I got my start in radio back in
1985 as a volunteer at KOKF, Oklahoma City. In 1986 I was
hired on part-time and in 1987 I was upped to PD. I
maintained that position at KOKF until I left the beginning of
2000 to work at ForeFront Records as their Director of
Promotions. ForeFront did some restructuring back in the
Spring of this year, and I was one of the employees let go
during that time of transition. Iím currently programming
WCFL in Chicago and helping promote a new national CHR
countdown show called The Weekend 22.
1. How did you become the PD/Consultant at WCFL?
Shortly after I left ForeFront I found myself engaged in
serious conversations with several different radio stations
about handling PD duties. As my wife and I prayed about
which direction to go, we felt like at least for now, our
family needed to stay here in Franklin,TN. So I informed
everyone that the only way I could be of service was if I did
it from my office at home. Station Manager, Steve Young, took
me up on that offer, and I came on board in July.
In working with the team at WCFL, for all intents and purposes
I am the PD, responsible for programming all the music,
working with the on-air staff, taking tracking calls, etc.
Itís much more ďhands onĒ than most typical consulting
partnerships. The long-distance relationship has had itís set
of challenges but itís also been very rewarding to work with a
great group of people and give Steve the time heís needed to
focus on other important things around the station. We
structured it in such a way that it gave Steve some
flexibility with his budget and staffing needs, and allowed
me the opportunity to work with other stations if Iíd like and
do things like promote The Weekend 22. Ideally most stations
will want someone in-house for the long haul, so I really see
my relationship with WCFL as a transitional one, laying the
groundwork for the right person to come in and take over that
role on a full-time basis.
2. How important is it for a Christian radio stations to
have a consultant? please elaborate.
The vast majority of Christian radio stations donít use a
consultant because they can barely make ends meet and take
care of basic staffing needs, let alone hire someone from the
outside. Or, if theyíre in a position to bring on a
consultant, they may feel like thereís no need because theyíre
doing well enough on their own. Tapping into an outside
resource that really understands the unique DNA of your
station and helps you define your goals and stay focused on
reaching them, can really move your team forward. Also,
having an objective person that you can bounce things off of
and get a fresh perspective can really benefit the station as
well. Some will they say they canít afford to have a
consultant, while others will tell you they canít afford not
to work with one. I know itís been said before, but even the
best athletes in the world have coaches that help keep them on
track. In mainstream radio, consultants are a mainstay in the
industry and thatĎs why many of them perform so well.
Hopefully, Christian radio will be able to go more that
direction in the future.
3. Why in your opinion is the Chicago market able to
support so many CCM stations?
The fact that Chicago is the 3rd largest market in the country
makes it possible. I donít think youíd see five FM outlets in
a market much smaller than that, and all of them make it.
From what I can tell, all of the Christian radio stations in
Chicago have a very viable audience large enough to keep them
all on the air. No one in Chicago should complain about not
having a choice when it comes to Christian radio!
4. Do you think a full-time CCM station could be
successful in New York City?
Good question. Iím not sure. I would like to think so, but
when you factor in the exorbitant cost of operation and
evaluate it from a cultural/lifestyle point of view, it seems
like it has really been a challenge for anyone wanting to
start up a full-time Christian music station in that part of
the country. Thatís one reason why most concert tours donít
venture out that far because of the lack of Christian radio
throughout much of the east coast. I was born in Brooklyn and
no doubt about itÖ. New York City could certainly use a
full-time CCM station making an impact within the community.
5. How can Christian record labels better serve
Overall, I think the record labels are doing a good job.
Having worked at a label myself, Iíve seen firsthand what
goes on behind the scenes and how hard people work to provide
radio with the tools they need to succeed. The reality is
that with so many stations to keep in contact with, things are
bound to slip between the cracks. I think what it really
boils down to is mutual respect for what both sides bring to
the table and looking for ways to make it a ďwin-winĒ for all
6. When searching for new CCM radio on air talent what
do you look for?
Someone who is pursuing an on-going relationship with Christ,
passionate about doing great radio, has the internal
motivation to be the best they can be, the willingness to
learn, can multi-task, is a team player, and sincerely cares
about people. They also need to understand the make-up of
their listening audience and know how to effectively
communicate with them in a relevant and genuine manner.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing
Christian radio today?
Limited resources and staff to effectively compete with other
stations in the market. In most small to medium markets, and
even in a good number of large markets, youíll find stations
under-staffed and over-worked. One or two people around the
office are wearing a bunch of hats and no one has time to
focus and do anything well. Most stations donít have the
budget to market and promote themselves well or do any type
of research to identify what their strengths and weaknesses
are. In those situations I would still challenge stations to
dream big and not let their perceived limitations hold them
back from being creative and doing great radio!
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality today?
That depends on the personal vision of air personality and
corporate direction of the station. For some it means
encouraging believers in their walk with Christ or sharing
their faith with those who donít have a relationship with Him.
For others it may mean simply focusing on being as
professional as possible and entertaining their listeners. I
believe if itís done right, you can do all of the above.
Ultimately a great air personality will really connect with
their audience and compliment everything else the station has
9. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
I really believe that Christian radio will continue to grow
due to the spirit of God drawing people to Him as well as the
bar continually being raised on quality programming and
professionalism within the industry. Of course our record
label partners and all the artists, writers, and musicians
involved play a pivotal role in this as well. I think with
the way technology keeps moving forward we also need to keep
an eye out on satellite radio and the internet. With
terrestrial Christian radio not readily available in every
market and still considered by many to be a niche format,
there is opportunity for others out there to capitalize on
that. But if youíre confident in what youíre doing and are
being a good steward of the resources entrusted in your care,
almost anything is possible.