how God, music and a little personality can draw in thousands each week to listen.

 

3. Here is your chance to testify on behalf of your station...How has God used WYLV?

How long do I have? I have seen God take a small station, and make it into one of the country's top CHR stations. I think it has to do more with obedience.  Our staff is hardworking and we love what we do. We are always growing, but in that process we are willing and open to what God wants. He is ultimately in control of our future. We do what we can with the resources available to us, and He does the rest. It's kind of like the loaves and fishes principle... We have a connection to our city and market that I think other stations pay thousands of dollars to figure out and achieve. We see station needs met regularly, as well as those who call in with needs.  We are seeing listeners reach out to other listeners, total strangers in some cases, and meeting their needs. It is so much more than music. This stuff excites me and makes me come to work everyday.

 

4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your station?

I meet each week with Danielle Hedges, our Music Director, and we decide together what songs we will throw in the mix. We start things out in an ultra light category, and move the song up as we see and get listener response. We do minimal research. Our music mix is what I think sets us apart from other stations. It is a careful and well thought out process, but when you listen it is FUN and unique. It really stands out in a market that is full of stale, scientifically based radio stations.

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?

Anything where we can help another ministry or offer our listeners an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life.

 

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

I think they are doing a great job. We have no problems with servicing. I enjoy the relationships I have with those that work with the labels. Their hard work has been evident in the types of songs that have been released to radio recently.

 

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

We need to be willing to explore new areas. What I mean by that is that we need to take a chance on real issues that are going on in the world. For example, we talked about the Michael Jackson verdict. Some Christian stations wouldn't touch it, but if you'd listen to any other station in your market, guess what the focus was? I think we are scared of the Crusaders, and let them determine what we do and don't do. Take the chance to explore an area that is "off limits", but do it with a Christian perspective that only your station can give... Also, picking the right music is key to growth. You have to be on top of what your listeners are checking out when they are not listening to you. I think when you have a good handle on that, you are able to choose music that they can relate to anytime they tune in.

 

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

An encourager. I feel my job on-air is to be a friend and a safe place where I am available for my listeners to call me up, tell me what's going on, and then keep me updated. I always ask my listeners to keep in touch, and you know what...they do! I tell my staff to try to make that connection. It becomes more than a jock/listener relationship. You become a part of each other's daily lives.

 

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

I like too many. I would say that with a little personality, a little break from the norm, and a vision for the future, that makes you the innovator.  All of us can be innovators...

 

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

If we do it right, Christian radio becomes a staple in every market. Every station is known for what it represents, and we are making a difference in our communities. Take a chance, what do we have to lose.

 

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