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Radio Interview

Dave Brooks

Station Manager/New Life Media Engineering Administrator



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Dave's Career Capsule
I began in radio shortly after college, doing weekends for WIBI in Carlinville, IL (New Life Media Network). It was an hour and a half commute each way from my home in St. Louis and I’m not sure my check covered the driving expense, but I loved it. That was back when we put nickels on tone arms if the needle got stuck on a record…

After becoming full-time production director with WIBI, I moved to Peoria to serve as station manager for 91.5 WCIC, also with New Life Media. Over the years I’ve spent mic time doing evenings, afternoons, and mornings—and now focus almost exclusively on management. I also oversee engineering administration for the stations and translators in our group.

1. How has WCIC evolved over the last few years?

We’ve always been committed to community service. But we’ve been gripped by the research trends over the last few years showing that the guy on the street has a growing unfavorable perception of Christians. He sees a disconnect between our words and our actions. To help counter this, we’re allocating more promotional capacity than ever to mobilize volunteers for community service projects. We want to give that guy on the street reason to do a double-take and reconsider his negative stereotype. Whether recruiting volunteers to help with back to school registration, or helping to winterize homes in under-resourced neighborhoods, we’re looking for innovative ways to use our megaphone to encourage tangible expressions of the love of Jesus in our community.


2. Has WCIC made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in any way?

Around last November we began to see a trend of more donors than usual contacting us to disengage with their support because of financial difficulty. In fund-raisers since then, we’ve done our best to communicate sensitivity for those experiencing hardship and to appeal to others who can make up the difference. We’re shaking our heads in amazement. We just had a fund-raiser last week where listeners stepped it up and met the goal a day early. We’re now on a pace to exceed budget for 2009.


3. What do you think are the main characteristics of a Christian radio GM?

The managers I respect the most have genuine concern for the people on their teams and offer a clear sense of where the ship needs to be steered. 


4. What ways or methods do you think work best to keep your staff motivated?

The highest functioning teams are self-motivated. I believe this happens naturally where there’s a culture of respect, deep buy-in for vision, and when team members feel their roles fit their gifts and passions. Rewards have their place, but author David Bernstein’s observation about social entrepreneurship resonates in our non-profit, ministry-driven environment: “If you are phenomenally successful you don’t get rich—you change the world.” Hearing how the station had a role in helping to change the world for an individual… that’s motivating.  


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

Promotions that are designed specifically to either build cume, extend time spent listening, or deepen the brand.


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

Labels have done a terrific job working with radio for many years. Our biggest challenge will be to continue collaborating as allies as the plate tectonics shift even more for radio and for records. Independent artists no longer have to have labels to create with excellence. Radio is competing with Internet for media share. As the pie slices get smaller, I hope the established radio and recording communities can work together to come up with creative, win/win ideas for new business models.     


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

I think our biggest technical/strategic challenge is to figure out what our organizations need to do in order to ride the new media wave instead of getting wiped out by it. Our biggest challenge related to mission is to present a winsome, authentic picture of what it means to follow Christ in an increasingly skeptical world.


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

I like to hear air talent having fun and connecting with listeners on lots of different levels. Sometimes we need to talk about an embarrassing moment and just laugh at ourselves. It takes “everydayness” to build the relationship with listeners. But our over-arching goal is to model what it means to follow Christ and let a living faith spill onto the mic. We want His truth and His love to be embedded in the stories and conversations that naturally flow from our lives.


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

KTIS is doing a terrific job on-line with the “Prayer Works” emphasis and through volunteer engagement efforts with their auxiliary website: WPOZ in Orlando is consistently recognized for their programming excellence, but I look to them for leadership when it comes to engineering excellence as well. I was thrilled when their chief, Randy Woods was recognized by Radio Ink in April as one of the 30 most admired broadcast engineers in America.


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

It will be less about radio and more about our cause.


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