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Radio Interview


Rick Robertson

Program Director

American Family Radio

Tupelo, MS



Rick's Career Capsule
I’ve been in radio for longer than my ego will let me admit. I was working in various formats in secular radio before coming to American Family Radio. I have been privileged to work here at AFR for almost fifteen years now. Time flies! Before becoming Program Director last year, I served as Production Director, as well as working on-air. 


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

I’ve found that the best way for me to keep the ministry in the “business” is by pausing to evaluate why I do what I do. Am I doing what I do for the sake of Christ or am I just trying to get a set of tasks completed? Or am I trying to impress someone? This quote, from the 17th century pastor Samuel Rutherford, helps me get back on track at times. He said, “Let Him (Jesus Christ) have the flower of your heart and your love. Set a low price upon all things but Christ.” 


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

There seems to be so many more Christian stations on the dial, not to mention what’s happening on the Internet. What a fun time to be in radio!


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

I’m still answering that question in my own mind. Some days he’s someone who steps back and lets the air talent do what God has called them to do. On other days, he’s face-to-face with them helping them become better at what they do. Because radio is changing so much, he’s got to be a visionary. He’s got to be willing to stop and look at where the industry is going and make sure his station doesn’t get left behind. That’s a challenge for me because I tend to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks.


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

We look for songs with a positive message based on quality, Christ-centered lyrics. Jim Stanley is our Music Director and he does a great job at making that happen.  


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

Since we are a network with stations scattered across the United States, local promotions are generally out of the question. One thing that works great for us is giving away a trip. It gives all of our listeners, whether they are in Washington or North Carolina, a chance to hop on board a plane and fly to an event. We recently partnered with Family Life to give away a trip to their Weekend to Remember marriage conference in Hawaii. That worked well for us.


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

It’s been encouraging to see the willingness of the labels to work with us on various projects. When we have a need, they seem to try their best to say, “yes”. And the quality of the people who service us are wonderful. They are terrific people to get to know.   


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

One of the greatest and most exciting challenges is adjusting to the fast-changing world of technology. I think we need to be willing to take advantage of the new opportunities or risk getting left behind. One small example is blogging. It’s fun to see how the on-air staff uses their blogs to connect with their listeners. It’s a good example of how new technology can deepen the relationship we have with our listeners.


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

Simply said, I think his or her role is to be a friend to their listeners. We had a guy named Joseph Parker who worked overnight for us years ago. I remember a listener saying, “I love listening to Joseph. He cares about me. I know he does.” I thought that was such a great example of an air talent developing a friendship with a listener. I’m sure many other listeners felt the same way about him.


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

I don’t know about innovators. I do know it’s wonderful to see WAY-FM and K-Love setting such a high standard for Christian radio. 


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

I think Christian radio will be a player on a team that includes several forms of new technology. It’s fun to watch my 20-year-old son Zak. He’s getting his “inspiration” and “information” not only from radio, but from several other places. He’s embracing all the newest technology. I think he’s teaching me where we’ll all be in a few years.



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