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Radio Interview



Joe Polek

Promotion Director/PM Drive


Freeport, ME.


Joes' Career Capsule

During High School, I did a lot of interning at sports talk stations and country music stations, as well as did a lot of PA announcing for sporting events. I attended a Community College in MD for 2 years, where I hosted my own Country music show once a week. In addition, I was interning at WXCY Radio in Havre De Grace, MD on the weekends. When I moved on to Messiah College in PA, I became the Production Manager just months after arriving, and also did play-by-play for our sports teams, which went to the National Championship game in Men’s Soccer and Women’s Basketball. During my senior year at Messiah College, I accepted the position of Promotions Director and Afternoon Drive host at WMSJ radio in Portland, Maine. I’ve now been here for 2 years.


1. How did you wind up at WMSJ?

I was a senior at Messiah College in the fall/winter of 2000. My sister, who lives in Maine and is the web-designer for WMSJ, e-mailed me and told me that WMSJ had a job opening and she thought that I should put in my resume. I prayed about it, and then made a demo tape and resume, and sent them off to WMSJ. I heard back from the station, and for Spring Break, while all my friends headed South to Florida, I went North to Maine, for a job interview. I received a call back, and after much prayer, I accepted the job as Afternoon Drive host, and Promotions Director. I left my final class at Messiah College, packed up the U-haul, and headed to Maine. I left school on Friday, and started my full-time career on Monday. It was quite a change.

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

Well, I have always wanted to be in radio since I was in elementary school. I remember going into my garage and “playing DJ”, by hitting pause on the tape deck between songs, doing the “DJ” thing, and then playing the next song.

What I love about what I’m doing now is that since I met the Lord, He has allowed me to do the thing that I’ve always wanted to do, but do it for His glory by sharing the Gospel over the radio with thousands of people. Knowing that when I am in the studio between 3pm and 8pm playing the songs, and talking for a few seconds, God is using me to encourage, touch, and challenge thousands of people, is a really humbling thing.

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

Well, maybe you should ask my boss that question. One thing that I believe is that I’ve helped bridge a younger generation of WMSJ listeners. All of the Staff here is over 30. Two years ago, when I arrived WMSJ started to make the transition from straight AC to Hot AC. We have not only expanded our listener base, but we have developed a great teen listener base. I feel that having a younger host in the afternoon has enabled us to relate to those teenagers a little better.

4. What is the one thing that stands out as unique about your market?

I could go on about this one for hours. Portland, Maine is not in the Bible belt by any means. Christian Radio here is a whole different world than Christian Radio in the south or the Midwest. You can’t do the same things here as you do there, musically and spiritually. I love that about our staff. We all know and understand that so well. We know that we have to do our own thing.

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

The kind with VeggieTales! If I gave away a VeggieTale pencil, that would be the best promotion of the year. Our listeners love the family prizes and also they like nights away. Luckily, God has blessed us with many supporters at local hotels, motels, and inns. We’ve been able to give away lots of overnights, and our listeners have really enjoyed those. Whether it’s for Mom and Dad, or the family of four, they just enjoy getting out of the house for a night.

6. What do you do as a promotion director to balance programming and sales needs and desires?

I’m always looking for those new contacts. Whether it be the new business in town that I contact about a promotion, and then after that is successful they move on to underwriting with us, or finding the contact for Laurie Smith (Trading Spaces) or Mike Skupin (Survivor: Outback), and getting us on-air interviews with them to connect with our listeners, I love finding new ways to get different people involved with our ministry.

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

I think Christian musicians needs to strive to make songs that relate more to every day life, and then Christian radio needs to strive to play those songs. Mainstream songs are great because people love hearing about their lives in stories through music. Not until Mark Schultz’s “He’s My Son” and Scott Krippayne’s “I’m Not Cool”, was there really anything that had to do with every day life situations. I wish (as does Scott) that more stations noticed how much that song related to their audience, and played it. We did and it became the most requested song of 2002. I’m very interested to see how Steven Curtis Chapman’s new CD “All About Love” does. It’s love songs written to his wife, not necessarily to God. That is not a norm in Christian Music. If it were anyone but Steven, would stations be adding it so easily? I’m not so sure.

I think artists are starting to tell more stories, and have real-life situations in their music. Songs like “I’m Not Cool”, “Think of Me”, “How Do I Love Her?” are recent songs that our listeners have really gotten into.

As we Christians know, it’s not all mountaintops, but a lot of the songs we play make it seem that way. I had this discussion with a few folks at GMA this year. I really think more Christian songs that dealt with every day life/real-life situations would be very successful for the industry.

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

To be a positive influence on the radio for their community. To be an alternative to all the other stations that their DJs speak of things that you get embarrassed about when your kids are around. We need to be a light in the dark world.

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

After reading a recent interview with Dave Masters from KTSL in Spokane, WA, I’m going to say they are! I loved everything that he said, and the thoughts he had were right on with what the staff at WMSJ has been thinking.

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

I see us becoming more of a factor in each market. I think that secular stations will have to start paying attention to what that Christian station down the road is doing, as we are attracting all of their listeners. I’m excited to be apart of it.


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