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Cameron Beierle Interview

Cameron Beierle
General Manager
KACS
Chehalis, WA

 

Career Capsule: Cameron trained at Walla Walla University with a BA in Mass Communications Media, and a BA in Theology. Started in 1986 as student announcer and “Concert in the Evening” host at WWU associated network Positive Life Radio KGTS, and served as part of the team transitioning that network from classical fine-arts to a Contemporary Christian format. Served as Music Director and Morning Host from 1987 – 1989, then accepted the position of General Manager at VOAR, Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada and served from 1989 – 1999. While in Canada Beierle took part in efforts lobbying the CRTC to change Canadian law to allow licensing of specifically Christian formatted stations and licensees. When leaving Canada the VOAR network had an official letter from the CRTC in its files inviting them to apply for licenses to become a Christian format network – the first such, in Canada. Beierle took a hiatus from broadcasting from 1999 – 2003, launching a career in audiobook publishing and narration and becoming Acquisitions Editor for Books In Motion in Spokane, WA. Beierle continues that career as an award-winning (Silver Angel Award) narrator with several hundred titles performed so far. Beierle accepted the position of General Manager for KACS, Chehalis WA in late 2003, and remains GM at present, having helped the station grow to a 7-FM signal network.

 

Cameron, tell us what’s new at KACS … any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?

The network continues to build on the previous expansion including the Your KACS app, webstream, and pending signal modifications and additions.

Thoroughly enjoying being “Grandpa” to three lively grandsons who love “papa,” and driving a Christmas gift used hybrid SUV with enough room to carry them. In the midst of performing the Seven Archangels fiction series by author Jane Lebak.

 

How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?

Still learning to find the right balance, and appreciating the patience, understanding and support from my wife, son and daughter who sacrificed more than they should have been asked of them. IMHO we in Christian radio run the risk of letting our “calling” and “mission” consume us so much that we can too easily lose sight of our God-given blessing and first calling as husband, father and friend. No one has ever regretted not spending enough time at work!

 

Overall, what is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?

Best broadcast advice I’ve been given:

  • Any on-air issue comes first.
  • Be your listener when you’re doing production, and when announcing: ask yourself “What is my primary listener doing right now, and what’s on their mind, why do they care about this content” when you’re tracking or announcing. Keep it relevant.
  • When it comes to ministry – people come before message.  When it comes to operations – business funds ministry. Favorite quote, “The people you are laboring among will determine for you what method (format) you ought to utilize in reaching them.” People first, then the message.
  • Never be afraid to think outside the box in the industry. It’s the different “niche” that stands out rather than the cookie cutter operation.

Worst broadcast advice I’ve been given:

Let the charts build your playlist—live by the charts. (IMHO that’s the cart pulling the horse). The charts are a great, very helpful tool, but shouldn’t take the place of a good ear for what plays well and what your specific audience appreciates or wants. Otherwise we’re all chasing the charts, and playing what someone somewhere else, for whatever reason other than my listeners has decided should get the most play.

 

What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?

Nothing new so much, but just re-emphasizing that people turn to Christian radio not just for the dry statistics or data – they can get that anywhere.  Instead put that information through the lens of ministry, and speak to the heart issues in them. For me and my team that means presenting the hope, not the hype, sharing assurance instead of anxieties, and presenting peace instead of panic, and finally, focusing on faith instead of fear.

 

What are your thoughts on podcasting, should all Christian broadcasters have a podcast?…  

Podcasting is one tool we’re not quite ready to deploy at KACS.  Closest we come to that is the live feed of our daily KACS Prayer Time; call that a podcast I suppose.  For us it’s a matter of practicality ranging from the additional audio licensing fees to staffing, time management, and other resources. Some good ideas just have to wait until there’s funding, staff and the creativity to do it. One thought about podcasting – the best podcasts stand out because there’s something unique and relevant being said, and done so consistently. We best use this recent tool when we’ve got the unique content and a purpose/mission for it…otherwise we’re just adding to the overall noise in cyberspace.

 

Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?

If I’m reading industry articles correctly there remains a strong connect in radio with people younger than I am.  When they see the roots of radio – localism, relevancy, immediacy – that built our heritage and service, none of those things have changed in my opinion, they still resonate. I know two great young men, for example, in their 20’s who love radio, and are already establishing careers in the industry. For them it began with volunteering in their late teens.  In the stations I’ve served including volunteers and especially teens and young adults has always remained important. The challenge I’ve seen isn’t interest among those age groups, it’s a decreasing opportunity for training in the industry at the college and tech school level. Where can an interested young person go to get training, on the job opportunity, and a chance to start.  I think that falls increasingly to us as broadcasters.

 

Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?

Increasing competition for opportunity and a place to be heard. More and more outlets are outsourcing their tracking positions, so fewer voices are heard but in more places.  Some would argue that might tend to increase the quality of the talent.  On the other hand, what happens to the local voice, who may not have the same polish but knows the community including the current events, needs and where things are happening with their neighbors.

Then waiting off in the wings is even AI and automated “voices” – I keep wondering what will happen with tracking if that keeps developing and improving. We went from 24/7 live radio to mostly tracked voices, how long is it until an AI simulation can perform that function?

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

I grew up hearing Paul Harvey every day on the ride to school, and Bill Pearce every evening in my parent’s home.  Loved how their sincerity and being “a real person” came through, even while using all the training and voice techniques they were masters of.

Then of course there were popular voices like Casey Kasem, Shadow Stevens, and others I heard when I was a teen that encouraged me to try out different styles.

 And of course the people who gave me my first opportunity at Positive Life Radio and WWU – Dave Bullock (Prof. retired) and Kevin Krueger (WGTS).

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