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Radio Interview

Dick Whitworth

Assistant Vice President for Media

Northwestern College & Radio

Des Moines


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Dick's Career Capsule
From 1975 to 2004 I worked for New Life Media in a variety of capacities; including 17½ years as their Network Director for Radio Ministries.  In July of 2004 we took on a new assignment and moved to Des Moines to help pioneer a new station (Life 107.1/96.1) for Northwestern Media.  We are truly blessed and grateful to be a part of the Northwestern Media Family and the incredible team at Life 107.1 KNWI.


1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”? 

I think it’s as simple as – put God first!  Matthew 6:33.  So for me it has to do with having both a personal mission in life and a corporate mission – to reach people for Christ!  I am grateful that I have worked for organizations (New Life Media & Northwestern Media) whose focus has been on changing lives for Christ and being good stewards of the resources God has given us. 


2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?

In my opinion, it’s amazingly different and better!  Specifically - stations are utilizing proven radio concepts and principles to impact their markets.  We have affordable access to music research – (thanks to online testing) and we are doing less “contesting” and more target-friendly & focused promotions!


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

Today’s GM is less of a “manager” and hopefully, more of a leader!  He or she should be passionate about the purpose of the station, the product (on-air/programming) and the potential you have to make a difference for Christ in your community! 

I also believe you must value your staff!  Never take them for granted; give them opportunities to grow AND reward success.

Last, but not least – servant leadership is demonstrated leadership; it’s about being willing to do whatever it takes – from taking out the garbage to staying late to participate in a station remote or event!


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

For the most part it’s fairly simple – after a living wage; make it a habit to catch staff doing things right; express your appreciation often; recognize they have a life outside of work and surprise them with an occasional gift certificate or by letting them go home an hour early.  And always bring Starbuck’s coffee for staff meetings!


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

I think the best promotions today have three common elements –

1. It must be simple to enter and/or easy to participate in.  (She has a life and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out our “gimmicks.”

2. The benefit is for others – not your station and not even the listener.

3. It is something “she” cares deeply about; or has a heart-felt connection to.


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

I’m thrilled and grateful for all of the support and help we’ve received at Life 107.1; I’m not sure what they could do to better serve Christian radio.


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

I think that many of us would say funding and new technology are our biggest obstacles. As for funding (assuming your product/programming is on target) keep focused on your mission; keep telling the stories of changed lives and encourage your listeners to recognize the opportunity before us to reach people for Christ!

New technology is not something we should fear, but as we are able, embrace!  Having said that, my encouragement to station leaders would be - don’t worry about being on the “bleeding edge” but set your sights to be on the leading edge!  I would also suggest that you don’t take on more than you & your team can effectively handle!  New technology done poorly is of no benefit to you, your listener or your station!


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

Aside from what we often hear – be timely, relevant and thoughtful in your presentation.  My personal opinion (and concern) is that while more and more stations sound mechanically correct (music, imaging, liners, voice talent, etc) they are devoid of personality and if we aren’t careful, we will only sound slightly better than a well-programmed iPod.         


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

There is the usual list of stations in major markets – but honestly, the good news is - there are more & more stations in small & medium markets that are innovative too! 

I am grateful for the innovative & supportive people in my life – my wife, Jayne; co-workers Reid Holsen, Dave St. John & Dr. Paul Virts; John Frost and friends, Chuck Pryor & Paul Anthony!


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

I’m encouraged to believe that you will still “hear” Christian radio in 5 years and it will be better than ever before! 


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