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Radio Interview


Dan Hatfield

Program Director

WNCB / Refuge Media Group





Dans' Career Capsule
Started In commercial radio in 1979 Just out of high School Ė first Job in Brainerd Minnesota - Did every Job in every format. Became an engineering assistant as well as On Air Guy early on. I Did morning Shows In Des Moines IA, Eau Claire Wisconsin, Mankato Minnesota, Louisville KY, and Minneapolis all with the Air Name Dan Hatter. Was Program Director At KEEZ Mankato and then KDOG Mankato, then switched. My Career and became Chief Engineer In Minneapolis For KTTB Ė B 96, and then Red Rock Radio KQDS- AM/ FM TV before I got the Call to WNCB in June of 2002.

1. How did you wind up at WNCB?

This is a Great Story Of Gods faithfulness. I was a Huge fan of The Refuge/ WNCB in 97 Ė And relatively new believer while Programming KDOG in Mankato. I realize I had to quit working for commercial radio because it compromised my position In Christ Ė I asked God to give me a job in Christian Radio. I really wanted to be the PD morning guy at WNCB, because I believed in the ministry and wanted to be part of it. But it didn't happen, so I left KDOG any way. Did Engineering work; God honored me with some great opportunities building a new station in Minneapolis and then eventually lifes circumstances forced me to move to Duluth. (I am a single Parent and my youngest son is disabled, and I needed to move closer to family support) I was offered an engineering job immediately. But as time went on I got to know the staff at the Refuge, I became a volunteer. After my first weekend on air shift the GM figured out who I was and he started encouraging me tp go back on the air full time. He pretty much just told me to leave my other secure well paying job and become his PD. I had not been a PD for 5 years and felt rusty. But after prayer took him up on the offer and then realized that God had indeed given me the dream job I had asked him for in 97. Gods timing, you know!


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

This is the place where I truly feel like all my life experiences both as a Career Radio Guy and spiritually merge together. All the stuff Iíve learned and know comes together. And I see results, Itís the ultimate Job satisfaction Really. The cool thing is I get to do Radio which I love and serve God and bring Him Glory. I canĒ Live the LifeĒ at Home with friends and at Work. I Mean the Radio Life, if youíre really into radio; itís a lifestyle you know, not just a job right? But yeah that works for the spiritual thing too!


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

To numerous to answer- I think He uses me all the time but most of the time I miss it. Or donít even realize it. But I think God has used me to help change the landscape here, to break from some of the old traditional Christian Radio templates and help the station better reach mainstream culture.


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

I believe in a lot of Non tangibles Here - Gut Instinct and feel. there are many Variables; Because My rules are ďthere are no Hard and fast Rules.Ē In general the song has to have an upbeat or POSITIVE MESSAGE. Other than that, Familiar Artists usually get considered over unfamiliar, but not always. Some songs Just have a hook you know is great and will Blend with the current play list. I really have a relaxed view compared to many programmers, so maybe we add a song and the tests scores are low, we pull it and try a new one. Honestly that seldom happens but if it doee I donít sweat it. I really donít believe listeners are dropping like flies. If thatís the worst that can happen I can't really complain, I was thinking about becoming a brain surgeon, one little mistake there and well. By comparison this jobs gravy! I am old enough now to not Panic. Just find another song with a great hook and Message. When I listen, I ask myself if this is the kind of song that will be a gold or power gold in a few years? With the little kids at Beckyís house be singing this in the car seat while riding with her and still singing along in 20 years when there moms and dads?


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

WOW ANY Promotion, this is such a challenge because like most stations we are way bigger on the Radio than we are in the office. Get out there and meet your listeners at every opportunity, We win friends one at a time, our listener are our friends. For efficiency I like the one or two day Live broadcast from a Prominent Location, Mall Parking Lot. But its got to be for a cause that hits the Target listeners heart and touches them emotionally even if they cannot come to the event. We did a live food drive and suffered through several cold days in March to Stuff a Truck. Our Beckyís not only brought food but also they shivered with us, the baby showers are good. Any thing where you can meet lots of listeners (your target) in an efficient way and connect with them through a common need or cause.


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

Keep producing a great variety of new artists. So tons of records donít ever get added. Thatís the nature of this business, always has been. To help this format mature and develop we need to build a solid and broad artist base. Its good now compared to 5 years ago, but still not even close to mainstream Radio. Its gonna take time, And during that time we're faced with the challenges of keeping familiar safe rotations with a shallow base, and for us non coms, playing no commercials means more music and faster rotations. Our golds are going to spin faster than mainstream radio because we donít have the depth. In this format we need Golds to give the station a firm foundation of familiarity free stuff is good. We are promotionally limited so much more than the commercial side of the industry.


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

Lack of Good Marketing, We have Great Artists and Songs, great imaging, all the elements that Mainstream CHR radio had in its birth Ė But few stations are backing that up with dollars directed at reaching the mainstream culture with the message. I feel like we're the best kept secret in Minnesota. When all the Christian stations start penetrating culture with even 10 percent of what Mainstream Radio has this will explode! People are hungry for this, but we have to tell them about us on their terms. Once society in general opens up more and sampling increases and listeners grow, the entire industry will grow. The best part is God will use us to change lives though the process.


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

I hope its Ministry. That doesnít mean preaching, but hopefully the underling goal of your station is to reach hearts for Christ, overall your Primary goal should be to find the way to communicate with your listener so that the mission statement goal is reached. For me it means, be an informative friend to my listener, earn her trust. And let her know she can call about anything (even though she probably never will) And Iíll probably have the answer for her. If I donít she knows I would connect her with someone that does. Sometimes that someone is at the Mayors office sometimes that someone is Jesus.


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

Radio U because they step out on the edge, KZZQ Des Moines, because Dave St Johns is my Buddy! But really they get the penetrating culture aspect very well and demonstrate some great marketing. I have not had a chance to really get to know a lot of other Christian stations well, but was very inspired last December listening to Z-88 in Orlando for 3 weeks. I listened and realized that they are working very hard on the inside to connect with the listener at every opportunity. For the untrained ear, it just sounded like effortless fun! Thatís great radio!



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