Career Capsule: My first radio gig (After working Christian Retail in high school and college ) was at WRJZ a Christian teaching and talk station in Knoxville, producing the Morning show. From there I moved over in the building to the Christian CHR WYLV. I bounced from nights to mornings to afternoons over the next five years learning from really smart PDs like Jonathan Unthank, Mike Blakemore, and Marshall Stewart. During those five years I took on the MD tag and helped develop a Worship leaning AC station called Life 88.3 WDLF. After those stations were sold, with the gracious helping hands of Chris Hauser and Chris Chicago, I did indie promotions for a couple of years, then when Centricity called 5 years ago, packed the family and moved 3 hours west to Franklin and began working here, and I love it.
Kris, Tell us about what’s new with you, your latest adventures, happenings at Centricity Music?
Personally, I have 3 kids age 5 and under, so that’s pretty much everything that isn’t work related. My wife is truly a saint and an incredible mom. We just went to the beach which, with 3 kids those ages is an adventure in itself.
It’s a big year for us at Centricity with new records from our biggest artists, Jordan Feliz just released his sophomore album “Future” and Lauren Daigle’s new album will come in the fall with a brand new single coming July 13. We also have a 2 new artists I’m super excited about in Peabod and Caitie Hurst.. So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff happening here at the label.
Since you have a such a busy schedule, how do you best manage your responsibilities and priorities?
Doing better at keeping a calendar is a big part of managing stuff. Also, having a great team like Kory Henkel and Shimmy make it easy to delegate things with absolute trust that they’ll be done well and that people will be taken care of.
Complete this sentence: The best way to get a new artist recognized is to____________?
Have an undeniable hit song like Jordan Feliz’s “The River” or Lauren Daigle’s “How Can It Be” or Caitie Hurst’s “How Can I Be Silent” (That last one is coming soon)
Generally speaking how do you see the state of Christian radio?
I think it’s in a state of change. New leaders seem to be rising. KLJY and WCSG are both #1 in their markets with massive TSL and station loyalty. SOS was top 5 in Vegas with a low power signal signal for like 4 months!
This hilarious facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/874868602600557/?ref=br_rs
|People Against 99.1JoyFM’s Terrible Drivers Public Group …
People Against 99.1JoyFM’s Terrible Drivers has 9,919 members. RULES: 1. No targeted hatred of any race, religion, or fellow members. 2. Do not post…
is proof of KLJY’s market awareness. And they all 3 have great on-air personalities and promotions departments. It feels like the family friendly box we’ve been in for a decade or so, is quickly evolving into something bigger and more meaningful and more connecting for people both inside and outside the bubble.
I think the age of personalities is dawning. They can go anywhere for music now, but if the personalities are strong, authentic, entertaining and given the space to do what they do, Radio can be really special.
There also seems to be a general sense of fear in some places. Not just fear of new music, but a fear of new anything, or the future. I sometimes wonder if that general undefined fear is sucking the fun out of radio. One of the reasons I started into radio was the feeling I would get when my local station would play a new song that I LOVED, it was like winning the cakewalk at the church festival (for one of the non-angel food cakes, of course). The ability to surprise and delight I think is a huge underutilized tool in radio’s tool belt.
And I wonder if the focus on cume is the right target to prioritize. In the audio entertainment landscape (And really entertainment in general) dollars are flowing toward content with smaller more passionate and well defined audiences. I feel like that’s gotta mean something, and TSL at the very least in tandem with cume, is a better measurement of a station’s audience’s passion. Where as a huge cume alone could easily be an audience a mile wide and an inch deep.
Regarding record sales how has it changed ….please explain?
Whereas it used to be everything promotionally and otherwise led up to street week, now street week is where it all begins. With the way streaming works now, the days of propping up a record with hype and smoke and mirrors are mostly over. The data of what people actually like is there and the hits (or lack thereof) are more and more clear every week a record lives in the world. That said, for all the discovery potential digital platforms provide, radio remains by far the main way people discover music they love.
What promotions with radio have you been involved with personally that are most memorable?
To continue the hype train for the stations mentioned earlier, I love the Sofa Series at KLJY, I love that it’s a live broadcast, it’s incredibly unique and special. It’s old school and a genuine reason to tune into the radio, like the grand ole opry for our format. I’m stoked they are doing it again in the summer in their new venue.
I’ve been honored to work on the Father Daughter event with WCSG the last five years. I think it may be the perfect event for Christian radio. Why? Because it’s mom that buys the ticket (and gets a night off), dad gets special time with his little girl, families are served and enriched, and I get to get a new artist a chance to be in front of a big group of people. They’ve been doing the event for 25 plus years. Generations of dads and daughters come to it. It’s 100% about the event, while the music needs to be good, the name doesn’t need to be the primary ticket driver. It’s always sponsored out the ying yang (because a huge group of dads with enough cash to go to a banquet is a pretty desirable bunch for businesses to be in front of, I assume). And Patty Riva at WCSG has the thing running like a watch. They sell out 2 consecutive nights every year. I think it’s an event that should and could be repeated all over the country. Reach out to Patty@wcsg.org for the details on how she runs it, and you should totally call us to provide an artist for it. It’s the biggest win-win-win- for station, label, and artist I’ve seen.
Also, anyone with a beating heart would be hard pressed not to come away deeply changed and impacted by WHPZ’s Night of Hope and celebration for people who are currently dealing with or have been touched by cancer.
Do you feel the record/radio relationship is still as important as it has been in the past………..explain how its same/different?
Boy I sure hope so. My job depends on it.
Seriously, there’s so much too look at now, I feel the relationship is as important as ever.
It’s the same in that it’s our job to listen to radio programmers and understand the need they are trying to meet and then to make music and partner on promotions and events that hopefully do just that. We try to be super diligent in keeping that conversation going to be continually learning.
It’s different than it used to be in that radio is no longer the only path to exposure of new music, new paths have emerged in the church world, the streaming world, and the sync/commercial world for people to hear and fall in love with songs. I think this is a good thing for radio as the burden is no longer 100% on it’s back, and it can cherry pick hit songs from the other worlds that could possibly be more likely to work for radio audiences. I do however, selfishly hope that radio will continue to lead in this area, moving and affect the church, streaming, and sync worlds rather than the other way around.
What advice would you give to someone jumping from radio to records?
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. That an Ian Maclaren quote Chris Hauser showed me early on that is huge for me. Learn to take “no” well. The relationship will outlast the song, no matter how good the song. Love people, even when they frustrate you. If you’re jumping from radio to records, you know better than anyone that radio folks see both the best and the worst (and the weirdest) of the Kingdom in the phone calls and emails they receive, and that’s a lot to deal with.