Career Capsule: I started in radio on 10/31/96 at a country station (KRWQ) in Medford, Oregon. I did overnights there and still have my very first aircheck. It was HORRIBLE. In fact there are times when I think I had a bad show, I’ll go back and listen and realize I’ve grown a lot. Anyway, I worked for KRWQ for 14 years and since then Ive had stops in Las Vegas, Madison, Wisconsin, Omaha, Nebraska, Sacramento, California and now in Nashville with AIR1
I’ve worked primarily in country radio with a brief stop in rock (not my thang) and more recently in HOT AC.
Through it all, my music of choice was Christian music. In fact, my goal throughout my career was to be on AIR1. Michelle and I have worked for the ministry now for 3 years and to this day, I have to pinch myself. I mean, is this real life? I love working here. I work for incredible people and an amazing ministry. I’m just so grateful to God for the many blessings.
Dan, tell us what’s new at AIR1 … any news, changes etc, plus what’s new with YOU?
Its an exciting time at AIR1! We flipped to the new worship format 3 months after Michelle and I were hired. At the time we had next to no data on worship songs. No testing at all. One of barometers back then was seeing how well worship songs were doing on streaming platforms. We did learn quickly however that just because a song has 30 million downloads on Spotify that it doesn’t necessarily sound good on radio.
After a while we honed-In on what the listeners wanted. The worship music and in turn, AIR1 Has gotten better and better
What’s new with ME? Michelle and I moved to Franklin, TN in May and wow, our lives have been upside down since doing so. Between sports for our kids, finding a church, moving to a new house, finding friends, getting used to the area, we’re pretty tired. But, any day in Tennessee is a good day. We love it here. We’re looking forward to the day all of EMF has relocated here.
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
Michelle and I are married so we’re together ALL the time. Anytime something funny or interesting happens to us when we’re out and about we’ll say, “oh lets talk about this tomorrow on the show!” so in a way, we’re always working. We love it though. I will say when we take vacation, we shut everything down. No social media, no emails…. Nada. We feel its important to unplug
In short, our “life” is our show and AIR1. Everything we do with our kids, each other and friends usually makes it on the show. We’ve been doing mornings together for 12 years. We’ll probably be like this until we retire.
Overall, what are the biggest challenges of programming a national network, opposed to a local station?
I think the biggest challenge is finding the right balance. Let’s be honest, people in Dallas Texas are a lot different than people in New York City. Their musical tastes are probably different too. That’s why testing is so vital. We try to find the best of the best, always. We’re trying to reach people from coast to coast. It’s a challenge to keep everyone happy with our selections
Also our on-air talent has to be mindful of EVERYONE listening. You can’t be too local or too regional with your conversations. You need to be relatable to everyone. It’s a tough balancing act, for sure.
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
Personally I learned that I NEED people in my life. When we were all quarantined, I missed people. I missed even the small talk. I’m so happy we’re together again
I will say, that I noticed a more raw and real reaction from artists. The lyrics to some of the songs that came out during the pandemic were just what we needed at the right time. I think in a way, it was good for our industry.
What is your opinion of podcasts for stations & air talent, are they necessary, must have one, etc?… Please explain…
I don’t think show replay podcasts are necessary and in fact, I think they are a waste of time. What you do on the air is magic as it happens, you’re not recreating that same magic when you slap it on-line.
I do think Podcast are great! Find something your passionate about and GO FOR IT! Pour yourself out and you’ll see great things happen. You’re not looking to reach the masses, but you will reach an audience of people who share your passion. That’s a beautiful thing.
AIR1 is BLESSED to have some of the best air talent in Christian Radio, what is your philosophy in managing them?
Firstly, we have an amazing staff. I love each one of our staff like they’re family. We also work with one of the top consultants in the country, Tracy Johnson. With his advice, we’re ALL working on our craft constantly.
My philosophy is simple… let the talent shine. People can get music anywhere, its whats said between the songs that matters and what endears you to your listeners. You are friends to them. Put a smile on your listeners face, make them think sometimes and maybe share a tear with them. Be real!
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
We’re not raising up new talent. While that’s great for existing talent, its not great for radio in general. We need to find a way to encourage and cultivate new talent. Who are tomorrows talent? Can anyone answer that? I’m quite concerned about this.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My first PD was a guy named Larry Neal. The sweetest man you’ll ever meet. 2 weeks after 9/11 happened I had the chance to go to NYC with my church for a mini-missions trip. However I didn’t have any vacation. I offered to take some time off without pay. Larry told me to go and call in once or twice and he’d consider that “work” and paid me for the entire time I was there
Larry died last year and it broke my heart. He had me pray with him before he passed and I’ll never forget him crying and saying “thank you” after I said amen. I miss him.