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Radio Interview


Michael Sadowski



Lansing, MI.



Michaels' Career Capsule

WONU Kanakakee/Chicagoland, 1991-1993; KECC Springfield, MO 1993-1995; WCFL-FM Morris/Chicagoland 1993-1996; MD at WBGL-FM Champaign, IL 1996-2000; APD/MD WBGB-FM Jacksonville, FL 2000-2003; PD WLGH Lansing, MI 2003-present


1. Tell us the events that led you to WLGH?

Coming to WLGH was the typical “I heard it through the grapevine” situation. I’d heard that there was potential for a PD opening here at The Light, and I threw my hat in the ring. Jacksonville, FL was a great city, and the station there was a good opportunity, but with new management taking over and bringing in their own people, plus mine and my wife’s desire to be closer to family in Chicago, the Lord opened the door for me to come back to the Midwest, and up to Lansing, Michigan.


2. What are some of your initial thoughts on the Lansing Christian market?

Seeing as I lived in Champaign, IL (home of the University of Illinois) for four-plus years, getting used to the surrounding area here in Lansing (home of Michigan State University) has been seamless. I like the “college town” mentality, the “youth”-feel of the market, and the people…the Midwestern/Northern-type attitude is one that I’m used to, and is definitely welcome. The Light started here in Lansing seven years ago, and this station has gone through a ton of changes, and yet the city supports the station nonetheless. I hope to continue to solidify the station, be listener-focused, and not only raise awareness of the station and contributions, but also bring people into a relationship / closer to Christ, with The Light playing some sort of role in that process. The foundation was here when I arrived…I see this opportunity as a chance to build on and further improve on what’s already been going on here for years.

Lansing is a “younger” town, obviously, with the college here. The median age is 30 years old, so we have our work cut out for us in our attempts to make The Light a listener-friendly, and overall the #1 family-friendly station in this market.


3.What are the biggest issues facing you in your new position at WLGH?

I think focusing the station overall on one, specific, person (and their age group) that we will broadcast to is a challenge for any station. Defining our target listener, getting to know her inside & out, and finding out as much information as we can about her is my #1 priority. Our station needs to be outwardly focused, meeting the needs (or at least attempting to) of our target listener who, quite frankly, uses The Light as background noise more than anything else. I hope the station can continue to be that “safe” medium that she can turn to for encouragement, and a safe “entertainment” choice for her whole family. Being a Christian station, we have the opportunity to touch our target directly with God’s love, and perhaps turn what normally is a casual listening experience into something meaningful, and provide an opportunity to be a “limb” of the local church by providing music that uplifts and encourages.


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

Several things enter into the “equation.” I always ask myself when listening to a song, “Is this song consistent in its message as our other songs? Will this song ‘touch’ our P1’s, and potentially gather those on the ‘outskirts’ into the fold upon hearing it?” And, “Is this a song that sounds like it will ‘stand the test of time,’ and is one that will consistently test well and still be in our library in 3 years from now?” Obviously, research we conduct is king, combined with answers to those questions, and sometimes, just going by what the ‘ol “gut” tells you from past experience. I love the philosophy, “What you don’t play won’t kill you.” There are times a song will blast up the charts, and if my station is playing it and it tanks consistently in research, then it won’t continue to air. Finding out what my audience perceives us to be, and which songs they expect us to play…getting this information is a #1 priority to me right now.


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

The best promotions that I’ve been a part of span several different areas. I like the ones that are fun to listen to on the air, drawing in our listeners who, of a vastly large number, would never consider calling us / participating in any kind of contest in the first place. I also like the “promotions” that are community-focused…opportunities for “Joe” or “Mary” listener to be involved in something that makes a difference in children or the community(ies) at large, even if it’s a tiny bit of money, or a small portion of their precious time. “Serving the community”-type “promotions” can really make that connection with listeners. I hope to do more of those in the future! Giving away cruises / cars / cash is nice, but if giving such large-ticket-type items fail to make a connection with the listener, in my opinion, there’s really no need / use in doing such “promotions.” They just take up time on the air.


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

I think they do a good job right now. More and more labels are understanding that “we need each other.” While it’s not my priority or in my best interest to sell records, most labels “get it” that it’s their job to do that, and we (radio) can help them sell records when they send us singles that make a connection with our listeners.


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

I think Christian radio is in a “50-50” situation right now. Many stations have come full-circle, and are beginning to become more “real,” and less “exclusive.” DJ’s that talk about (real, everyday) things that matter to people, not just a small group of people whom is believed is the “target” is happening more an more, and that’s a good thing (thank you, Martha Stewart). “Being in the world, not of it” is something I like to quote.

Music research is becoming more and more prevalent, and that definitely helps the station make connections and play the right songs (when the research is done correctly). Becoming more outwardly-focused and less inwardly-focused is a trend that has been sorely missed on Christian stations for a long time. It’s not time to relax yet, either…but it should be noted that it seems like a lot of stations are making progress.

On the other side, I wonder sometimes if some stations are still stuck in the “Well, we’ve always done it this way…and it’s worked so far” sort of mentality. I’m not accusing, because obviously, it’s impossible to listen to every single Christian music station in this country. But sometimes, when we read that some Christian stations aren’t successful, I start to wonder why. Sometimes, even some “outside influences” end up running the programming department, and that’s a detriment as well…in other words, letting someone/something other than the PD/programming department “run the show” thanks to things like someone’s (outside the actual station staff) philosophy, a phone call, a sales department, etc.   But by and large, I think that number of stations is becoming smaller…I hope! We have a tremendous opportunity to reach people…it’s one I don’t take for granted.


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

For me, I like to let our listeners see Christ through our on-air talent. I don’t mean in a preachy, “time-to-memorize-Scripture-now-kids!”-type way, or in a “I’m a Christian, and I’m better than all you sinners!”-type way either. Being real and being a real Christian is something that doesn’t come easy…but to be transparent, and all the while playing relevant songs that make a connection with our listeners is a win-win situation. It’s why we’re a music station. It’s great to say something on the air that will draw someone in, but more times than not, the email I read says that it’s a particular song/group of songs we play that gets people listening, and ultimately into a closer or a new relationship with God. It’s pretty exciting! Working hand-in-hand with our songs is the situation that can help a station win.


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

I’ve always liked the approach of the WAY-FM network. Granted, they’ve gone through changes like everyone else, but especially lately…they really make that connection with their listeners, and it shows not just in Share-A-Thon results, Arbitron ratings, or concert attendance. It shows in what listeners/people say about their stations…and how something that’s as trivial to people as a radio station has made a difference in peoples’ lives is a testimony to how God has blessed their stations, and to the folks that take that plan and make it happen. I also appreciate the more seeker-friendly Christian stations as well. There are merits unbeknownst to many that can be attributed to these stations, with sometimes a whole different set of obstacles to have to deal with too. Other specific stations I like are WPOZ in Orlando, FL, KXOJ in Tulsa, OK, and one of my former stations, WBGL-FM in Champaign, IL. The latter can be a prototype for “small market stations” to look up to. Heck, some stations in larger markets could learn a thing-‘r-two from them! I’ll be in trouble for not mentioning other stations…but those are the ones I look up to lately.


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

I see only the focused, smartly-programmed, “listener-in-focus” Christian radio stations and networks thriving in the future. While I’m not a “doomsayer” who thinks the likes of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius will one day “…make local radio stations obsolete,” it doesn’t take a Wall Street businessperson to see that droves of our listeners are getting hooked up with satellite radio. I still think there will always be a place for local Christian radio, but I hope that we, as an industry, can work together to continue to make that difference in peoples’ lives on a local level. It ain’t easy, and it isn’t always the simple path to take, but if working a little extra means ultimately changing the life of even just one person in the end, then that’s all that matters to me.


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