3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
There are no talents I have that weren’t God given. There are no opportunities that have come my way that weren’t God’s doing, and often they were an answer to desperate prayer.
Frightened for my future and really just wanting to do radio, God took me to Malibu California where All Access Music Group had opened its doors to me, just as radio had closed theirs on me in 2000. At that time All Access was a great, new, online radio trade publication, struggling to obtain revenues for online marketing.
I wasn’t a sales guy so that’s where most of the fear came from, but also the spoiled part of my soul that just wanted to be a radio guy,” waaaaa waaaa waaa!”
Sometimes We Think Smaller Than God Wants Us To
But God blessed my time at All Access and weekly online revenues that were maxed out at about $3000 a week before I got there, became $13,000 in my first week, and then soared as high as $65,000 per week, as I found the hole in the All Access model. All Access wasn’t broken. In fact, all of pop, rock and the secular radio formats logged onto the site daily, but the missing piece was that the record community had no idea how powerful the reach of this website was. After 9 months, I had fully educated the record industry on the power of this site.
At the time that All Access had opened doors in Nashville in 2002, with Jim Asker at the Country helm, and Jason Miller at the Christian helm, I was the GSM for All Access and heavily aided our entry way into this space.
In spite of making way beyond six figures each year, I became restless and began praying to God to bless my steps. I had given up on radio, since I had been out of it, now for five years, but I kept praying the same prayer, really singing it in the form of the song in my CD player from Paul Baloche entitled, “Prepare a Table.”
“You prepare a table for me, bless me in the presence of my enemies…”
And for months, the same song played in my car, the same prayer, and the confidence that he was hearing me. During a trip to meet with record labels in New York City in late summer 2004, my boss, Joel Denver and I walked the energy ridden streets of Manhattan where I told him my heart.
“Joel,” I said, “I believe 2005 will be my last year with All Access.” I told him I felt God calling me back to radio. Just then my phone rang, and I saw that it was a call from the 704 area code, to which I asked, “Where is the 704 area code from?” Joel took a guess saying ‘Charlottesville WV,’ and he was close, but boy was I far off.
It wasn’t 2005 at all, it was now. A hip hop station in Charlotte NC had just launched and they were seeking a program director, and THIS is how good God is. The hiring manager, Bruce Logan, was given a name of someone he should call. It wasn’t me, but it was someone I had hired to replace me eight years earlier at a successful pop station in Greenville SC. And the thought of that person led Bruce to remember me and that was the call that came in on that day of our meetings in NYC.
Within a day I was in Charlotte interviewing, and within 3 days, I was offered ¼ of my income at All Access to program Hip Hop in the Carolinas, so of course I took it; having less money to manage is easier, right?
It was there where I met the woman I would marry. Our paths would cross professionally one more time, when God elevated us both, at different times, to work for CBS Radio in NYC, in the same building. The only thing stranger than that, was that my brother Bryan also worked in the same building, so God was really showing off.
Theron Otis Feemster aka Neff U
In Charlotte, I met a humble music producer who was known more by the nickname Neff U, than his own name, after having major successes producing the likes of Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo and so many others. He was from the Charlotte suburb of Kings Mountain NC, but on his trip home to see his family, we had a chance encounter.
What struck me most about Neff U, whose name is Theron Feemster, was his faith in God, and the depth in which he could carry on a conversation of the sometimes simple, yet mysterious truths of Jesus.
As a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston in the early 2000’s, Theron recorded beats and music in his dorm room, which fell into the hands of Will Smith; and because God is who he is, those beats became the theme song for Men In Black II.
Theron’s God given gift of music was quickly noticed and before he could set out a plan to create a career, Dr. Dre took Theron under his wing. Feemster’s light was so bright, the likes of Suge Night, and others just wanted to be in his presence. Feemster is the worship leader at Spirit Food Christian Center in Canoga Park, CA.
Google His Name Just For Fun
Wikipedia notes, “Theron started playing the drums and piano at 2 years old. Early on it was obvious that he was blessed with an incredible musical gift. Having grown up in his father’s non-denominational, North Carolina church, Neff-U learned to express the way that God made him feel through music.”
David Smallbone, manager of For King & Country was looking into the future for the band and had it in his heart that our Industry needed to look further into the greatest producers for our music, and not just stick with the great ones we already have. David had mentioned names and they were big ones, and I didn’t think anything of it, until I got to my car and God reminded me about Feemster.
I yelled David’s name, and I asked him if he had ever heard of Theron. He hadn’t. It had been years since I talked to Feemster myself, so the chances of me, getting them in touch was going to be slim.
David did his research on Theron and liked what he was seeing, so I dialed Theron’s digits. In spite of being in the studio with Demi Lovato, and in spite of not recognizing my number, Mr. Feemster picked up. It took a little explaining, but he did remember me, and I began sending him the music of For King & Country.
Later that same evening I got a text, “I LOVE THESE GUYS!”
After a face to face with Joel and Luke of For King & Country, I texted Feemster to ask how it went. His response text, “Brothers For Life.”
Dream the Impossible Dream
I see Theron Feemster as a great tool for our Industry and can’t wait to hear the anointed outcome when Feemster and FK&C make music; and then if I could prophesy for a second, Feemster’s influence with the likes of God’s girls, Lauren Daigle and Natalie Grant, and just what if Tobymac and Theron, or Jason Ingram collaborated now, for the future of our music format, and firstly, for God…
Music, with its mathematical quotient of only so many notes, has a tremendously limited opportunity for something new to emerge in music by the hands and minds of mere men, but with God as He aligns his people for this time has the ability to create through these people, music that has yet to be written.
NF, Hollyn, Micah Tyler, just imagine it.
Theron has had opportunities to become an artist in the mainstream, but has never felt that THAT is his calling…however, on this side of the fence, maybe the timing is right for him to put that toe in the water.
Feemster is in Nashville taking meetings all this week.
Since 1991, Rob Wagman has been known first by his faith, and then by his skills in the secular side of this Industry, and now is known by his versatility, having succeeded in both radio and records in multiple formats from Christian Contemporary, Rock, Alternative, Top 40, Rhythm, Urban and Hot AC, in various roles from On Air to Programming to Marketing and Promotions.
Wagman has worked in all of the Top 3 markets, LA, NYC and Chicago, and returned to LA in 2012 as his entry way into CCM, in PM Drive at KFSH, 95.9 The Fish before becoming the Network PD for WAY-FM.
In 2013, Wagman launched Straight Path Media + Entertainment, a consulting firm which hyper focuses on talent and each station’s greatest need for growth, supplying a la cart programming services for branding, from music strategies, promotional and marketing think tank brain storming, promo and imaging creative, talent coaching and airchecking. Wagman presently coaches 27 air talents, consults 13 stations plus 4 clusters.
Contact Rob Wagman at StraightPathMandE@gmail.com