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Radio Interview



Joe Norris

Music Director

WRBS / Baltimore


Joes' Career Capsule

After graduating from Liberty University in 1986 with a degree in Radio / TV Management, I moved from my hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio to Baltimore, Maryland to take a television production job.  In 1987, I started at WRBS with a part-time shift.  They hired me full-time in 1989.  I’m now music director, computer network administrator, fill-in frequently on-the-air, and produce a program called “Life Stories” (  For other goofy facts:


1. How did you wind up at WRBS? 

I was working in Baltimore with a Christian TV ministry in 1987.  After attending the Eastern National Religious Broadcasters Conference that year, I realized I still had my childhood dream of working in Christian radio.  So, I began working part-time with WRBS while still working full-time in television production.  In 1989, I left the TV ministry to become full-time at WRBS.

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

 When people let us know a song or program has ministered to them.  It reinforces the Apostle Paul’s words that “our labor is not in vain in the Lord”.


3.How has God used you in your role at WRBS?

I am constantly amazed how God works in spite of me.  As a “jack of all trades, master of none”, God has really blessed my efforts for His honor and glory.  During the one year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, we had many let us know the music that day had a profound impact on their lives.


4. You've been at WRBS for quite a while, how has the radio ministry changed?

The technology has significantly changed.  When I started in 1987, we had turntables and cart machines.  Today everything is digital and stored on computer hard drives.  (In fact, the studio where my picture above was taken has completely changed during the last couple of years.)
Just as amazing as the changes, has been what hasn’t changed.  Our mission statement has remained:

·        To honor and glorify God

·        To make Jesus Christ known

·        To strengthen and encourage Christians

·        To provide quality programming and services

·        To be effective stewards of what God has given us

5. What criteria is used when selecting songs for airplay on WRBS?

Lyrically, it must not contradict Scripture.

The artist’s performance and technical production quality must be excellent.

It must fit our format.

It must test well.

We also look at charts from the following sources: Radio and Records, Christian Radio Weekly, and the Cooperative Christian Radio Bulletin.

6. How did your passion for Christian radio develop?

As a kid, I read Paul Freed’s “Towers To Eternity” and Ben Armstrong’s “The Electric Church”.  I can still remember setting up a fake radio station in my room and recording programs.  Actually came across one of those cassettes recently – it gave me a good laugh, and yet I could still feel the passion.  I would also spend hours listening to WEEC-FM, Springfield, Ohio and WPAY-FM, Portsmouth, Ohio.


7. Why do you think Christian radio is labeled as being "behind" as compared to secular radio?

I have the privilege of working for a station where management is dedicated to removing that label.  Our technology, talent, information, research, sales, etc. are constantly improving.  (The station even helped me with my tuition when I returned to school to earn certification in computer network administration.)  We sound as good as, or better than, many of the stations in the Baltimore-Washington market.  I realize there is still a negative stereotype out there about Christian radio – especially for those who haven’t tuned in recently.  But if they were to punch up many Christian radio stations today, they would hear an excellent technical sound, outstanding talent, information they need, and programming that meets today’s contemporary society.


8. What in your opinion is the primary role of the Christian radio air personailty today?

Today’s Christian radio air personality is no longer just a “time and temperature” person.  He / she must connect with the core listener – be real.  But that doesn’t require a lot more verbiage - the listener can pick up quickly whether an air personality is really concerned and educated about a topic – or if they are merely “acting”.  So often, communicating just a word or two about a topic or song can inform and encourage a listener.

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

 Attending the Gospel Music Association Conference this year in Nashville, I had the honor of speaking with Jon Hull of KSBJ (while waiting for an elevator) and Mike Bingham of the Moody Broadcasting Network.  These guys know the recipe for excellence in radio and are making an impact.  I’m very impressed with so many non-commercial Christian stations today.  Years ago, non-commercial meant poor quality. That has changed.  Just south of us, non-commercial WGTS-FM in Washington, DC is a terrific example of great programming.


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

I see Christian radio only improving and impacting more and more lives.  People are hungry these days for something real.  The message they get from songs and programs on Christian radio provides real answers to today’s uncertain world events. We’re finding that many who used to listen to secular radio are now tuning us in. As we continue to focus on meeting the needs of that core listener, our ratings will only continue to go up.


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