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Radio Interview


Drew Powell

Music Director


Ft. Walton Beach



Drews' Career Capsule
I worked at KALR in Hot Springs AR for a few years , then came to work at WPSM in 91.
I had to move back to AR to give my best to " the band."  I played in a band called Common Children starting in 92.  We moved to Nashville in 95 and signed with Tattoo records under Benson and started rocking as hard as we knew how.  After putting out 3 cds I began playing with Pete Stewart ( from Grammatrain ) and played bass for him for about 2 years. I then reunited with CC drummer Hampton Taliaferro, to play in the band he was playing in called the Rugs. I stayed for a while but really felt like I needed to come back to help take care of my parents and to concentrate on my love for Video and Film. ( I put that dream on the shelf for Common Children and don't regret it...wouldn't change a thing )  I moved back to FL a little over a year ago and feel like I am right where I need to be now.  Now I can focus on Film and continue to play music whenever I want and I'm really happy to be back at WPSM. The station has come so far in the last 10 years , that I have been away.  We sound better than we ever have and I look forward to what God has for WPSM.  This year will be 20 years of WPSM in Ft. Walton Beach FL  ...   I continue to play and record and am currently working on a few music videos and have some indie film projects planned for 2004. I miss rockin out with Marc ( Byrd ) and Hampton...I'm not going to lie to you, but I'm finally getting to work on a dream that has been so dear to me ( Film / video ).   

1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique?

Our market is Ft. Walton Beach, FL. Basically it's from Pensacola beach to Panama City beach  (includes Destin , Navare, ) Our market is unique because of the location and how many people come to vacation here. We get so many e-mails from people living in other states, that say they vacationed here and listened to WPSM....they say things like.." I wish we had a station like yours where WE live.  The Christian stations that we have are nothing like WPSM"   One lady was so inspired by WPSM that she wants to start her own station and called to ask us how to get started. ( she had investors from her church and wants to sound like us ) This is a great place to reach those people on vacation, that might not normally listen to Christian radio. They come here to get away and are very open to something fresh, new, and different and WPSMs'  programming can give them a new glimpse into Christianity and Gods' love for them.

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

I'd have to say that Christian radio is a way to reach people that never go to church or maybe are not able to.  It's fulfilling to know that we can be another voice for God to use in their lives.  With the music and it's higher standard of excellence, I believe that people are more open now than say 10 years ago, to actually listening to the message instead of being turned off by the poor production quality.  Christians need to be on the cutting edge of creativity and not just imitate every cool new style of music that comes along.  We are reflections of the Creator and He has given us an ability to create. Even if there is "nothing new under the sun", we can still "sing a new song." 

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

God has used me as music director and AM drive host for WPSM for right now.  I feel that I have an ear for good music and feel like the Lord has used me, at WPSM, to not only keep the music fresh but to also be here to listen to others. I have learned so much from my good friend at Integrity Music...Mark Giles. He has taught me so much about giving and really loving others.  That translates into, what I feel, is a genuine compassion for our listeners.  Some will talk your ears off but maybe they don't have anyone else that will listen to them.  Being music director is not hard because we get so much good music from the industry... it is much harder to make yourself genuinely available for your listeners. ( in the middle of promotions, tracking,and air shifts )  I try to really listen and to be sincere.  I want to be a light to hurting people and not just an entertainer.

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

We listen to everything that comes our way and can usually tell a good one in the first 15 seconds of the song ( production quality must be great and match our other songs ) I listen for a message in the song (kind of a given on that part ) but I also listen for hooks in the lyrics AND in musical lines...( riffs ) the song "Kiss me" from Sixpence, I consider the hook to be the bass line AFTER the lyrical hook..."so kiss me."  It could be because I'm a bass player but that is what really drives that song home for me. I am loving the Audio A song "Leaving 99" because of the message and especially because of the RadioHead feel, at the very start of the song. ( that song is a good example of the first 15 seconds theory )

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

Promotions for WPSM are very listener friendly meaning that we try to put ourselves in their shoes, to be able to give them more of what they want and that extra mile, bonus reward for being loyal to the Positive Choice. I am a firm believer in allowing the listener to feel like they have the special, inside scoop, and that they are "family."  ( we're in this together ,sort of attitude )  It's kind of like fans of a new, underground band that feel like they had a hands on part of breaking a band. I think that also goes for radio stations. Give-aways and free stuff is always a nice treat for them. ( win it before you can buy it...)

Postive Promotions and worthy causes such as blood drives and feeding needy families are important to us. We have been doing "Jesus Cares" for over 15 years now, helping to feed families and give children presents during the Christmas season.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?

We love the keep 'em coming.  Other than that, I can't think of anything right off hand that they could do better.  Since I have been back in radio, I have been impressed with the service from the industry.  I have made friends instead of just hearing a sales pitch or a pressure sale.  I think being as real as you can be is a good start when trying to push songs.  Artist accessability for liners and interviews is a good thing and really improves the sound of any station. ( that has been pretty consistant and is much appreciated )

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

One of the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio I think is disbelief.  That would be on the sales side of things.  I hear shop owners say they don't want to be associated with "Religion" and that seems like an excuse.  Or maybe they don't believe that we have as many listeners or as much influence as we say we do.  The ratings don't lie and even though we beat out 7 or 8 other mainstream stations in our area, they still have reservations .   Kind of like the Christian band thing that I use to encounter...." Oh, you guys are a CHRISTIAN band."  People find that out sometimes and automatically turn off or listen with a bias or pre-supposition. Of course the staff really believes in the station but until a business sees results, it's sometimes hard to convince them that we truly do have the "best deal" in this area.  Now, with the merging of mainstream and Christian, I believe our biggest obstacle has been shoved out of the way.  We have opened a window to the world, showing them a side of Christianity that has not had a lot of respect in the past. ( maybe due to poor quality or lack of awareness ) And why not share the good news with as many people as possible. "Go into ALL the world and preach..."  I'm so happy to see mainstream embracing some of my friends and feel like it has been a long time coming. (Remember all the Amy Grant fuss with Baby Baby)  We have come a long way since then.

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

I think he/she should be sort of a traffic cop..directing peoples attention here or there but staying out of the way, at the same time. ( In and out and not a lot of talk is a good thing ) You can really say a whole lot in just 30 seconds or a minute and then it's right back into "the best in today's Christian music."  I learned that from Bob Augsburgs' articles , back in school. 

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

WAY FM  ...I always enjoy listening when I go back to Nashville. I know there is the whole network of stations almost like chain restaurants and that is a good thing. Since I have been playing music for the past 10 years and been on the other side, I feel like I need to play catch up with everyone to give a better answer, but I will say that what was true back then, still stands today and has stood the test of time.  I still have a big binder FULL of articles from CRR / Bob Augsberg, that we would study at college. I still go back and read through them, to remind myself of how things should be run.

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

I see Christian radio growing quite a bit in the next 5 years mainly due to the widespread acceptence of Christian music accross the board.  I hope that it continues to be a light in the darkness and an evangalistic tool as opposed to trying more and more to be like the "other guys."  (Just there for entertainment)  I do believe we have to sound just as good , if not better, so that when non-believers tune in we can keep their attention. There is nothing worse than bad radio and someone just talking to hear their voice and how cool they sound. We don't want to get in the way, if you know what I mean.  " It's about the music man..."  Really , it's about the message within the music that we want to keep site of.

 Music , by itself, with the annointing of God, is just as powerful as any lyric can be, but that seems like a topic, for a whole other article. " Tune in next time when Drew tackles the difficult question of Art and personal preference. Sorry for rambling. It's been a while since someone asked me what I really thought!


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