Way back in the mid 80's I was working on an advertising degree
at LSU and joined the sales team at a small CCM station 35 miles
north of Baton Rouge so that I could get some real world
experience writing and producing commercials. This confirmed two
things for me. I stink at sales but I love radio. I started
picking up some on air shifts, helping the pd with music
rotations and format clocks and started producing imaging for
the station. Within a short time the powers that be realized I
was a liability on the sales team, but an asset in the
production room and I became the Production Director. From there
I worked my way up to music director, snagged the afternoon
drive slot and about a year later, took over the Morning spot
and eventually, the PD spot as well.
After 10 years in Baton Rouge which included a power upgrade,
tower build and studio relocation, the station was put up on the
block and I decided it would be in my best interest to find
another sand box to play in, That brought me to Sarasota, FL
where Bill Martin and I saw success with "The Morning Cruise".
That was in 1996. After a nice 3 1/2 year run, Bill left radio
to finish a seminary degree and We hired Dan Brodie.
Dan and I kept The Morning Cruise going until 2001, when I
jumped ship and moved to Houston to do mornings with Susan
O'Donnell. Susan I had a good four year run. She's like a sister
to me to this day. But in 2005, The JOY FM called and said
they'd lured Bill back into radio and wanted to put the band
back together, I left the heat and humidity of Houston to return
to the sand and sea breeze of Tampa Bay.
About a year and a half ago, we added Atlanta to The Morning
Cruise family when we expanded The JOY FM Network with the
acquisition of the former J933.
What's the most exciting news about The Morning Cruise that you
can tell us ?
The thing we
are most excited about is the upgrade of our signal in Tampa. In
Florida, The JOY FM Network includes stations in Sarasota,
Gainesville, Ocala, Sebring and New Port Richey. Since the
beginning, the goal has been to break in to the Tampa Market.
Our Sarasota signal is too far south and our New Port Richey
station hasn't had the power to push in from the North. We were
recently able to purchase a signal in St. Petersburg which set a
few things in motion, resulting in a power upgrade for our New
Port Richey signal and full coverage of Tampa for the first time
in the network's 27 year history.
2. You've been doing mornings a long time, do you ever really
get used to the hours??
No. To be
honest, I'm a morning person because I get paid to be. My
natural inclination is to be a night owl, so I tend to stay up
too late. Fortunately, I have always been able to function well
on 4-5 hours of sleep. Give me a good Sunday nap and maybe a
short nap about mid-week and I'm good to go.
3. You've been in smaller markets and worked you way up, once
you're behind the mic what's the difference?
one. At least there shouldn't be. One of the first radio shows I
remember listening to was Ross and Wilson. They were so
entertaining that I would actually set an alarm in the summer to
catch their show. When I started in a doublewide trailer 35
miles north of Baton Rouge, I wanted to be that kind of jock. I
wanted to be that entertaining. I didn't care how big the market
was, I just wanted to make a connection with the people on the
other side of the speakers
4. Regarding your morning partners, what is the 1 main
ingredient that makes the team click?
all, we all have a pretty high standard, Each of us believes in
striving for excellence. We also believe that radio is a strong
ministry tool, but is also an entertainment medium. If we're not
entertaining, no one listens. If no one listens, who are we
going to minister to?
believe that one of the things CCM radio is really good at is
building community. We look for ways to do just that. We want to
build and strengthen relationships between ourselves and our
listeners, our listeners and our artists and our listeners and
actually like each other. Morning Shows are like a marriage and
if the relationship doesn't work outside the studio, it will
ultimately not work in the studio. Many a broadcaster has been
made miserable by an "arranged marriage" that just didn't work.
5. If you were 16 again, would you still pursue a career in
know the landscape now is very different and it's harder to get
a foot in the door, but I can't think of anything I'd rather do.
I get paid to listen to the music I love and talk to my friends,
what could be better.
6. Is morning syndication a threat or a blessing?
depends on your point of view. Despite the mantra "Local, local,
local". as a response to syndicated shows, satellite radio,
internet radio, the truth is entertaining will trump local every
time if local isn't being done well. So to answer the question,
for listeners who have suffered through bad local morning
shows, a good syndicated show is a blessing. To lazy,
dispassionate, "good enough to get by" morning show talent, it's
7. What 1 thing do you regret NOT doing earlier in your on air
Asked for a
I've been fortunate. I was taught by some great people, I found
ways to get tapes of shows I respected, I was able to network
with people who have made me a better broadcaster and I've never
been without a job.
seriously, better pay and a bigger programming budget and a
promotions director would have been extremely helpful in Baton
Rouge 25 years ago. I wish I'd known how to make that happen.
8. There are still some big markets without a CCM station, why
do you think that is, will this change?
signal is expensive and there CCM radio has not been a
traditional ratings winner. On the plus side, we are seeing that
change in a few markets. Will it change? Only if someone with
big money and a passion for CCM radio steps into those markets.
I say that because it's going to take knowing the audience,
loving the music and committing the resources and time it will
take to build a community. I don't see Clear Channel, for
example, having the passion or patience to make it happen.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
something we see a lot of in CCM. We have a tendency to follow
much more than we lead. Everybody wants to do the same promotion
that worked really well for that one station, a website like
those guys have, the same consultant that made WXXX what they
are today. Make us sound like them, look like them, teach our
guys to talk like them. That's not the kind of thinking that
leads to innovation.
there are a few stations that are finding new ways to make an
impact. If you are doing something no one else is doing or if
people are asking you how you did that, congratulations, You are
an innovator. If not, here's the real question, "What are you
doing to connect with and serve your audience?" Because
innovation isn't the goal, it's the result of finding new and
better ways to answer that question.
10. Where do you see Christian Radio in 5 years?
I think we've made great strides in the quality
of the product and as a result are seeing ratings success.
Ratings success means more lives being touched. The challenge
will be finding and training the next generation of CCM radio
talent. As long as we find and train a new generation who share
our passion, there's no reason we can't continue to grow the
format and use our gifts and abilities to encourage people and
share the good news that regardless of how good or bad the world
around us seems, there is a risen savior, His name is Jesus and
he wants to have a relationship with each of us.