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Radio Interview



Jim Kirkland

Director Of Operations and Programming

WMIT / Blue Ridge Broadcasting-

Black Mountain, NC



Jims' Career Capsule

Prior to joing Blue Ridge Broadcasting in July of 2001, I spent six years as  OM of the Entercom cluster in Greenville-Spartanburg (WFBC-FM/WSPA-FM/WORD and WOLI-WOLT). During part of that time, I was Regional PD for past owner Sinclair Broadcast Groups stations in the Carolinas as well as OM for the aforementioned cluster. I also programmed WRVR/Memphis, WDCK/Richmond, and WODZ/Memphis.


1. How did you wind up at Blue Ridge Broadcasting?

As I grew in my faith journey, I began to feel a calling to enter Christian radio. In May of 2001, my OM position with Entercom in Greenville fell upon the chopping block. A former colleague recommended I contact Tom Atema, GM of Blue Ridge Broadcasting just to chew the fat about the calling I sensed. To my amazment, there was a golden opportunity that had literally just developed. Tom is a masterful visionary and knew the stations could be retooled and refocused toward a much higher potential. I caught the vision and came on board. The whole transition from general-market to Christian radio was fantastic. It was the most humbling and profound experience watching what God had planned for my life unfold in His perfect timing.    


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

To be used by God in the process of impacting lives via radio. Being able to add  value to people's lives is awesome.


3. Tell us a little about your company (BRB) and it's mission?

Blue Ridge Broadcasting is a division of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We operate two stations - WMIT 106.9 The Light which is an AC/Inspo outlet and WFGW The Truth 1010, which focuses on Southern Gospel (which is a hugely popular music style  in our market) with some teaching.  Our mission is simple: we ensure our programming upholds three principles- Evangelism to the lost and seeking, Discipleship to those walking with Christ, and support of mission actives here and around the world. How we do so is through programming that's finely tailored to the target audience of each station.


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

Of course, a title must be biblically-accurate and glorifying. After that criteria is met, it all boils down to what our target listener desires. In essence, what's relevant to her preferences in Christian entertainment and worship.  If criteria #1 is met, we'll go wherever she wants regarding music.  For 106.9 The Light, we're blessed to be able to conduct research and host a Listener Advisory Council. We follow the listener, not the format in all matters of music selection and programming in general.


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

Promotions that strike an emotional chord with our target listener and are relevant to her lifestyle. Preferably, a promotion should help foster concepts of Christian love I.e giving of time and talent for a greater good.     


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

Recently, our music director, Matt Stockman, and I have often remarked during our music meetings that the quality of music has been really exceptional of late. It's a trite saying..but oh-so true: it's all about good music. Everything else regarding what labels can do is irrelevant. I've never understood why some programmers overanalyze what the labels can or can't do for Christian radio. Labels that focus on finding and marketing good music that touches people will succeed - regardless of whether one measures that success spiritually or at the cash register.   



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

Our biggest obstacle is overcoming perceptions that people under 50 have long been held regarding what Christian radio is. Perception is truly reality. We've got to work on our stations' product intensely and market aggressively to overcome the beliefs that Christian radio is synomous with bad radio.


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

To connect with the listener and really bring something meaningful to her table - precisely the same goal for air talent in general-market radio. Only when that connection is made can we expect to be able to share our unique (and needed message) in the style most appropriate for our target listener.  


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

The Salem ACs are doing an impressive job in creating a product that's appealing to a general audience. I believe earnestly you've got to cover that first base, programming wise, well before even having a chance to move to second base and sharing more involved concepts of the Gospel message with listeners. I'm an admirer of KSBJ/Houston, too. 


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

If only I knew. However, I'm awfully excited at the potential. I whole-heartedly believe that with focused programming, some smart marketing, a heart for service to people, and, above all, keeping in earnest, humble prayer for God's direction, the potential is unlimited.

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