Career Capsule: Began radio career in 1970 in Seattle at 96.5FM, (now Jack FM) working on-air 8 hours a day for minimum wage. Hey, I’m on the radio! 🙂 Moved back to my hometown and went on the local country station 1230 KSPO, then on to 97KREM which was Top 40 and way more fun. From there I went to KYNO in Fresno for 30 days before being hired at K-100 in Los Angeles in 1974 to do the midday show between Robert W. Morgan in mornings and Eric Chase in afternoons. From there, on to 62KGW in Portland, back to 97KREM as Program Director, back to L.A. to do middays at 93KHJ and finally to San Francisco doing middays at 610KFRC. I also worked as a programming consultant and did fill-in air work for various industry friends, including at Q-101 in Chicago, K103 in Portland, etc.
In my Christian radio years I did the morning and afternoon shows on both K-LOVE and Air-One, was National Program Director for both K-LOVE and Air-One, and also spent time as GM for each. I am the Founder of the Educational Media Foundation.
Bob, tell us what you’re up to these days, what’s new with you, recent changes etc…?
I own and operate 107.1FM here in my hometown of Spokane Washington. We play old rock and roll music from the first 30 years of rock and call it KOOL oldies. I’m on the air from 2-6pm and actually hoping to retire from day-to-day operational duties sometime in the next year or two. On the ministry side, this fall I’m launching something I’ve been working on for the past couple of years… Bible question man dot-com.
Did the idea of KLOVE evolve in your mind after a period of time, or was it more in a moment?
I guess I’d have to say it was more in a moment. At the time I was working for 610 KFRC in San Francisco. My air shift was from 9 to noon immediately following the Doctor Don Rose morning show. Life was good. I was sitting in my home office in Sausalito California and I happened to have a blank yellow pad in front of me when the thought came: what would a Christian KFRC sound like? So I wrote “Christian KFRC?” on that yellow pad. I wrote a number of other things down and before long I had a basic outline of a Christian radio ministry, even down to the slogan “the positive alternative”. One of the things I also wrote on that pad was “No Christian-ese!”. I didn’t define it on the yellow pad but I knew what it meant. This was all very shortly after I had surrendered 100% to God so it would have been in the fall of 1978.
Tell the story about your bid to buy KCLB-FM in Santa Rosa, CA (the first KLOVE station) on a Friday, without having any money in your bank account, and the miracle of raising the money over the weekend to pay for it the following week?
Here’s what I remember about buying KCLB in Santa Rosa California. This was now 1981 and we had been working on this Christian music radio project for almost 3 years as Christian Media Ministries. We had our three original board members which included Dave Laube, David Gilmour and myself.
The Christian Life Center in Santa Rosa had gone bankrupt and the assets were being sold by the trustee. One of the assets was their radio station with the call letters KCLB, which stood for Christian Life Broadcasting. We were the successful bidder in the process at roughly $60,000 and we had to quickly come up with the full amount. So David Gilmour got right to work and was successful in raising about half of the amount, but we were still short roughly $35,000. The rest of the money came in one lump sum from a single donor named John Markstein who was a beer distributor in the Bay Area. We, of course, thought that was very ironic. Unfortunately the losing bidder also owned the tower site and he immediately kicked us off the tower. Which is why it took us until October 15th of 1982 to actually get on the air. But that actually proved a blessing because it allowed us to use the time to publicize this new upcoming Christian music radio station, build a large volunteer team and get all the other ingredients in place to go on the air successfully.
Who or what was your inspiration in those early days?
There were two inspirations in those early days. The first one was probably the incredible level of professionalism, programming quality and success of KFRC. Everything about the radio station was world class from top to bottom . The program director, Les Garland, was a friend of mine who I’d worked with at several other stations previously. KFRC won Billboard Magazine’s Station of the Year Award an amazing 5 years in a row!
On the spiritual side there were many inspirations but one in particular was Dr. Charles Feinberg. He came to speak at our church and I really had no idea who he was. But I was impressed by the things he said and his commitment to reading Scripture. He actually read the Bible all the way through from Genesis to Revelation four times a year! I found that almost unbelievable. So I invited him to come over to our house after church and just talk for a while. To my surprise he said yes. We talked for about an hour about the word of God, how important it was and he confirmed that, yes, he has a regular Bible reading routine and he goes through the entire Bible once a quarter. I found out much later that he was this amazing man who had done all these things in his life, but I had no idea at the time. Not long after that meeting, God impressed upon me that I should spend way less time reading Bible commentaries and listening to Bible teachers and way more time simply reading the Bible. So I did exactly that. And let’s just say after having read through the Bible about 40 times cover to cover …it has changed my theology a bit! 🙂
What people in your opinion were most instrumental in executing the launch of KLOVE?
Our first CMM board had two guys that were a perfect fit for what we were attempting to do. Dave Laube was a world class financial CEO and David Gilmour was coming from his fundraising work with Youth for Christ. Those two Davids were joined by another David, David Daubenspeck, not long after we got on the air. Gilmour has since passed away; Laube is retired and living in Golden CO. More on Daubenspeck below.
Another vital person early on was Nyoka Brooks, an early volunteer who took on the job of Promotions, Marketing and Events. She was amazing and was also a great voice talent! Early EMF board member Dr. Tom McCarthy was also a great addition.
Were you ever discouraged, were there times when God worked miraculously to confirm your commitment to the new format?
Was I ever discouraged? Of course I was! Having very little money in the bank with the bills piling up and the rent due. We’re having one of our early pledge drives, Dr. Tom was on the air with me giving an impassioned plea for support of this new little station, then we closed the mics and started the next song… and watched the phone just sit there silently as the minutes ticked by… that happened often in those days and was certainly discouraging! But we prayed and believed it would all work out somehow. It did.
There was another time when our $1,000 rent payment was due again by 5pm. We were not in a Pledge drive at that time, and it was getting late in the afternoon. Into the office walks a guy who plops $1,000 down on the desk. Says he was driving and heard God say that he should go to the Christian station and give them a thousand dollars. So there he was. Needless to say, things like that tend to increase your faith about the work God gave you to do.
Is it true that you gave Dick Jenkins the secret K-LOVE format for success clearly outlined on a single yellow notepad when you hired him to replace you at KCLB?
Ahhhh, the Yellow Pad! Actually, there were two of those. The 1st outlined the radio ministry objectives of Christian Music Radio… a “Christian KFRC” with the 5 E’s of evangelism, education, exhortation, edification and encouragement. Dick Jenkins and I worked side by side for 6 months before he officially took over as GM and head of EMF, and we had plenty of time to go over all the program format details, so he really didn’t need that 1st sheet.
But Dick did get the 2nd yellow pad that outlined the Sig-Ex Plan to expand the reach of our signal using translators and stations to create a network. His management and networking talents were (and are!) tremendous assets. Dick was great at convincing top level people that they should join us. People like Joe Miller, who remains Director of Signal Development for EMF. Joe was an All-Star and I can’t imagine EMF growing to where it is today without Joe.
What were some of the setbacks you experienced? (Is it true you sold your car, furniture, and many of your personal possessions to keep the station going in the early days?)
Yes, all of that is true. We owned a nice house with a pool in Marin County, a couple of really cool cars and lots of nice furniture. Add to that the fact that my wife Pati was 7 months pregnant at the time with our first child when I gave my resignation notice at KFRC. We then moved to Santa Rosa and rented a smaller home. We ended up driving a Toyota Celica that had been donated to the ministry. Obviously both Pati and I believed in what we were doing and our plan was to do whatever was necessary to take the next steps and that God would provide for us personally. Things were very difficult but no one ever missed a meal.
What feedback did you receive from the Christian Radio industry at the time you started KLOVE?
It was nothing but positive feedback right from the start. Two people in particular who stood out at the time were Dan Hickling at Word records and Buddy Holiday in Houston Texas. I remember telling Dan what our plans were for this new radio station and that I was not that familiar with contemporary Christian music. Could he help me out? Dan came through and sent all the current catalog as well as contact information for the other record companies.
I kept in regular communication with Buddy since he was also planning to start a new station there in Houston, KSBJ. We encouraged each other and Buddy gave me the name and phone number for Ashton Hardy, the FCC attorney his ministry was using. Ashton was just what we needed to navigate all the legal details of setting up the new entity. He’s also the one who suggested the name Educational Media Foundation. I thought it sounded bland and boring, but Ashton said that was actually a good thing. Haha! So blame him.
It is said that one of your iron-clad format directives was “No Christianese speak on the air, how did/do you define that?
I was coming out of the world of secular radio. Nobody on the air at any of the top 40 stations talked like they were pastors in a church. I wanted the people on the air at our new little radio station to talk the way people talk out on the street, or at the mall or in the pubs. Not like a TV preacher creature. The jocks were encouraged to talk about God, the Bible and spiritual principles… but speak in ordinary everyday language. No churchy lingo.
The story of K-LOVE would not be complete without the contribution of David Daubenspeck. Most of our readers have never heard of his name. What did David bring to the early days of K-LOVE?
Daubenspeck… The David III
David Daubenspeck was a pastor at a local church over in the East Bay of San Francisco and a friend of David Gilmour, one of our founding board members. I had met Daubenspeck probably about two years before KCLB signed on. I knew that he had experience in radio and he was a solid Christian. After we put the station on the air and we were up and operating I knew we needed some solid day-to-day operational help, especially with management of this growing volunteer team, as well as the also growing Ministry opportunities for the radio station. The problem was we couldn’t afford to pay David a salary. So David volunteered to raise his own financial support which he did. He was so gifted and so fun and he fit right in to what we were doing. BTW… David just released a new book called “The Shocking Disconnect”. Check it out at https://shockingdisconnect.com/about/
How did your wife Patty (and your young family) react to the constant challenge of limited money and resources? How did you balance work & family, is it possible for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
Hahaha… I read your question to Pati and she said, “I have a high pain threshold!” And really, our kids were quite young at the time and they “didn’t know we wuz po!” God blessed the ministry with a great group of volunteers and most days I was home for dinner by 5p. Of course, I started my day at 530a since I was doing the morning show. Let’s just say all of us were drinking a lot of coffee in those days!
What advice would you give to a station that has KLOVE in their market?
If I was programming in a market that had a K-LOVE station, I would look for the ministry needs of the local community and work to help fill them. There are lots of niches out there. I wouldn’t try to minister in the same lane as EMF. Remember that KLOVE is a network. You can be much more heavily localized and focused on specific area needs. And we are all on the same team, when all is said and done …right?
Christian music radio has become more of a mainstay format, what alarms would you sound to station managers and programmers in this new era?
Alarms? Ohhh, my. It’s a 5-alarm fire out there, in case no one has noticed. Good is being called evil and vice versa. Evil is not just operating behind the scenes, it’s right there in our faces. Lawlessness. Post-term abortions. You name it. Some Christian teachers and pastors are actually espousing doctrines and concepts that are 180 degrees the opposite of Jesus’ teachings. But they have a nearly Biblically illiterate audience for it, so it just gets accepted and repeated.
Your ministry impact is directly related to you and does start with you personally. You cannot just be a Professional Christian! You can’t give others a drink from your own empty well. Immerse yourself in the Word. Commit to regular (and heavy) Bible reading. Start from, “In the beginning…” in Genesis and keep going until you read “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.” in Revelation. Then, start over and read it again, and again and again. You might be amazed at how much sharper your Truth-Detectors get.
What’s something you’ve learned about Christian Radio that you wish you would have known in the early days of KLOVE?
I wished I would have known more about the spiritual make-up of the Christian radio audience and understood more of where things were headed spiritually in America. The early George Barna research that came out in the 80’s was shocking to me. It showed there were virtually no lifestyle differences between the roughly 65% of Americans who called themselves evangelical Christians and the rest of the country who were not. Wait…what?! How can this be?
Then, in 1994, William Bennett put out another set of depressing statistics in his book, “The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators.” He showed that while crime was skyrocketing the expected prison sentences for those serious crimes were actually decreasing. Families were disintegrating and the children were paying the price. Teen suicides and divorces each had a 200% increase. Remember, this was nearly 30 years ago. It’s gotten much, much worse since then.
Two years after Bennett’s book, Barna updated his findings in his own 1996 book, “The Index of Leading Spiritual Indicators.” It basically showed that the U.S. had become even more Biblically illiterate and a solid Christian faith had been replaced with a different sort of personal faith that greatly minimized rules and Biblical authority. Attention to God’s commandments was deemed to be legalistic. Again, just like the cultural indicators, things have grown much worse since then.
In light of all this, had I known, I would have adjusted the 5 E’s of our ministry objectives slightly away from evangelism and more heavily towards education and exhortation. More actual Bible, less man’s opinions. That’s not all, but you get the idea.
In your wildest dreams did you envision EMF growing to what it is today…(your thoughts on the current and future)… ?
No way! I’d like to say that I had such huge faith and belief and vision that I could see all of what God had planned but I didn’t. Not even close! Joe Miller and the EMF Sig-Ex team knocked it out of the park and here we are. EMF is huge and has tremendous resources and correspondingly tremendous opportunities to impact our culture and even affect the direction of our country back towards God. I’m no longer involved, but I’d hope that’s what they would be focused on.
We certainly don’t need just another Christian station doing the same old things. The radio dial is filled with17 of them here in Spokane! So you’d think my hometown would be nearly in full-blown revival mode. Uhhhh, no. We have much of the same problems of skyrocketing crime, drug-abuse, homelessness and police funding while the Spokane City Council recently voted to spend nearly $1 million on crosswalk art and Gay Pride-themed murals. Huh?!
And on those happy notes, let me say it still comes back to the individual and what and who you choose to serve today. Count the cost and choose wisely.