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Radio Interview


Steve Swanson

Program Director

WJIS / The Joy Network




Steve's Career Capsule
I have been on the air in some fashion since 1978. I worked at a couple of stations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, then the Quad-Cities (IA-IL) before joining The JOY FM staff in 1995. I am thrilled to be here!
1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique?

 Our main studio is located in Sarasota, market #78, but very much a part of the Tampa Bay DMA. As a station we’ve grown over the years in terms of signals and reach- Now being heard in cities from Gainesville to Ft. Myers.  There are plenty of challenges and opportunities as we compete for the ears and attention of listeners who can hear us.  There are LOTS of Christian radio stations in FL- more than any other state. Plenty of quality listening choices.  We constantly have new people- visitors literally from around the world who are coming in to our listening area(s).


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

We have an eternal message that is absolutely relevant to TODAY. Knowing that God is using us to touch lives for eternity is VERY fulfilling. I have worked at stations with other formats. It was disconcerting to know that I was only adding more noise to listeners lives. Here we interact with people at the core of their lives- As they deal with faith, family, work, relationships, and priorities. I talk to people, on the phone, in person, and hear from them via e-mails and hear their strong testimonies about how GOD is at work in changing hearts and lives.


3. Here is your chance to testify on behalf of your station...How has God used WJIS?

We’re doing our best to keep up with HIM as HE opens doors of opportunity for us!  Recently we teamed up with several of the stations in  RTN (Radio Training Network) for a four hour “Homes of Hope” broadcast.  Our goal was to raise $75,000 to build permanent homes for families who had lost everything in India during the Tsunami. God’s desire and plan was MUCH bigger than our own.  $960,000 has been raised!! That means 960 permanent homes will be built ($1,000 each). We pray this will impact lives for Christ. In addition to the fundraiser,  a member of our morning team was all ready planning to be in India for a missions trip before the disaster. He was able to “deliver” the donations directly and meet people who are coordinating the re-building effort. Throughout the year, we see God’s hand at work- connecting us with listeners and the communities we serve in amazing ways.


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

Our Music Director’s experience, balance of our current playlist, artist recognition, message of the song, & consultant input.


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

The ones that are well thought out, have a specific goal in mind, are easy to communicate and comprehend, and engage the heart and imagination of our listeners!


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

I think they are doing a FANTASTIC job!  They need to continue to listen to stations feedback, release FEWER singles, and keep their finger on the pulse of music and radio airplay. Offering downloadable singles seems to be a good direction.


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

We sometimes see ourselves as “less than” when it comes to competing with others in our markets. Lack of intentional marketing- We don’t tell anyone we’re here, and then wonder why they don’t know about us! Discovering and mining new talent. Forgetting that PRAYER is our greatest offensive tool. Settling for “ok” when our objective should always be excellence. Lacking VISION for our station and its impact, in the community and for the Kingdom. A commitment to personal growth, both in terms of faith and profession.


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

To be a companion and encourager. A friend that is real- Relevant, Expressive, Accessible, Loving. We also have the role of “connector”. Helping people intersect with a community of faith, discovering resources for themselves and their families, and getting a fresh glimpse of the reality of the body of Christ in our daily days. Gone are the days of a “big radio voice” being sufficient to cover lack of content or preparation. There are NO “throwaway” breaks!


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

KXOJ Tulsa comes to mind. Bob Thornton and his team have done some amazing things to help our industry communicate with one another and think “bigger” in terms of what we can do, and “deeper” in terms of who we are. KCMS Seattle continues to be a personal favorite for me- When I hear them I feel like I am listening to friends. Z in Orlando also comes to mind as people who are dedicated to their craft and are passionate about what they are doing!  No doubt there are many others who are making a big difference in the places they serve, I am just not personally aware of them.


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

More effective! I am hopeful that we will continue to take our calling seriously- I believe we can be much more visible, more community conscious and continue to reach more and more people. I truly believe that many more would choose to listen, if they only were aware that we exist!  In 5 years my hope is that we’ll be using all of the tools at our disposal to touch more hearts than ever before! I pray that we’ll break out of some of the “boxes” we have created for ourselves and truly be authentic people who care deeply for the mission and ministry we have been called to carry out. I hope we will pray bigger, dream bigger, grow personally and SEEK GOD! I am excited to see how God might use us in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead. I believe the BEST is yet to come!


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