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Radio Interview



AJ Willoughby

Program Director


Camdenton, MO.


AJs' Career Capsule

I grew up in radio under my father (Andy Willoughby, “Big time radio management & sales consultant” now).  I literally was working in radio from the time I was 6 when I was doing child-voiceovers for the local car dealership and worked at every station my father went to, usually as the Top Environmental Maintenance Administrator (I cleaned the toilets).  In 1983 radio went from: “this is what I do in my spare time with my dad”, to “this is my career”.  I gradually worked my way up through the ranks from over night DJ to mid-days, to afternoons, to mornings, to production director, to music director, to program director, and also I did sales.  Other than Chief Engineer, I think I have held every position possible at a radio station throughout my career; however, the biggest learning curve in my career started when I worked in Wichita Kansas with some great programming people, Lyman James and Bob Thornton.  Reality hit. I grew up a lot. I learned a lot. I got fired. Bummer.  Afterwards, I went into mainstream radio and improved.  I spent the next half of my career producing and programming everything from Hot Country, to R&B, to News Talk, to CHR & Rhythmic, until God called me out of radio for a few years to do youth ministry.  Several years later, my wife, three kids, and I moved to beautiful Lake of the Ozarks to do ministry and radio consulting with my father.  A year, or so, later I started working with Jim at Spirit FM, KCVO, part time. A year later God released me to go back into radio and,  I started as the Creative Director here at Spirit FM, KCVO, until I got an offer to GM KCWJ in Kansas City.  After a time there I realized that I liked being a PD better than a GM; so, after a while at KCWJ, I gave my notice and here I am, back at Spirit FM as the PD, working for one of the best GM’s I’ve ever worked for, Jim McDermott, and I think I have the best programming staff there is. I love it.


1. How did you wind up at Spirit FM?

….See above….


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

I love people, and I love competition.  Designing Christian radio that competes with the mainstream market is a passion for me.


3. How has God used you in your role at Spirit FM?

My passion is to acknowledge Him in everything that I do… I want people to listen to the radio and say, “Man, this station is awesome!”  I want listeners to feel like our station is better and more professional sounding than any other station on the dial.  I want to be able to say, “OK Lord, I’ve put my whole heart into this and done everything that I can with what you’ve given me to make this the best radio possible, now I offer it to you for you to do something with it.”  Then when people talk about what an awesome station we have, we can give all the glory to God.


4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your station? 

We watch several of the radio and sales charts religiously (R&R, CRW, Jams, Etc…), that combined with gut feeling and some home grown research, polling listeners, and one of the best dog gone music directors in the biz, Kyle Miller (he makes my life pretty easy).  We are also now trying to get into more internet research.

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

We really try to develop promotions that go after the young mothers.  We also try to double most all of our prizes.  If we give away a day at the spa, we try to make sure that we give away a day at the spa for two, this way “Jennifer” (our stereotype targeted listener) can take a friend.  We also have some real active listeners, so anytime we can get the listeners to do something crazy for a prize, we go for it.  Fortunately, I am blessed with an awesome promotions Director, Jill Fletcher, who does a great Job of keeping things happening around here.

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

Although some of the Christian labels have really shined in professional standards, it seems that about a third of the Christian Labels still take the “We are Christian and don’t have to operate the same way the secular labels do” attitude (much how 75% of Christian radio stations operate) and put that into their professionalism as well.  This is a big mistake for both sides of the industry.


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

Mediocrity!  Mediocrity!  Mediocrity!


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

To minister to the listener in a creative, and entertaining way that the listener can relate and makes Jesus Christ real in their life.

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

Radio U.


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

Waking up and realizing that in order to compete for people’s lives spiritually, we need to compete for their lives in the natural.  We need to be purpose driven radio that will continually strive for excellence in ministry and professionalism in the on-air sound.  We are the head and not the tail, therefore we should not follow behind the secular industry in professionalism, but we need to cause heads to turn, think out of the box, and glorify God in all that we do.



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