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Radio Interview


Mike Schlote

Program Director


Des Moines



Mike's Career Capsule
Started in jazz radio in 1992 in Cedar Rapids, IA at KCCK.  Did overnights, then afternoons, then mornings at 101QFL-Rockford, IL from 1993 to 2003.  Did mornings at WMCU-Miami from 2004-2005.  Currently, I host "Mike at the Mic in the Morning" and do PD, MD roles at KZZQ-Des Moines.


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

That's a good question.  Because our business IS a ministry, it causes me to think through how I word my answer.  I believe it is possible to do too much 'ministry' on the air, thereby compromising your business.  A good business does one thing very, very well.  As wonderful as it would be to be effective at everything we do on the air, I don't believe it is realistic to think that serving all aspects of ministry ON THE AIR is an effective use of radio.  It is critical that each station remembers their specific calling/mission and does just that.  Serving Jesus by trying to be the best in the business is more effective than trying to be the best at ministry on the air.  Please read that last sentence again so you can hear my heart on this.  (of course you can assume I am referring to using Biblical principles in business)

Oftentimes on the way to work, my prayer will be for God to check my heart and then provide me with the tools needed to be effective at accomplishing the mission He has laid out for our station to do.  I pray that He allows me to connect with existing Jesus-lovers and yet be completely relevant to someone searching for truth and God in their own way.  I want to be the 'Jesus' that Jesus wants THAT listener to see.  I want to show people what it is like to have a relationship and not a religion.


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

Let's see...that was two radio stations ago for me...  Well, it has increasingly become more digital.  The delivery of music is 90% online now.  Of course we have the ever-convenient portable music device to contend with more, too.  Although, I must say that I think people still enjoy listening to live radio...knowing that they are experiencing something that thousands of others are experiencing at the same time.  THAT is something those little 'pocket players' can't do. 


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

More than ever, I am passionate about stations accomplishing the mission of their station.  I believe the PD's job is to focus the programming to accomplish that mission.  That means song selection, show content, imaging...everything on air.  The package of your station as presented to the public MUST reflect the mission of the station.  As good as songs and DJs may be, the station's pursuit of its God-given vision has to take top priority.


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

I gotta be honest with you and tell you that the sound of the song is the first thing that either gets me or doesn't.  I think it is a HUGE thing in the decision process.  It must, must, must sound good and be the type of song that listeners will want to hear again.  There is nothing less relevant than calling yourself a hit station and then playing music that is nowhere close to the sound of today's mainstream hits.

Lyrics are also a major factor for us.  Since our mission is one to bridge that gap for the non-Christian, we do not want to use 'churchy' language on the air.  There is nothing wrong with Christian lingo for stations whose quest is to edify the saints, but it sure can sound out of touch to the non-believer.  We also don't shy away from "relationship" songs.  Primarily, because people have relationships!  You can't get much more relevant than that!  It is ok for us to play songs that sing about life and its triumphs and stuggles.  We play ALL of these songs in an attempt to raise questions in people's minds about life and God...and ultimately, Jesus.


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

It depends on the format of the station.  I don't know that there is a BEST type of promotion.  The common factor in pulling off a good promotion is being able to engage your audience and get people talking.  We are currently doing a promotion that costs us NOTHING (except a little gas).  "Signs of Summer" is our way of having billboards without paying for billboards.  Listeners get together and create signs with Q99.5 and on them and display them in their yards for the summer.  We stop by, take pictures and give stuff away...and the winning sign gets a live show from their location at the end of the contest...with even more prizes.  Creating emotional (and in this case, physical) equity in your listener is always a good thing.


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

I really don't know.  I have always had great relationships with record companies and I am so thankful for that.  I have enjoyed the partnerships we've had with them over the years.  I love the availability of music through downloads and the increased number of artist visits to the station.  I can't say that anything is lacking, really.  We just need to keep growing together and sharpen each other's side of this industry.


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

Aside from soon being accused of hate crimes for having a biblical world view, I would have to say the biggest obstacle can be ourselves.

It is:

  • not understanding how God can and does reach people.
  • a misguided view of doing ministry on radio.
  • not focusing on the vision that God gave for the station.

All of these things will suck the efficiency and effectiveness right out of a Christian radio station.


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

To be the most effective communicator possible and achieve the goals set forth by the PD.  Once again, those goals reflect the particular mission of the station.


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

KZZQ, of course.  Actually, I would have to really look at what individual stations are doing that is fresh, different and effective.  I'm not sure that I can pinpoint particular stations that are really setting the pace.  I'm sure there are several...!


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

Unfortunately, I see Christian radio more stifled by law and regulations that eliminate a "non-tolerant" point of view.  We will have to do our very best to speak the truth with relevance and boldness and ask for the protection of God on our stations. 

Aside from that dark thought...Christian radio of all formats will be more finely tuned to their unique purposes and better equipped at implementing their strategies to reach their goals.  Those who are in radio are usually in it for the long haul.  Let's work together to set the pace for radio...not just Christian radio.



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