Career Capsule: After graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in journalism, I entered a contest in my hometown to win a Pontiac Aztec. I had to live in the car for 10 days with complete strangers. It was a huge deal and we all became local celebrities. Besides gaining 10 pounds, I also gained a local following. After I got out of the car I landed my first job at the NBC affiliate as a part-time weather girl, part-time one-man-band reporter. (The job softened the blow of coming in second for the contest.)
I cut my teeth on the backroads of western Iowa, lugging around 50-pounds of gear while wearing heels. From there I spent a couple years at WINK-tv in Fort Myers, Florida and another few at WSPA-tv in Greenville, South Carolina. One of my assignments was to interview a local DJ who had lost a bunch of weight—little did I know that guy would end up being my boss and co-host on HIS Morning Crew! I’m glad Rob Dempsey took a chance on an outsider, because I’ve been at HIS Radio for nearly 5 years now!
Alison, tell us what’s new at His Radio… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
HIS Radio recently launched our Show After the Show, which is a Facebook-only program that’s getting great response! Personally, my family is still eagerly awaiting an adoption match from Burundi, a journey we’ve been on for nearly 3 years now. In the meantime, we just adopted a Border Terrier named Max.
I love change and growth so I’m always working on a side project (or 5!) that fulfills my constant need for a creative outlet. I continue to work as features editor for a local women’s magazine, something I’ve done for 12 years now. I am hosting a TV pilot for a concept show called ProDogTV. I’ve also been speaking at some conferences and events, and I recently gave my first TED Talk!
In areas of ministry, my husband and I lead Financial Peace University at our church to help people pay off debt and give more. Last year I also launched CrowdsourcingKids, where 50 kids join forces to sell 50 boxes of elephants handmade by rescued slaves in India. With their efforts combined they raise enough money to completely fund a well-drilling project in a village in India. We’re 10 months in and we’ve already raised nearly $25,000 selling elephants! Our next round of CrowdsourcingKids launches on World Water Day in March! (CrowdsourcingKids.com)
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
We stand out by our innovation and creativity. Our show is like TV for radio, with everything streamed live and uploaded across multiple formats and social networks including Apple TV, Roku and Alexa. My background in television makes me well-equipped for this type of integration.
I love that my wacky ideas are never turned down—they’re not always good—but we’re not afraid to try something different! The other day we had an artist hand-stamping necklaces live in the studio with people’s “word for 2019.” We’re also kicking off “Juicing with Jim” soon, to highlight my co-host’s new healthy habit while fighting cancer.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Something I heard at Momentum last year really stuck with me. I believe it was Alan Burns that said, “people want to feel God. They also want to feel good.” Since my personality is generally upbeat, silly and fun, I appreciate the freedom to let that shine. As Brant Hansen says, seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
Sure, why not? Recent exclusive cume data shows that HIS Radio shares very little of our audience with other stations in the market. Many people who listen to HIS Radio only listen to HIS Radio. Even though I am a competitive person by nature, I can’t say that I pay much attention to the competition. As Bob Goff says, we won’t be distracted by comparison if we are captivated with purpose. And as the wise Lecrae once tweeted, nobody ever changed the world by worrying about people’s opinions of them.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
The freedom to think creatively. And mascara. Remember- everything is on video in our studio!
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
I think as more stations take our integrated approach using video and social media in a major way, it may come from people who have more varied media backgrounds.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Probably that it stops feeling fresh and relevant. The lack of diversity shocks me at times. Just basing on who I see in the audience at the annual Momentum Conference, I don’t feel like women are well represented in leadership, which has never made a lot of sense to me considering our target market. It also seems that opportunities are often given to the same people over and over.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My heroes are storytellers—because that’s what I strive to be. Steve Hartman with CBS News has always been at the top of my list. Anybody that can make me laugh and cry in the same minute is someone I want to emulate. I also love Malcom Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History for the way he journalistically crafts stories. And I must say, I love how Dave Ramsey somehow packages the same content over and over so that I keep coming back no matter how many times I’ve heard it.