Career Capsule: Started in Christian radio in Denver. But as they say sometimes “PK’s are the worst”, and this pastor’s kid went to work for those heathen Top 40 stations against my parent’s wishes. The bulk of my career was in Denver, but for a few far way stops like Christian FM in Vero Beach FL. Back and forth between secular and Christian stations for a lot of years while God ground off the remaining rough and stubborn edges. He brought me to a profound no compromise all-in decision to serve Him in Christian radio only with my talents from now on.
Dave, Tell us what’s new with KSLT… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
First of all, Ted Kelly/HisAir, I appreciate the opportunity to answer questions on this interview and to boast of the One who makes the broadcasting of The Good News possible! Through seeking His face I received a “download” of 3 words: maximize the ministry. Those words have been part of an enthusiastic rallying prayer for me and a very devoted prayer chain with respect to KSLT, the heritage Christian AC for these parts going on 34 years now. We’re constantly “In Awe” of our God! He is richly blessing the 5 state ministry of KSLT. As I write this, the search is still on for my permanent co-host on the morning show. After 11 years at Bethesda Christian Broadcasting, longtime KSLT station personality Jamie Knapp was recently blessed with a great opportunity to be in management for a business outside of radio, so we experienced a big change in station presence. With prayer over every morning show, God had gelled the Dave + Jamie morning show into a balanced show of strong ministry, contests, humor, and phones, or as I call them “the community pipeline”. After the news of Jamie’s resignation, my GM Tom Schoenstedt and I met. Tom was ever the encourager, basically saying it’s not an ending point, it’s a beginning. Tom hears from God, guides with a steady fair hand, and I love the man. For me to be at the programming helm of such an anointed ministry is truly humbling, and we are all moving ahead in childlike faith. To think that God redeemed the life of a wretch like me, a pastor’s kid who went off the rails back in the day, to now be using the talents He blessed me with for sold-out glorifying of God (instead of self for so many wasted years) is almost unbelievable! That is to say, if we didn’t serve a God who takes His people from the guttermost to the uttermost!
What are some unique characteristics you’ve discovered about your market?
This market has incredibly loyal listeners, and I’ll never grow tired of any story that listeners give us of the early days of KSLT. This audience has been there, done that with the station. They’ve prayed for the ministry, supported it financially, showed up at station events, and they look forward to the next big thing(s) in Kingdom work. It’s rich, and it’s so humbling to be considered a friend to so many. Together with generous listeners, sponsors and the Hills Alive committee, we are preparing for yet another ticket-free, fence-free event of Christian music concerts in Rapid City known as HILLS ALIVE. HA has been running for a few decades, pointing others to Christ, and blessing and motivating believers that come from multiple states, and sometimes from other countries.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Perhaps the best programming advice I’ve been given would have come from either Doug Erickson, my former PD at KIMN in Denver back in the day, or Mark Bolke, my PD at Y108 also in Denver. Those stations were the biggest of the big back in the day, and those guys had it down to a science. It essentially was all about foundational things like being truly in tune with the community, being a companion to the listener, lifting the listener over yourself (imagine that!), molded together with a heavy emphasis on tight n bright personality phones. Also, we pulled off incredible contests and promotions that captured the listener through bigger than life presentations. Wow, I’m getting excited just writing this, as I just know that God has plans for KSLT’s forward-moving ministry which I believe will draw souls to His Light and into His plans like never before! I was on the morning show recently with a local pastor who was filling in until a permanent co-host is named, and the overwhelming impression I had from God was “and the crowd pressed in”. After starting the show with prayer, God’s spirit used our voices mightily to provide Hope for the hurting and help for the helpless and to speak life and encouragement over the audience He brought in. I was editing at a furious pace behind the scenes believe me. We aired a ton of ministry calls, the pastor and I ministered to many more on the phones that didn’t make it to air, and yet…the crowd pressed in. It’s humbling to think back on that great day, and I trust God to continue His anointing on this ministry.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
All I will say is that God uses everything in His way. I’ve learned more about giving and receiving Grace in the last two years than at any point in my life, truly! The main thing I’d like to leave people with is that we really need to stop looking horizontally in this world and keep our eyes fixed vertically on the One who gives beauty for ashes. I’m a recipient of His beauty. If you have another Christian signal in your market, make it your prayer that above all, Christ is lifted up above self. I wasted far too many years through the foolish thoughts of a (then) young man’s prideful thinking. Remember, call earnestly on Christ to lift “the dross out of your silver”. Seriously, have Him burn it OUT of you…so that He is glorified through your talents, and you are not! No compromise.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?
Every day it has to be pre-show prayer, without question. Inviting Him in to EVERY morning show is key! Die to self! As an aside, I MUST have coffee…and occasionally Rockstar energy drinks, at the same time. I know, I know, you don’t need to warn me. I’m a heart patient, survived two brain tumor operations, and yet I’m drinking all that caffeine?!!
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Love this question! It will come primarily via strong talent actually taking the time to teach this craft. I went to broadcast school in Denver years ago, then returned to teach at the very same school after my Denver radio career took off. I’ve since taught a lot of on-air talent. When you recognize that 1 or 2 diamond in the rough people out of a class size of 25 who have the talent and drive to actually go somewhere in this business, make time for them. Your efforts to bless them with the skill set God loaned you will pay off when you see them grow as a true personality, not an announcer, which are dime a dozen types, sadly. One life at a time.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
I’m not one to dilute the message. Here it is; I believe the number one obstacle is air talent that wants to make it about themselves. I challenge everyone to listen to any station in any market, Christian or secular format, and notice how many on air people are self-aggrandizing. In Christian radio, this is a crying shame. Yet, when that rare true talent who is a real communicator comes along, you really notice it. And you are putting the cherry on top when as a talent, you point others to Him, and deflect away from yourself.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Oh, so many. As mentioned above, some of my former PDs and Ops guys. Doug Erickson hired me in Denver at what was the “IT station” of it’s day and his somewhat intimidating hiring speech was like “jocks would being willing to cut off their right arms and relocate their families from bigger markets, just to work at this station, even part-time! At the time I was a young cocky punk, the 2nd youngest jock on that Denver heritage top 40, and let me tell you, it was quite a ride. Steve Kelley, longtime KIMN personality, friend and fellow believer made a big impression on me. So did the late Paxton Mills, who let me hang in, and sometimes be part of the KIMN morning show many days. I was “at school” if you will, just observing and picking his brain. It was rich, and I was a sponge. When it comes to all-time great morning talents from any size market, many pale even to this day when compared to the talents God blessed Paxton with. Gone too soon.