The Christian Radio Homepage


Radio Interview


Dave Senes

Program Director


Ft. Myers



Daves' Career Capsule
Until coming to WAY-FM, I spent 10 years working in Chicago radio. I started with the glamorous job of counting the splices on reel to reel tapes for 4 bucks and hour. I decided to promote myself and work for free at the former WPNT (now WNND) Chicago as an intern for the Fred Winston morning show. I eventually became his producer which launched my career. I worked at several mainstream stations including 101.9 The Mix, both on the air and off, and eventually ended up as the PD of Salem’s WYLL. I spent 4 years there prior to joining the WAY-FM family.

1. How did you wind up at WAYJ?

While working for Salem in Chicago, I was asked to serve as the interim PD to help launch the FISH. During that process, I met WAY-FM’s consultant John Frost who was also consulting the FISH launch. John and I became friends and kept in touch. After leaving Salem, John contacted me about the opportunity to come to WAY-FM. At first I wrestled with God over leaving Chicago, but after a lot of prayer and a 3 hr. phone call with Doug Hannah (network PD), John and Jeff Taylor(GM/WAYJ), the deal was sealed.

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

I hope this doesn’t sound trite, but for once in my career, I feel like my talent is going toward so much more than just helping to bolster a company’s stock price.


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

Varsity football game. Christian school vs. Giant public school. We’re there with the van playing music while watching the Christian school getting clobbered. At half time a couple of the public school cheerleaders come over to the van. I was expecting a crude remark or at least a jab at the Christian school kids for getting beat so bad. Instead this stunning 16 year old cheerleader, in front of her “in crowd” cheerleader friends, broke down and started crying. They were as shocked as me when she said, “I just want you to know that your station is very important to me. I depend on you to help me know what’s really important. I listen to you guys every morning so I don’t go crazy at school”. That story pretty much sums it up for me.


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

Again, not to sound overly simplistic, but we just ask our target if she likes the song. If she says yes, we play it. If she says no, we don’t. We spend a lot of time and energy on research to find out what she wants to hear.


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

Our listeners really enjoy rallying around events that make their community better. They also enjoy winning stuff, but the key is balance. Good promotions are always truly beneficial to the listener. Getting listeners to jump through a bunch of hoops to have a “chance” at winning something is really self-serving. Doing that makes it about you, not them. We try to make our promotions very simple while letting production values, and theater of the mind keep their ears and minds entertained. People have heard all the cliché radio gimmicks, so finding a unique approach is key to making it different from all the rest on the dial. A very small percentage of people will actually try to play radio games, so you have to keep them entertained in the process.


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

I am always looking for creative and fun ways to promote the artists and music we play. Good artist audio is hard to come by. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but as a programmer it would nice if labels would give us access to quality (no fuzzy phoners) audio for us to use in our imaging. I’m not talking about cutting a million liners that say “this” is my favorite station. It would be great if we could just get fun outtakes of studio sessions where the artists are just being themselves having fun and talking about the music. I haven’t thought it all the way through logistically, but if there was a way you could get that kind of audio to me on a regular basis, it would be all over my imaging and would make your artists that much more relatable to my listeners.


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

I think we still have a ways to go in overcoming the stereotype of what “Christian” radio sounds like. I think a lot of people still think they’re going to get thumped. Quality of the product is another issue. For the most part, mainstream radio sounds good because they have to in order to get ratings and survive. Christian radio has to understand we are competing for the same listeners. If we think all the Christians are just going to listen to us we’re kidding ourselves.


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

To connect with his/her listeners in a way that no one else can. I think you have to reflect and relate what’s happening in their world through the grid of being a Christian, and talk about getting through life the best you can just like they do.


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

I think Salem’s FISH format has to be included as an innovator… not because of a unique sound, but because they were able to get Christian radio noticed in some very big markets. Many people are concerned about the commercialization of Christian radio, but for the listeners in those cities, the other option is nothing at all. I think the AIR 1 network is trying new things and doing a great job. I know there are a lot of individual Christian stations that are absolutely doing amazing things in their local markets.


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

I think it will have grown into a genre that is much more respected even than it is now. I think the music will be even broader lyrically. I think more and more talented people will come out of the mainstream, and make the decision to use their gifts and talents to promote a message of hope that is positive, upbeat and encouraging.



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