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Radio Interview



Mike Kankelfritz


Morning Show Host







To contact Mike click here







Mike's Career Capsule
I got my start in radio at a high school in Seattle, WA. KNHC FM, a 30,000-watt student-run radio station that actually got ratings, beating some of the commercial stations in town. After high school, I knew I wanted a college degree, plus I thought it would be fun to get away. Arkansas was pretty far from Seattle, so I moved to Siloam Springs to attend John Brown University. From Seattle to Arkansas, now that’s cultural whiplash! By the way, after college, I left Arkansas while managing to keep all my teeth and not marrying my sister.  Along the way, I have been a PD, MD, Production Director, Imaging Director, News Director, Station Manager, and Director of Tomfoolery, at 15 radio stations. In addition to the morning show at KSBJ, I also have a voice-over business, and I do some talent coaching.


1. How does a Christian radio morning show set itself apart from mainstream competitors?

I think you can take “set apart” as a biblical term. Depending on the radio station’s mission and vision, set apart can mean you play the hits and are simply positive and safe for the family or, like KSBJ you might also talk about God. Don’t get me wrong, we have a fun, funny morning show, however, when we feel led, we do talk about God stuff, but in a seeker sensitive non-religious way. However, the best God discussions come from the listener. Amazing phone calls about changed lives that give you big time goose bumps!


2. How has your morning show evolved or changed over the last few years?

The show’s evolution has mainly come from focus groups. I encourage every station to use focus groups. No budget? No problem. I have learned that core listeners enjoy hearing relatable information about you! If I were to poll your listeners what would they say about you, about who you are? Our listeners say that I have a goofy last name, I have a daughter diagnosed with special needs, I love my family, and I am funny. Show prep services are a good tool, but personal experiences are gold! I have come to learn the value of this. Susan O’Donnell, my morning partner, already knew and had been practicing this concept long before I came on board almost 5 years ago.


3. What morning show topics seem to be hot right now?

Given the current economic climate, anything that is positive is hot. People are looking for something besides the prevalent doom and gloom. Also, the more common and universal a topic, the bigger the response. If you get listeners without prompting to say, “who hasn't been there before”, or “I know exactly what you are talking about”, then you are connecting! For example, Susan and I play up topics that happen between my wife, Becky, and I. Relationship stuff is huge; man vs. woman, kids and parents etc. We call up my wife and put her on the air, I think she is funnier than I am!


4. What is the advantage of being live and local such as your show is?

Live and local is the advantage! You can react to anything as it happens. Weather, major local headlines, things that effect Houstonians that someone in Toledo could care less about. KSBJ, by design, is very community-service oriented. Our listeners like to feel a part of something that is bettering the community. So to be able to take the show on the road, or at least talking about what is happening in her own neighborhood makes you more relevant to her lifestyle.


5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian morning shows?

Every promotion has to have a purpose, otherwise you are just giving something away. Universally with every promotion the goal should be at least one of two things: 1. To get someone to listen longer (time spent listening), or 2. to get more people to tune in (cume). Susan and I have tried to make every promotion/contest entertaining, fun, and compelling. I don’t think the entertainment value is so much in the contest itself, but in the interaction with the listener. You can just take Caller #7 and give her a prize or you can take that opportunity to put the listener's life on the radio. On our show, we take every opportunity to try to pry into the life of the caller and get more than just the contest. Anyone can give away tickets to the zoo or you can get to know the caller and find out that her 5-year-old loves giraffes and that, to me, is more compelling radio. The entertainment value is not in the contest it is getting to know the listener.


6. Do you use any show prep services… tell why or why not?

We do subscribe to two show prep services. But, the most important show prep service is your life, and what you experience every day. I call it Life-Prep. As alluded to earlier with the focus groups, what are your relatable experiences? For example, yesterday we took our son Sam for his first haircut. Yep, lots of tears. But then, the hairstylist whipped out a sucker. You would have thought she gave him crack! Wow, everything changed. What is it about sugar and kids? That’s material that she can relate to.

Now to the prep services. We use’s prep service and, within the past year, we have used Beth Becall’s She Prep. However, these services mostly help as thought-starters. We almost never take something and rip and read. In fact, Susan and I hardly ever read anything on the air. The goal is to tell the story! I usually use only bits and pieces of the actual story. You don’t want to get bogged down in the details when going through a bit.


7. What are the biggest obstacles facing Christian morning radio today?

I don't know if it's the biggest obstacle but one thing that most Christian air personalities struggle with is dealing the crusaders and developing thick enough skin to not be affected by their constant complaints. The first few weeks I was full time at a Christian station were awful! But, it seems like the first thing we do with Christians after they get saved is teach them how to sit around and judge others.


8. Do you think there will be more or less morning syndication in the future of Christian radio?

I think it depends on the level of available talent. Is the level of syndicated talent really that much better than what you could get with a local jock? Is it worth saving the money?


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

If you have not heard Craig and Heather at KXOJ, you need to stream them sometime! I think Craig is one of the most talented air talents for any format. Lisa Williams has an amazing ability to sound real, personable, like the girl next door. And, I have not seen too many people that can connect with women like my own partner, Susan O’Donnell. The ladies feel like she is their sister!


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

Hopefully we are improving and becoming more successful than the secular/general market counterpart. Isn’t that what God would want? Shouldn’t our best be better than what the world has to offer? I am not sure if we will get there in 5 years, but it seems as though we are making headway. Some stations are really kicking butt in the ratings. Spirit105.3 in Seattle, (I grew up in Seattle. It's not a Christian town!) is doing well. WRBS, in Baltimore, has made some changes and have increased their market share dramatically. Many other stations are excelling in ratings. But, I am especially proud of us Texans. KSBJ is pulling a 5.1 share for the month of July. And, hats off to Mike and Frank and the crew in Dallas! KLTY has almost one million in cume and they are third 6+ PPM for this past month!





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