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Feature Interview

Nikki Martinez

Music Director



To contact Nikki click here


Nikki's Career Capsule

If youíre in radio and youíve never moved, youíre Mike Harper :) Thatís kind-of the joke at KVNE/KGLY in Tyler, TX because he is one of the few Iíve ever met that has stayed with Encouragement FM his whole radio career. I on the other hand have not been the case. Starting with a few internships while going to Baylor University in Waco, TX, I was ďconvincedĒ by Susan OíDonnell to go the radio route instead of trying to be a music producer when I interned at KSBJ in Houston, TX - seriously, I am SO glad she pushed me into this! After graduation, I worked as morning show co-host at Magic 104 in Conway, NH, Production Director at KVMV in McAllen, TX, Overnight Weekend DJ back at KSBJ, and Evening DJ at AIR1 in Rocklin, CA. Through all of that traveling and experience, I was blessed to meet my AMAZING Hubby, Nathan, who has helped encourage and inspire me daily. We actually got married March 16th, 2013...and moved, unpacked and started working in Tyler, TX April 15th! Almost 2 years with Encouragement FM - so excited to see how God continues to work through this ministry and my life with Nathan.


1. Tell us any recent changes (news) at KVNE?

Recently at KVNE/KGLY, the biggest news has been the new building weíre still wondering if is real or a dream. After 25 years in what was essentially a small house with 12 people crammed-in, in October of this past year we moved into our new building and feel incredibly blessed! Now, weíre gearing up for our Spring Pledge Drive, PraiseShare, in April, which will be our first one in the new building - PLEASE keep us, our volunteers, and donors in prayer through it all!


2. What is the best programming advice you've been given? The worst?

The best programming advice Iíve ever gotten: Listen to HER (your demographic). Iíve always been a talker, so itís easy to get carried away with talking about what YOU like. The reality is you have to treat radio just like a friendship - make sure you really get to know her, talk to her about what she would enjoy, and program music that she wants to hear (which can sometimes be ones that you enjoy as well).

The worst advice Iíve ever been given is: Let the music talk about Jesus, not you. Okay, I understand some of the thought behind this, that as radio DJís weíre not pastors ready to preach a sermon. But, to completely not talk about the gospel on a Christian station Ė it doesnít make sense. You have to find a balance, and remember that youíre listener is more than likely tuning in to be encouraged, inspired, uplifted and hopefully find a relationship with God


3. Regarding your career, what are you most proud of?

That no matter what downfall has come my way, Iíve still stuck it out in radio, and that God still uses me. Yes, each time has been a little different and Iíve been pulled and stretched quite a bit, but Iím GLAD Iíve been. Itís made me grow, and become more determined to stay with radio. 


4. What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?

Food. Just kidding (even though I do enjoy getting my grub on). I would say my prep. I do a good, solid, 2 hours of prep (or more), and even though I could wing a show if I needed to, I don't feel it would be my best. Just like anyone would prepare for an important presentation, or weekly meetings, I want to make sure that what I'm about to talk about on the air has thought and meaning behind it. No break is a throw-away break: when you start thinking that way, radio will begin to suffer tremendously.


5. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?

I think sometimes the best air talent are the ones who didn't even plan to be in radio. They're real, raw, and on-fire for God...and maybe were communication majors in college. I tell every college student I meet to make sure and do as many internships as they possibly can. There's a good chance that they'll start in Secular Radio, getting their feet wet, but really wanting to get in Christian radio - it's how I got into it. Also, those who've been able to grab hold of social media and run with it well Ė there probably will be a few who come from there and do well in radio!


6. Do you feel syndication is good or bad for Christian radio?

I don't think it's bad - it has its place. There are some radio stations that have very small budgets, and sadly can't afford to hire too many full time staff, especially if they're starting from the ground-up. Syndication can help fill in those gaps...for some time. I will say though, if you have the budget to have full-time on-air talent that are local and can connect with your audience, DO IT and skip syndication! Trust me, I've been from tiny markets to nationwide ones, and I'll tell you there is something amazing when you develop a real, caring relationship with your community.


7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?

Ourselves. Whether it's within the walls of a radio station, or stations against other stations, we could potentially be our biggest obstacle. Yes, radio is a business, and for many Christian radio stations, business is done in the form of listener support. But even though it's business, it's also ministry, with lives attached to it in a whole different way than other jobs and careers. Just like in churches and other Christian organizations, there are those who get burned so badly that they not only walk away from the group, but walk away from God. We have to be different, we have to find a balance, we can't lose brother's and sister's within a station or within the industry! Technology isn't our obstacle - it can actually help us very nicely. Secular radio isn't our obstacle, especially if you're a non-commercial Christian station - you play more music, which listeners like. It will be us, so let's figure out how to be the team we need to be!


8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

First and foremost, the one I look up to so much and get the awesome chance to work with her again, is Susan O'Donnell. Her personal testimony itself inspires me as a women of faith! And the way she connects with listeners, how she draws you in with a story, how she makes you NOT want to go into work - that is talent! Plus, she has the passion for God so much, wanting every person to know that they are loved, treasured, and have a place waiting for them after this life, if they want it! And on the Music Director side of things, she always reminds me to think about "Her," what songs she will enjoy versus the Skillet I'd like to sneak in here and there (okay, not really, but I do like their music a lot). I would also say I admire and respect Kelly Caldwell at K-Love Ė sheís the real deal! When I was working at AIR1, I can just remember that first week being so stressful, plus I was feeling a little bit of panic because it was the first time I was speaking to THAT many people on the air! She finished her show, saw the fear in my eyes, hugged me and prayed with me. The wonderful thing is she is like that always! She cares about every friend, every listener, and I know if she could hug and pray with every person who called into her show, she would. Genuine, talented, and downright a great person in a mega-ministry, it's impressive! Big time heroes - Alan Mason and Andrea Jaxson at KLTY. Alan isn't only about thinking outside the box, but he understands the connection that radio has with listeners, with a community! He can squeeze in so much info in such a small amount of time that you're with him, and it's useful information for sure. Andrea, well, she is just on FIRE as an on-air talent. She knows how to engage the listener, yet back away from the mic and let them be the focus. Plus, she's so spunky and sweet!



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