Career Capsule: Most of my career was spent in Corporate America, mainly with Clear Channel Outdoor. Sales and Sales Management for 15 years. That’s how I met Jim Hoge and Dean O’Neal. I helped put together their Billboard campaign. Also, a short stint with Cox Media Group where I learned everything that was wrong with commercial Radio.
Carter, tell us what’s new at WPOZ … news, changes, & new with YOU… etc?
When you are trying to run and grow 8 radio stations, there is always something new going on, just depends on the day. We did launch Z Christmas. com on our App right after Christmas of 2020. Finally, something for those folks that say we miss the Christmas music or just want a little Christmas in July. We just welcomed another Orlando Veteran Radio Personality to the team, Grace Vasquez. She spent the better part of 25 years doing mornings with the markets Top 40 and Country radio stations. We are blessed to have her. And, when your Founder has been in Radio for over 45 years, there is always a project on the table.
New with me? There is something new going on for me on a daily basis as my position takes me into pretty much all the departments one way or another, but on a micro level I’ve taken the point role as we redesign and expand the user experience with our APP. We are working with Jacobs Media. Basically, I will be the internal air traffic controller to make sure IT, programming and marketing all stay on track and focused as we work hand and hand with Jacobs on the build. I’m excited about what I’ll learn along the way.
How has your stations operations been affected by the pandemic? What’s been the biggest issue?
Pandemic: It’s interesting, I keep telling people that if you were running your ministry the right way before the pandemic, you not only survived, but possibly even thrived. Before the world shut down a year ago, the Ministry was the healthiest it’s ever been, in all areas. Don’t get me wrong, we took a hit in our partnership revenue and that was the largest pain point, but donors came to the table without us even asking!!! We would get emails in the morning of folks giving without ANY kind of ask! So much so, it not only made up for shortfalls, but above and beyond what we needed to survive. The last thing we were going to do ask for help when our Community was being devasted. With tourism being our bread and butter and all of the job loss in that sector, we had to super serve those in need. Almost daily on air, we are talking about the many ministries in Central Florida that are feeding families.
What is the best advice you’ve received to advance a Christian Radio ministry to its audience? The worst?
Best advice: Make every single decision based on what your target wants. NOT on what people in the building or on the Board or in the Industry wants. Ours is “Amy” (target listener). If she wouldn’t like it, don’t do it. That and research. Research helps you win. And one more thing that can be easily overlooked, sound better than anyone else. It truly makes a difference! Worst advice: Probably when I was with Cox Radio and they blew up 96.5 Rock to simulcast Conservative Talk Radio on the AM and FM dial and immediately told me to go out to the largest revenue producing accounts that had been with us for 20+ years and double the rates. They did it on the assumption ratings would double or triple, that didn’t happen. Oh, such good times. Believe it or not, those folks will still take my calls. LOL. Now in Christian Radio, there is no bad advice when you have Alan Mason, John Frost and Mark Ramsey on your team. Remember what I said about Research?
What ways have you seen that show the evidence of WPOZ’s ministry impact the most?
Ministry Impact: Often we don’t realize it until we get out in the community at events. Or as I mentioned before, the daily donor emails we get with a note attached to their gift on how we have gotten them through life struggles that most of us can only imagine. I read every single one so I don’t forget what we are truly showing up to work to do each day, help people to see Jesus through the good times and bad. I’ll even share these with our Partners/Underwriters to remind them that what they are investing in with us is much more than results to their bottom lines. They are saving souls. Also, having a 9 year old Daughter myself. When I pick her up from school and she can sing every song with me on the Z, BOOM, mission accomplished!
When creating a ministry partnership for WPOZ, what criteria needs to be met by the potential partner?
Ideal partnership: Simple, it has to be something Amy and her family (our target) cares about. If it doesn’t, 9 times out of 10 we say, no. You can do that when your Donor to underwriting or partnership Revenue leans in your favor. If partnership revenue were 50-75% of your revenue, that would be much harder to do. Thankfully, that’s not the case for the Z. And, 90% of our Partnerships are not for profit or tax exempt. We make it a very exclusive club and we present it that way. We only run 2 or 3 units an hour, ask for a premium and knock it out of the park for our Partners. We recently had one of largest partners and our second largest employer in Central Florida invited us to attend all of their community vaccine events. They wanted the radio station playing in the waiting area while people waited to see if they had any type of reaction to the shot. What an incredible opportunity for the ministry as thousands of people of been attending these events.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian Radio overall?
Obstacles: There are a few. First, Radio in general just not being radio anymore, at least not the radio we all grew up with. Commercial radio is a shell of its former self and that affects ALL radio. Second, the transition from Terrestrial (Traditional) Radio to the phone and the car dash board. We are putting more resources into technology than we ever have.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Radio Influences: I actually have 3. First, Jim Hoge, our Founder. I call him the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Doc Brown of Christian Radio. He risked it all to do something that most thought was crazy. There were times he had to ask his only employee to wait to cash his paycheck, and he didn’t even take a paycheck. There are a million examples of one little thing that could have gone wrong, and the Z would have never existed. And here we are today, debt free, a footprint that lets us serve 11 counties, with 4,470,579 under City Grade signal. And, until we dropped Nielsen in 2015 we spent the better part of 5 years as the #1 rated station in Orlando 6+. And all started by a guy that basically could fit the radio station into the back of his Nissan Sentra 25 years ago. I admire anyone that risks it all for a dream. Second: Dean O’Neal our PD. This man’s knowledge of not only Christian Radio, but ALL radio is mind blowing. What an asset to have under our roof. Most importantly, he knows what Amy wants to hear and refuses to deviate from it. Third: Our Morning Show Host, Tyler McKenzie. I believe, she is everything you want in On Air Talent. Just lays it out on the field every single day. It’s just who she is, on and off the air, and the listeners know and recognize it, too. The effort she puts into the Morning Show, on the air and behind the scenes is inspiring. All, while Home Schooling two girls. And, oh by the way, her self created feature just tested #1 on Z88.3. When you’re in the business as long as some of us have been, you can take what we do and who we do it with for granted. All three of these people inspire me daily in their own unique ways.