Bryan is a native of Huntsville, Alabama where he
began a career at the age of 16 hosting a Christian rock show WNDA.
This past February marked his 24th anniversary in broadcasting.
Bryan worked for WAAY in Huntsville, AL, WBAM & WHHY in Montgomery
AL, and WCGQ Columbus, GA before coming to the Toccoa Falls College
Radio Network in 1992. He hosted "The Road Home" radio show for 9
years and now serves as station manager of WRAF & WEPC. Bryan
graduated from Toccoa Falls College in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts
in Pastoral Ministry. Currently he is working on a Masters in
Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In
early 2005 he launched ChristianPodcasting.com and is the host of
“The Christian Music Podcast.”
Tell us about your market and how it is unique?
programming on WRAF (a 100,000 watt station out of Toccoa Falls, GA)
is simulcast over WEPC (a 50,000 watt facility in Belton, SC) and is
heard over 3 translators which allow us to cover from the north side
of Atlanta, GA to the southern portions of Greenville, SC. Cities
served by our signals include Anderson, SC, Athens, GA, Gainesville,
GA and Franklin, NC. This is a very conservative region, which
highly values Christian Radio. We are very fortunate to have many
quality stations that serve the tri-state area of NE GA and the
is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian
Lives! When someone tells me they were moved to make a life-altering
decision to follow Christ because of something they heard on WRAF it
energizes me to work even harder.
do you personally keep the ministry in the business?
question and one that I constantly wrestle with. I was very blessed
to learn a lot about radio programming from my days in “Top 40”
radio. People like Larry Stevens and Cat Collins at WHHY and Chuck
Harris at WCGQ taught me the science of how to hook listeners by
providing a quality product that is “listener-focused.” I’m often
tempted to rely on techniques and conventional thinking when making
decisions. Keeping ministry at the heart of what we do seems to be
most often achieved as we ask the hard question of what does God
want in this situation. There is no magic formula… just the
disciplines of prayer and knowing what the Bible says, then applying
it to what we do.
is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your
If my wife
likes it we play it ;-) There may be more truth in that than I
should reveal. The official answer is that it must be a song that
serves a purpose. Does it contain a truth or message that lies at
the core of what we are all about? Wayburn Dean’s “Gotta Forgive
Them” comes to mind. With my time spent in “pop” radio I often look
for songs with catchy hooks such as “Love Rains Down” by Jaime
Jamgochian. Obviously checking how songs are performing around the
country is insightful and the song must fit our inspo format, which
tends to lean conservative. We have been evolving from a traditional
format to inspo over the last 4 years and that means that hymns from
modern artists such as the ones on Bart Millard’s project are very
kind of promotions work best for your station?
Due to the
huge coverage area we have and the limited resources, promotions
that are executed over the air versus a specific location are
preferred. Ideally we would love to be at every event of interest to
our audience but as a non-com operating out of a small town we
haven’t found how to best super serve our audience in this way.
Creative contesting allows us to entertain the listener while
meeting the needs of partnering ministries. Currently we are having
a big “War of the Worldviews” contest to help promote the upcoming
Worldview Super Conference from American Vision that we are
do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian
I love the
approach Wendell Gafford of Creative Promotions has. He’s concerned
that I find songs which will best fit my needs. Many times that
means sending me the full CD and recommending a cut besides the
single to consider playing. Wendell has also been instrumental in
getting many of the artists he represents to go back in the studio
and produce versions of songs with an inspo friendly mix. Recent
developments like Promo Only have been a big help but I would like
to see the labels get the full CD in my hand.
your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio
Homogenization... cookie cutter
sounding stations that lack musical variety, personality, and most
importantly SPIRITuality. Too many decisions are made without
genuinely seeking or following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Let
me be the first to say “mea culpa.” We need more visionary leaders
who can strategically position Christian Stations for Kingdom work
not just keeping the shareholders happy.
What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air
When I first
started it seemed like every announcer saw himself as the preacher
who needed to pontificate between every song. Very few of us like
being preached at by deejays. Our approach is to allow the
personality to be real and hopefully come across as someone the
listener will consider a friend. Steve Gimbert, our afternoon drive
host, is one of the best I’ve ever heard at this and it’s because of
his incredible ability to communicate who he really is. Listener’s
comment continually about how Steve puts into words the things they
feel and believe.
(if any) other Christian radio stations do you consider as
I follow are all friendly competitors. WMIT, the Billy Graham
station in Asheville, NC, has been a real inspiration for us. Under
Tom Atema’s direction they successfully made the same type of
transition we are making. His Radio out of Greenville, SC and The
Fish from Atlanta are great to listen to and do a masterful job of
connecting with their communities.
Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
I see the
rapid expansion of broadband and Wi-Fi as opening up incredible
opportunities for keeping Christian programming competitive in the
market place. WRAF recently launched a contemporary music channel on
the internet (with a CD quality stream) called MyFavoriteStation.Net.
We hope to soon begin a “classic” WRAF format which will feature
more traditional gospel music and even a Southern Gospel channel.
All of these will be hosted by WRAF personalities and gives us the
opportunity to remain a vital part of listener’s lives by giving
them the programming they want from people they trust.