The Christian Radio Homepage



Radio Interview


Mike Couchman

Program Director


Grand Rapids



Mikes' Career Capsule
I've spent all of my career in Michigan so far (which is why I'm so pale! :-).  My first time on a real radio
station (not my Radio Shack FM wireless mic) was in 1993 at an Urban station in Lansing. 
I continued in Lansing doing Jazz, then a AAA station, followed by plenty of Country in Lansing and Grand Rapids. I also did mainstream CHR in Lansing and Detroit. WAYG/WAYK is the second Christian station I've worked for.  The first was WLGH in Lansing.

1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique?
Grand Rapids is an amazing place for CCM radio.  Including us, there are
four full time Christian FM music stations.  (We have a sister Inspo station,
there's another Inspo across town, plus a good Christian AC.)  On top of that,
there are another half dozen Christian stations with a variety of programming
(Moody, Calvary, etc.).  I've been told that this market often Soundscans more
CCM than top 10 radio markets.

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?
Prior to 9/11, I viewed Christian radio as just another radio format.  After that,
when hearing from listeners about how a certain song or personality helped them
get perspective, I was sold that our formats can connect like no other.
3. How has God used you in your role at WAYG?
I'm still learning how He wants to use me.  Being a newer member of the team,
hopefully an outside perspective has been useful among the team.  I think God has used
WAYG to help me grow as much, if not more, as anything I have contributed
so far to WAYG.
4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your station?
Will our listeners love this song?  Those that seem to have a fair shake at it
get noticed; and sometimes those that go against our assumptions too.
We have to need the song also.  Our playlist at the moment has quite a few
mid tempo songs, and ballads.  If another one comes along, we don't really
need it now.

5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?
Being new, I am still learning that too.  We recently were able to send 3000
CDs to GIs serving overseas.  That seemed to energize listeners.  At our two
packing parties, we had way more help than we needed. 

6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
Overall, I think they are doing great given the recent consolidation.  They often
come to radio with unique promotion ideas that create memories for listeners.
That used to be a little more rare than it is, even during boom times.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
Getting into a comfort zone:  Christian radio formats have made a few inroads thanks
to some successful stations, and that rising tide lifted many boats.  Yet it's just the
begining of what we can accomplish.  Whether we will depends on how many of
us are hungry for it.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality today?
To be more entertaining and compelling than any mainstream or new technology option,
while also providing a loving and open Christian worldview on real life, not religious life.
9. What (if any) other Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
Our sister station, WCSG/Grand Rapids, is a leader for their format IMHO :-).  WNAZ/Nashville,
WONU/Chicago, and KXOJ/Tulsa are always favorites of mine.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
For Christian AC, continued growth that reaches into more major markets.
For Christian CHR, there's either going to be an explosion for the format lead by
a couple of medium or major market stations (that may not yet exist).  Or, the
continued status quo that will relegate CHR as a fringe format that's not a viable
tool to reach listeners 12-30.
For all of us, as more of our music crosses over and we continue trying to be
more "relevant," there is a danger that we'll become indistinguishable from
our mainstream counterparts.  In five years, if we're presenting our Christian worldview
from a religious or politically right point of view, we'll limit ourselves to only a fraction
of the most devout.  However, if we're trying so hard to entertain that we forget to
include any Christian worldview, there won't be much of a reason to choose a Christian station
over a mainstream station.   Each format and each station needs to find that
unique balance for what they are called to do.


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