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Radio Interview


Bill Dewees

Former GM WONU/Chiccago

Currently Air Talent at WSAE (

Spring Arbor, MI




Bill's Career Capsule
I began working as a radio commercial copywriter in 1982.  In Columbus and central Ohio I worked at WMVO, WSYX, WCKX, WRFD,and WTLT (light rock, country, news/talk, agricultural, and CCM). I was station manager and morning personality at WONU/Chicago (Shine 89.7) from 1991 to 2004.  I’ve had jobs ranging from copywriter, sales, every air shift imaginable, program director, station even helicopter traffic reporter!  I’m presently VP of Business Strategies for Visum, a corporate learning services company.


1. What have you been up to since leaving WONU in Chicago? 

My career took a big change of direction 2 years ago.  I’m currently VP of Business Strategies for Visum,  a corporate learning services company.  We work primarily with Fortune 500 companies in helping them to develop high performance learning and training environments.  Everything from consulting to developing custom curricula to creating a corporate University.  A big part of my life now is invested in working on my PhD in Education with a specialization in training and performance improvement.  My dream has always been to help develop high performance learning environments in which to train and mentor the next generation of media professionals.  Not just radio but TV, film, music, and all forms of digital media content.  All of my work and study are now taking me in that direction.


2. What is your involvement with Home FM in Spring Arbor, Mi? 

I voice-track the afternoon drive for in addition to some consulting.


3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio PD?

I think today’s effective PD (in any format) has to be visionary as well as being fast and flexible.  Quick to understand and adapt to the shifting media landscape.  In addition, I think it is absolutely essential that a good PD be a great talent coach.  In general, we have become pretty good at programming music but almost to the exclusion of developing great talent.  If we’re going to compete with all of the emerging digital media we’re going to have to become better at programming more than just “jukebox” music formats.


4. What ingredients make a “hit song” in Christian Radio? 

My daughter Mallory (who recently won the PD Forum’s “Music Director of the Year Award”) would probably be more qualified to answer that question than me, but I think the elements of a hit song are still the same as they’ve always been.  A well crafted lyric that relates and rings true to the listener (emotionally and experientially) in a fresh way, music that is relatable (yet is creative and doesn’t merely duplicate what is playing at the more highly rated mainstream station….I think listeners are looking for more than “sound alike” songs), and of course a great hook…ya gotta have a great hook!


5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio? 

I don’t know that it is really that different than at any other radio station.  I’m partial to lifestyle promotions.  For instance at an A/C station a promotion centered on home fix-ups or gardening would work well this time of year.  I also think that promotions that have a strong emotional hook are very effective.  As emotional beings we are drawn in by stations that reach out to others in need (and are good at communicating that on-air).


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

This is a critical time for radio and the record industry.  Radio is competing against existing and emerging digital technology and labels are trying to figure out how to better market their music to a new generation that doesn’t rely solely on radio to find out about new artists and music.,, file sharing, instant messaging and text messaging have become new channels of marketing.  Radio stations and labels should partner to find ways to exploit these technologies for the benefit of both.


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

For non-profits fundraising is a big one.  The older models of raising support are becoming increasingly obsolete.  Again, emerging media is posing a huge challenge to radio in terms of audience and advertising dollars.


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

It has to become more than being a board operator and reading liner cards.  Our personalities can potentially become our greatest asset as we compete against iPods, satellite radio, etc.  Our role is to entertain, enlighten, encourage, and inform.  To do it well requires great skill and a huge commitment to train, coach, and mentor.


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

Well, I’ve been out of the mainstream for a few years now so I’m not up on all of the specific stations but I have to give props to a couple of stations I know well… and and Carl Fletcher for innovating a primarily mainstream light rock station with some CCM in the mix and and Justin Knight for leading the charge with a purely CHR format.  Both, very gutsy moves.


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

I hope to see Christian radio as relevant, well funded, and well staffed (quality, not necessarily quantity).  The word radio may mean something different 5 years from now.  I hope to see Christian media on the cutting edge of culture, marketing, and programming.  I hope that we are the format to step up and truly invest in our future through training and education of our next generation of broadcasters.



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