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Radio Interview



Bill Carl

PD / PM Drive

WBVM / Tampa


Bills' Career Capsule
I first cracked a mic at WCIE, Lakeland, FL in 92 working on their Saturday Nite Alternative show...from there I moved to overnights and after a brief evening stint at WDYL in Richmond, I returned to WCIE in late 94 as co-host of the "Morning Good Guys" and MD.  The station was sold in 96 to satisfy church debts and from there I worked briefly in commercial radio at WQYK-Tampa (country), moved to WBVM as MD/Evenings from 97-99.  Took a break and produced "Cafe Video" on Pax TV for 3 years.  Recently returned to WBVM as PD/Afternoon Drive August 02.
1. How did you know without a doubt God would use you in Christian radio?

I had absolutely no idea, honestly.  I always loved radio and grew up on Gary Owens and Wink Martindale as a young kid and "John Boy & Billy" throughout my teens. While in college, I stood outside the doors of WCIE in Lakeland and told God that I thought I could do it and if he would open the doors, I would serve Him there.  I forgot about that prayer for 3 years and didn't understand it had been answered until Rick Thomas offered me a full time gig my during my last semester.  I'm still completely surprised and genuinely humbled when people share how they've been affected through the ministry that God has blessed me with. 

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

Radio in general offers an immediate outlet for "the creative moment."  Though I think and plan much more than I did as a rookie, I'm taken by notion of the intimate immediacy of radio.  Christian radio offers that with the enhancement of spiritual spontaniety, the ability to speak directly to the heart of an issue and to offer the listener more than "well, sorry about that...stinks to be you, I guess."

3.How has your role as PD changed over the last few years?

I have to confess until coming on at Spirit, I've been the armchair PD.  So while I can't speak to that question specifically, I would say the biggest personal difference between this position and past roles has been the added responsibility to work with my team and to ascertain how best to take advantage of their native abilites, strengthen weaknesses, and see them succeed while growing the ministry as a whole.  On a more practical level, technical advances have affected every position in radio dramatically. Multiple tasks can be completed quickly.  Consequently, more output is expected than ever before and more hats are being worn by one person.  Keeping up with it all is a huge struggle.  (Anyone see my music index cards anywhere?)   

4. How does someone balance their life in the demanding field of radio?

Anyone have a clue I could borrow? By nature, I am not a disciplined person but I'm finding more stability in planned action and routine than in reactionary living. Let's face it, with small staffs and the opportunistic nature of radio, routine is tough to stick to but absolutely crucial when balancing our personal walk with Christ, relationships with spouses and friends, ministry, and outside interests.  My time is more limited than ever before so I'm striving to prioritize carefully.  On the lightside, MAKE TIME TO HAVE FUN with non-radio related hobbies.  I fish frequently and my latest passion has been paintball. Form friendships that don't revolve around your job and find friends that don't care how great you sounded on your show last week; people with whom you can let down and truly fellowship with. An early pitfall for me was tying up my identity with my position.  Identify yourself as a child of God, fully acceptable, forgiven and loved. Nothing else will make it through the gates.     

5. You've recently signed Sean Caldwell on to be your station important is imaging to Christian radio?

Imaging is everything...that's why we hired Sean.  Spirit FM is a station in transition, striving to break through the "its good enough for church work" mentality.  I'm tightening up the music, getting rid of program blocks, but the imaging is the signature of the station. In the Tampa market, over 50 stations vie for ratings with 6 programming some type of Christian format. We have to cut through and sound successful.  Strong imaging goes a long way in the battle to stand apart.  I've always been impressed with WAY-FM's imaging in Christian broadcasting and what Clearchannel does in this market is unsurpassed. Back to Sean and the work we're doing here. The other day, a longtime listener commented, "Wow, you guys sound legitimate."  That says it all.       

6. When searching for new CCM radio on air talent what do you look for?

 I'm a big proponent of personality.  There are many solid voices in CCM radio these days but it seems like I hear mucho liner card jocking (in my opinion).  I want polish and discipline but more than anything I want a person who can participate in the "great conversation"...someone who takes a prepsheet and turns into more than a laundry list of Christian artist gossip. My current hero is Glenn Beck, a former FM morning show guy.  Glenn is syndicated on premiere and puts on a show that is well-informed, compelling and hilarious to no end. I don't mind if talent doesn't have Jon Rivers pipes if they're quick on the draw and creative.  They should have a grip on mainstream culture and be able address it from a Christian worldview that isn't mutually exclusive.  With a young talent, I want to push the idea of word economy but not quash the creative moment or turn them vanilla.   

7. What type of on-air promotions work best for your station in the Tampa market?

 I don't know that a certain promotion works better in Tampa than say, Seattle.  Our objectives are to reward and involve the listener, to sound interactive, and to increase time spent listening. We tailor our promotions to include as many listeners as possible.  Rather than fly 4 listeners to the VEGGIE tales premiere in Nashville, we rented a movie theater and had a private screening the day it opened for 350 people.  For the WOW 2003 CD Brick, we've started a
"listen to win" artist of the day registration contest with multiple registrations rather than ask trivia questions.  Rather than include 30 registrants, we've included a couple hundred people in a manner that demands more TSL. Our listeners feel like they actually have a chance.       

8. What advice do you have for someone wanting to be a Christian radio personality? how to get started, where to learn, etc

 Pray, show up...and keep coming back. Everyone's path is different.  College is an avenue but most of the guys I know went to a local station and banged on the door until someone opened it. Once you get a chance it's all about persistence and passion.  Persist in developing your talent even when no one seems to care...many times they don't but God does and he sees. Take jobs that stink and acquire a taste for Ramen noodles and Cheese food product.  Be passionate about the craft and listen to everything on the air that reeks of success.  So much of what I believe about radio and programming, comes from listening and watching successful people.      

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

I think WAY-FM has always been an innovator and continues to be so...particularly as it relates to music philosophy and personality. I don't know Doug Hannah personally, but I've been impacted by his articles.  Salem has found a way to make Christian radio rise to the top by employing common sense in programming.  Though I personally fear the homogenization of the medium, I can't deny the results.  

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

  "...with two turntables and microphone" (just kidding)  I see the obvious: Christian radio becoming a commercial success and an acceptable programming option to more mainstream conglomerates.  The question becomes, "What will Christian radio mean in 5 years?"   In many ways, we have become an institution intent on self preservation for our own sake.  If Christian radio in 5 years means that less stations exist but more people are being reached, then we're going to have to make peace with that.  If it means less intent ministry and just another lifestyle choice, I'm not sure we can make peace with that. 



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