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Radio Interview


Mike Novak

VP Of Programming

K-LOVE Network





Mikes' Career Capsule
Mike Novak has known since he was a teenager that he is here on Earth for a purpose. God didn't save him from a nearly fatal head-on collision the week after high school graduation for no reason. For years, EMF's Vice President of Programming was left wondering what the great purpose was that God had planned for him. He often thought he might never know. Finally, the pieces of Mike's life began fitting together to reveal the plan.Things that were in me for years all began to make sense," Mike explains. "My talent is a God-given gift, and to be able to combine my love for the Lord with my talent base at K-LOVE is wonderful. Everything I have done up to this point was prep work, training." The design for Mike's life was in place before his birth, but the weaving of it began when he was attending Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif. He needed an elective and a friend suggested a broadcasting class. As part of the class, he hosted a weekly radio show on the college station. He had the voice, and he was good at it. "It was a way to act like me in a public, yet very private sense," Mike recalls. "I got to just have fun. Still, every time I get on the air I look at it like playtime. It's not a job yet. If it ever becomes a job, I will quit." Radio had seeped its way into Mike's blood, and he dropped his plan to get a degree in agronomy (the study of soil) to take a job as weekend announcer at KYOS, an adult contemporary station in Merced, Calif. After six months, Mike was stunned when he was offered a full-time position as afternoon drive announcer at rock 'n' roll station KDON in Salinas. This was no small feat for someone new to radio. It wasn't long before Mike sailed to the top, stepping into a plumb job at KFRC in San Francisco, the Top 40 radio phenomenon in Northern California in the '70s and '80s. Eventually, Novak was named assistant program director in addition to his stint as afternoon drive announcer. He was living his dream. "That's where I knew I wanted to work," Mike says. "I was really excited and I got calls from everyone I knew. It was the best of the best on the West Coast and the premiere radio station known by my peers." The most astonishing part of this story is that Mike never applied for the job. He says he has always been offered the best jobs, without him putting forth even a little bit of effort. God's prints are all over his life. After leaving KFRC and working for various other stations, Mike spent 11 years at Country KSON, the top station in San Diego, before accepting a job at K-LOVE in 1998. God also had a hand in bringing Mike to K-LOVE. One night, at a Bible study, he saw a pamphlet stuck in a friend's Bible. It turned out to be K-LOVE's 15th anniversary brochure, and a photo caught his eye. The photo was of an old friend with whom he had worked at KFRC: Bob Anthony, founder of K-LOVE. Mike contacted Bob and was offered a job. Mike looks back at his successful broadcasting career with thankfulness. He had no idea that God was preparing him to help a team of people to transform a Christian music ministry into a successful radio network. When he joined K-LOVE, God began uncovering the purpose for his life slowly, a page at a time. Now, Mike enjoys the time he spends on the mic more than ever, because he is not just working for himself, but for God. "It's almost fun therapy for me," he says. "I'm having fun and I get to be a light to people and have some kind of positive impact on their lives. When someone calls and says 'That's exactly what I needed to hear,' then I consider it a good day!" Mike's wife, Ann, has been a gift in his life, and was instrumental in his becoming a Christian. While working at KSON, he met Ann, who worked in programming. A Christian, Ann impressed Mike with the way she lived her life. They became good friends, and it wasn't long before he started seeking God himself. The Novaks have been married eight years now, and happily. He says she's the sunshine of his life. "She is my best friend, a teacher to me because of the way she lives her life," Mike says. "In the human sense, she is like half of me." Although Mike keeps busy with his career and his marriage, he still finds time to do volunteer work in the community. Recently, he completed the Sacramento County Sheriff's Academy. Now he serves as a volunteer for local law enforcement. All in all, Mike is happy with his life and he feels as though his life has finally come together. "Most recently, with God, I have learned to have more trust and faith," Mike says. "I am a better person now."


1. Tell us how God has led you into Christian radio?

I was in my 14th year in radio happily working away in a thriving career at KSON a country station in San Diego. The station was No. 1 in the market and I hosted a weekly TV showóthe whole nine yards. One night, at the end of a Bible study, I ran across the K-LOVE Radio newsletter. There, on the cover was my life-long friend and founder of K-LOVE Radio, Bob Anthony. I had not personally talked to Bob in some time. I called him and in the subsequent month or two, he started talking to me about joining K-LOVE. Within three months I found myself working here. God just grabbed me and yanked me here. He (God) opened every door possible and nothing in the move was difficult. From the first minute of the interview, my wife, Ann, and I knew it was the right thing to do.


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

Seeing people come to know Jesus. Itís seeing God use Christian radio to reach and touch people and affect their lives in such positive way.


3. How has God used you in your role at K-LOVE?

I can literally think back on everything that I had to do or learn in mainstream radio and I have used it here in my role at K-LOVE. I think God got me involved in management in mainstream radio and allowed me to learn all aspects of radio and then he placed me in the position I am in now as vice president of programming for K-LOVE Radio. He challenges me daily and asks that I do my part in developing my role. Itís an ongoing process.


4. Whatís the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your stations?

The most important step is that the programming department feels that it is a song that our listeners would benefit from hearing. We are blessed in that we have the resources to go to literally thousands and thousands of our listeners and ask them what they think of songs. So they tell us what they want to hear. First, there is a culling process for choosing those test songs. Our basic knowledge of our listenersí range of musical tastes allows us, from past experience, to choose music for testing. Of course, songs must also have a Christian message to make the final cut.


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

Promotions in which we offer something the listeners wonít or canít do for themselves. Our most successful promotions are when we are able to provide, through a third party, something that is monetarily or time-wise out-of-reach for some of our listeners. The typical K-LOVE listener would not go out and spend extravagantly on herself. We have contests in which we give listeners a day at the spa or a day of babysitting while they go shopping. One of our most popular promotions is giving a mission trip through our partnership with Food for the Hungry. We have had tremendous response to those kinds of promotions.


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

I think it is a symbiotic relationship. They serve us and we, in turn, serve them. How can they better serve us? I suppose by understanding each otherís needs. We need to know what they are trying to do and they need to know what we are trying to do. What is our common ground. We have had some high-level discussions and when we laid it all out on the table we found that we had a lot of common ground.


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

Preconceived notions on the listenersí part, or they have no notion whatsoever. We found one of the biggest obstacles for K-LOVE is that many people donít know we are out there. I donít think at this day and age itís a matter of product. Christian radio has really raised the bar tremendously in the last five years. I think we can compete on an air talent per air talent and song per song basis with anybody. In fact, we should do better because of our content. But people say, ďI used to listen to Christian radio and it was awful. Or we hear I just didnít even know youíre there.Ē


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

They should be true to their faith, to be a light and an example. To show people that you can be a Christian and laugh and have a good time. You can be serious when itís called for and you can have opinions and views. Just be who you are. To me, the most powerful thing is when I see someone living out his or her faith. That is more important than any words he or she could say.


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

I think a lot of them are innovators now. In my travels around the country I have encountered some really great Christian radio stations. I think maybe people arenít as afraid as they were to take a chance on a certain style or sound or discuss a certain topic or play a certain song. I think a lot of radio stations are stepping out now. I think the time has come. There are a lot of quality people in Christian radio now. With that quality thinking comes quality broadcasting.


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

I see it bigger and better than it is today. With all the things going on in this world I see a greater importance for some Christian radio stations than ever as witnessed by the amount of people who are going to see ďThe Passion Of the Christ.Ē


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