Market #65 (Ft. Myers/Naples/Marco Island) which is
one of the fastest-growing in America, As a youth
and young adult-oriented CHR, we battle an intense
demographic skew, with 50% of our market being older
than 55. It makes for interesting Arbitron analysis.
More than 1 in 10 people under 55 listen to WAY-FM
during the course of a given week.
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you
personally about Christian radio?
started in Christian radio 23 years ago and I worked
at a station (WSOR-Ft. Myers) that operated with a
clear-cut mission. Ministry was at the forefront, but
in those days we werenít thinking much about focus or
strategy. Since 1995, Iíve worked for WAY-FM and once
again Iím part of a company with a mission that drives
everything we do Ė encouraging youth and young adults
in their Christian walk, and introducing non-believers
to Christ. From a radio standpoint, we accomplish
this with an intense belief in the power of focus and
a strategy that works. Having a daily impact in the
lives of tens of thousands of people each day with a
ďcommon groundĒ approach that focuses on the lifestyle
of real people excites me.
3. How do you personally keep the ministry in the
has given each WAY-FM station a set of operational
goals that each local staff creatively finds ways to
meet. These goals are largely ministry-related and
they give us tangible ways to remind our listeners
that weíre not simply a Christian music station, we
really are a ministry, first and foremost. As a
staff, we meet together on a weekly basis to pray for
our listenersí specific needs and we also share time
in the Word. Personally, I also appreciate the
invitations I receive to preach in local churches,
often filling in for vacationing pastors.
4. What is the criteria that determines if a song
receives airplay on your station?
We test our
music and we make no apology for that. We work hard
to find out what our target listenerís favorite songs
are and we play them often. There does need to be
some inherent ministry value in a song and
worship-oriented songs continue to test very well. We
use our Listener Advisory Board to give us bi-weekly
feedback on currents that weíre playing.
5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?
Community-driven promotions that serve the needs of
people in tangible ways work best for us. They
communicate the heart of our ministry and they also
generate a lot of media attention, which is helpful
when trying to reach new listeners. Each year, we
collect more than 5,000 toys for needy kids in
Southwest Florida. I think that radio stations make
great concert promoters, too! We also try to be the
ďlarger-than-lifeĒ Christian station that does big
things like our 88.7 Second Shopping Spree, where a
listener can run through a local Christian bookstore
grabbing all they can in just less than 90 seconds.
Recently, we gave a contest winner the chance to open
for Toby Mac by singing the Natíl Anthem to start the
show. We held auditions ďAmerican IdolĒ-style at the
big mall in town and had thousands gathered to hear
our would-be singers. Television news cameras love
that stuff, and so do newspapers.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better
serve Christian radio?
Iím not the
PD so I donít interact much with labels, but I would
hope that record companies will grow in their
understanding of the fact that stations will stay on a
current until listeners grow tired of it being played
heavily. No label release calendar can supercede the
wants and likes of our listeners.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles
facing Christian radio today?
stations that see us as a growing competitor. They
are starting to go after OUR listeners instead of
vice-versa. If we donít find a way to connect with
real people, we will be largely ineffective in our
ministries and our listeners will find us to be
irrelevant and theyíll go somewhere else to find what
theyíre looking for.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality today?
transparent and real, and find non-preachy ways to
relate the Christian life to people who come from many
9. What (if any) other Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
Seattle remains one of the most successful Christian
stations in America. They have a laser focus and they
live and breathe relevance. Scott Valentine has done
a remarkable job there. I also have a lot of respect
for The Fish in Atlanta and Star 99.1 in New York. As
a morning show host, I must acknowledge Kent & Alan at
Star 101.5 in Seattle. Sure, theyíre mainstream, but
they have one of the most targeted, focused morning
shows Iíve ever heard. They are models for me.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
trying to find new ways to be relevant, especially
where technology is concerned.