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Radio Interview


Donna Cruz

Program Director


West Palm Beach



Donna's Career Capsule
Began as a TV and radio voice over talent in El Paso, Texas. My first radio gig was at a public radio station in El Paso (KXCR).  While working that part time job, I was also offered a part time job at the CHR in the market (Power 102) which became my first fulltime midday gig. This was a springboard to getting a job (eventually middays) at the station I grew up listening to (and is now defunct) KTFM (Hot 103). From there I tried hot country (ewe!) and even smooth jazz (ZZZzzzz…..) for a few months till my next long term deal at KZEP (a classic rock station in San Antonio). While at KZEP I was also an entertainment reporter for the local NBC affiliate on Friday mornings. Then I bought a parka and moved to Minneapolis for middays at KS95 before coming to WAY-FM where I am PD/Mornings in West Palm and voice track Middays in Denver.


1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique?

South Florida is a true melting pot.  Less than ten percent of the population is native Floridian.  Besides moving here from different geographical locations, many cultures are a vital part of the South Florida lifestyle. Surfers and skaters, Cuban food and music, Guatemalan migrant workers, black and white and everything in between make up the South Florida market.  

It’s not just the many different faces that contribute to being unique but we in South Florida are surely NOT in the Bible belt…combine that with the beach and the sun…sexuality is a huge influence on the culture of our market.


2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?

It’s the same as it was three years ago.  Purpose.  After many, many years of mainstream radio I can only remember a handful of days turning off the mic and feeling like the job I did really made a difference.  In this format, EVERY day, every song can make a difference.


3. How do you personally keep the ministry in the business?

Our on air product is key, of course.  One way we are able to minister on air is to be very real.  Very transparent.  We laugh on the air (a lot) we cry…we talk about things that have really happened in our lives that keep us on the same page as our listener- reminding her constantly that we are not all high and mighty because we’re in the D.J. chair…we’re still messed up and broken.  These kinds of reminders have helped to build trust with our audience and I believe they feel like “they know who their dealing with”.  The music is obviously an even bigger factor and a great deal of wisdom goes into that.


4.What kind of promotions work best for your station?

Here is a formula I like to keep in mind:

Can everyone participate?

Is it bigger that one person wining a prize for himself?

Does it get the community talking about you?

If all answers are “yes” then ask:

Why are we doing this?

How does it the benefit to the listener?

If these can be answered without the word, Idunno, then we are onto something.


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

“The way we’ve always done it”.  We really have to be able to think in different colors and sizes about music, promotions, hiring talent. I am hearing amazing ideas as programmers and jocks become less timid about sharing the crazy thing they just thought of. So what if it’s a zillion dollars and we’ll never be able to pull it off, maybe someone else will spin an idea from yours!  P.S…read the book Marketing Outrageously by Jon Spoelstra!!!! I loved it!

There’s another book called  If it Ain't Broke...Break It!  I don’t necessarily buy into that but sometimes it’s worth looking into completely revamping an event or program.


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

The same as a mainstream radio personality.  Communicator.  We really need to be able to speak in a language that everyone understands. We can talk about getting rid of the secret handshake all day but log on to five different Christian radio stations on any given day and see how long it takes before you hear something that would make you go “huh?” if you were not a Christian radio D.J.  We have the hardest job in media:  We have to sound like we are shooting from the hip, yet be fully prepped. We have to be scripturally sound while we relate that knowledge to everyday events; we must be up on current events and not live in a bubble and talk about pop culture through a Christian world view without using preachy words!  Sheesh!  It’s really tough for jocks coming into the format- especially as we continue to study what turns people off.


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

If you can look at your specific company (not just the music you play) and say things are about the same as they were five years ago, this is probably where you’ll be five years from now, too. And if your vision and mission are not clear and clearly explained you might also be in the same spot.  I’m sure there are GMs and programmers who won’t mind and that’s fine.

WAY-FM has an aggressive vision.  I can’t even offer a prediction beyond the fact that we are aiming to impact the lives of one million youth and young adults by the end of next year. This was a goal set in 2003 and when we reach it we will celebrate, then, set a new goal. 

I think just as there are mainstream radio stations, newspapers, magazines and television cable channels- Christian radio stations as a whole will have some that rise, some that fall and some that stay the same.  WAY-FM, as an example though, having a mission and vision that everyone can put their arms around has enabled tremendous growth.  


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