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Radio Interview


Chuck Tyler

Director of Programming -Salem Communications

Los Angeles (KRLA-KKLA-KFSH)



959fm The Fish

Chucks' Career Capsule
Chuck Tyler has diverse experience programming stations of various formats in some of America's top radio markets. Recent career highlights include morning drive in Los Angeles (KFSH-FM, CCM format), Program Director positions at KXL-FM Portland (Hot A/C), WVEZ-FM Louisville (Soft A/C), WWKY-AM Louisville (Talk), and WLAC-FM Nashville (A/C). Chuck's earlier career includes being part of the programming teams involved in the launch of two diverse formats, B-94 Pittsburgh (CHR) in 1980 and KFI Los Angeles (Talk) in 1987. When not on the air Chuck enjoys body-boarding, bicycling, playing the drums and spending time with his wife Doris, 3 daughters, one son, and puppy dog Gizmo.


1. How did you wind up at The Fish?

My background was in general market radio for the past over 20 years.  Mostly A/C and Talk radio stations all around the country.  I got saved in 1996 and felt God was leading me into Christian radio.  I began consulting Salem in 96 and ended up working for Salem's Portland Oregon cluster.  Then in 2000 when they were brainstorming a new music format to debut on Salem's acquisition in Anaheim Ca, they included me in those discussions due to my music background.  I just spoke up and said basically I've found the PD for the station...ME.  They moved me down here to LA, we came up with the name The Fish and we were off and running.  Over time I've become involved as Director of Programming with all the stations in our Salem Los Angeles cluster, including the Fish (music), KKLA (Teaching and Talk) and KRLA (general market Talk)

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

To be a part of a organization that is truly impacting the lives of folks in a very profound way.  What could be more fulfilling than that.  Except maybe a Big Mac.

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

That's probably a question for someone else to answer.  I'm too close to the situation.  I can say that there are more people listening to CCM music in Southern California than in any other time in history.  I'm certain that God is using that to change lives...I just don't really have a very good perspective on how God is using me in particular.  We just do the best radio we can, throw it out there and let God handle the rest.

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

We don't share much of that in public due to competitive considerations.  We spend a ton of money doing all we can to determine what songs to play and we're not too crazy about sharing the methods behind our madness.

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

We have the luxury of doing things that really connect with folks at a deeper level than your garden variety A/C station, and we do those sorts of things on a regular basis. That's our advantage as a Christian station.  Plus we do regular things like Fish Fest events, some contesting etc.

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

This is going to sound very mercenary...but here we go.  Everytime I spend time with Record folks I harangue them about spending money via spot buys to promote their music on the station.  I wish they would flush all the goofy fly-aways, gimmicky giveaways and just invest in supporting their artists and the radio stations with time buys. Even if we aren't playing that artist or their music, there's no better way to expose the music than to put it into a 60 second or even 2 minute spot.  It's a tremendous win-win for everyone. 

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

Generally speaking I see a disturbing lack of confidence in using real research to shape the product.  Very few industries try to market products without research, but the Christian radio business seems to think that it's the exception.  If I had to choose whether to spend money on contesting, talent, buying a booth at GMA or virtually anything vs. spending it on research, I would choose research as the top priority.  Without research a radio station tends to get driven by the anecdotal comments from employees, clients, request line callers, emailers and walk-ups at station events. Those people are all atypical for a variety of reasons.  None of them are reflective of the the vast unwashed mass of real listeners that we never hear from or talk too.  The only way to talk to the real folks it to track them down and research them just like Arbitron does.  So it concerns me that stations build their product based on tiny focus groups or listeners panels, or email response, rather than doing research by talking to 100's or thousands of the real folks.  That will keep this format small in my opinion (at least as it relates to commercial stations in large or major markets)

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

Compliment the music flow.  Entertain in a well edited manner.  Be family friendly but let the music do the preachin'.

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

I don't get out of my cage here much, so I hear very little of other religious stations around the country.  At the risk of sounding like I'm just promoting another Salem station, I do think that KLTY in Dallas does a fantastic job connecting with Dallas and innovating.  And even more so in the last couple of years.  That's a huge market and the numbers for that station are monstrous.  It's tough in the larger, more fragmented markets to build an audience with any format, much less a niche' format like CCM.  For A/C radio at least I look for stations innovating in areas such as marketing and research, rather than breaking alot of new music, as the real innovators.  While it's important to develop new artists and music for the future, this format will grow even more so through innovating in areas such at talent, marketing and research.  You go into a market like LA or NY and hear an A/C station like KOST or WLTW and may think...what's so great about that station?  But they are truly 'innovative' in ways that may not be obvious at first.  Innovating in marketing, research, talent execution, morning shows, promotions...are all examples of ways to grow the format.  So not so much focus on breaking new acts.  More focus on the strategies that general market A/C's use to win in ways that aren't necessarily obvious at first listen.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Continuing to grow.  The audience for the format has grown exponentially in the past 3-4 years and I see this trend continuing.  There is still tremendous room for growth, lots of folks that don't listen to or are unaware of these stations.  So mass marketing, in ways that make sense, is important.  Still much untapped potential.


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