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Radio Interview


Kevin Hilley

Program Director


Columbia/Jefferson City



Kevin's Career Capsule
I got the radio bug while growing up listening to the great Philadelphia “Boss Jocks” of the 60’s and 70’s and knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. While attending Houghton College, I discovered the campus radio station and never looked back. Landed my first gig in 1980 doing overnights on an AM station in Ogdensburg, NY…We dropped to 250 watts at night, which meant I was pretty much broadcasting to the guy across the street! I worked Christian radio for a while in the mid-80’s in Philadelphia with WZZD. I took a couple of years off from the business (WHY???) before getting married in 1989. Started working my way back into radio (too many stations to list!) and enjoyed my first real taste of success in Harrisburg, PA from 1994-96 as a part of the Morning  Show on WWKL (Kool 94.9) with the man I consider my mentor in this business, RJ Harris. Got the opportunity to do my own CHR Morning show in 1996 in Concord, NH (WJYY) and owned the market for 4 years. From there I did mornings in Albany, NY, Central NJ and on to Columbia, MO for 3 years with KPLA, again enjoying tremendous success as “Hilley & Hunter in the Morning”. After the station sold to Cumulus, things changed and I left. In March of this year (2006), I joined KMFC, Joy 92 FM as PD and Morning guy. I’m now having a blast again as a part of “SonRise with Karen and Kevin”!



1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”? 

It’s easy to lose track of Who we do this for. I’m surrounded by people who have been in Christian radio longer than me, so that’s kind of a safeguard against cynicism. Plus, hearing from listeners who were touched by a song or something we said is a great reality check.


2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?

There’s definitely more attention being paid from outside the Christian field. With Christian music sales being what they are, it was inevitable that some entertainment industry attention would turn to the radio side of things. Also, before I arrived here, it had been 20 years since I had been in Christian radio. I’m astounded at the quality of the musical product. The professionalism and production quality equals (and in come cases exceeds) anything in Mainstream. 


3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio PD?     

We still face some of the same issues and day-to-day concerns that we (those of us who have arrived from a Mainstream radio background) did before. Air talent stuff, labels, promotions, etc. In that sense we’re the same. Hopefully we’re approaching it with a different perspective and priority. Many of us are also working with less resources (money, equipment) than our “secular” counterparts. 


4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?

Above all, is it a good song? It might contain the greatest message in the world (and isn’t MOST of the music we play in that category?), but if it isn’t enjoyable to listen to, it shouldn’t be on the air. I don’t want to be a slave to the charts or trades, as valuable as those tools are. But when a song hits me, my first reaction is usually, “That would sound great on the air”. When we were in Nashville for GMA Week this year, we saw Ayeisha Woods perform “Happy”. I had never heard of her in my life, but my wife turned to me and said, “You should be playing that”. I totally agreed, not knowing if it would ever see the light of day at any other station in the country. We’ve been playing that song since April and it’s just hit the charts recently. Too many stations want to sound like everybody else. Take a chance and play a local artist or two…or three! We do and I think it gives KMFC a very distinctive sound.


5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?

Those that recognize the usually smaller share we have in a market and don’t try to outspend the big boys. Music and family related contests, promotions, concerts, etc are great. Promotions should also reflect your station-ality.  


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

Realize that at any given time I have 3 or 4 unopened envelopes on my desk. Use MPE or other digital delivery as much as possible. Also, initiate the conversation sometimes. A call to the PD asking, “Would you be interested in interviewing (artist) next week” would be welcome from time to time.  


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

There are some growing pains going on. Misconceptions from outside the industry can hurt us too. There were a couple friends of mine in Mainstream radio who expressed surprise to see me go into “religious” radio. They wanted to know if my new employer was going to expect me “to testify”. A lot of people think Christian radio is just preachers asking for money and guys who can’t make it in “regular” radio.    


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

To both entertain AND minister. We shouldn’t be afraid to one moment share something out of the Word and the next make a joke about American Idol. Good radio is good radio – and personally, I’d rather listen to a good “secular” talk show than a bad “Christian” one. So often, we settle for just “ok” because something has the “Christian” label on it. That’s an insult to Jesus.


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

I must admit that I don’t hear many other Christian stations long enough to make that kind of judgment. 


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

I strongly suspect that the major players (ClearChannel, Cumulus, etc) are going to start dipping into the format. From someone who saw the devastation that Corporate radio brings, that saddens me. Yes, we’ll probably see lots of promotional money and such, but I pray we don’t see the day when every Christian station sounds just like every other one.


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