BC (Before Christ) Ron Shank was building a resume at various
secular CHR and AC stations. Shortly after becoming a Christian
(1992) he started as a part-time, weekend over-night jock at the
new (then single-station) WAFR-FM. It's a long road, across many
secular stations and even the start of his own IT consulting
company, before landing back (18 years later) as Morning co-host
then PD at the 72 station music/teaching network of American
Recently you've had some changes at AFR, can you tell us about
The changes here can best be described as a change in direction.
Senior leadership made the decision to end our contract with Jon
and Sherry Rivers at middays. A week later the decision was made
to also make a change at the General Manager position. We have
begun the slow search to find a mid-day replacement. We are
trying to be very intentional about the hire. There is a very
unique and distinct culture here at AFR. We need them to be the
right fit and we need to be the right fit for them or no one
wins. GM duties are being covered by AFR President, Tim Wildmon
and Operations Director, Jim Stanley, until a replacement can be
2. With so many signals covering various areas how does AFR stay
in touch with listeners?
We now have 3 networks and approximately 200 stations. First, we
try and make sure they have ways to contact us. Every phone call
to our office is taken and every email is read and almost always
responded to. We run local weathers on all 200 stations and
PSA’s for each station. So, for most people it sounds local. But
we don’t hide the fact we are a network either. We let them take
ownership of the fact this is their network and they are part of
a very big family.
3. What characteristics make a great Christian radio PD?
The great PD’s I know and want to be like are all humble
coaches/teachers. They want the best for their team and the
best for the listeners. They care about both and understand that
every shift is valuable to the ministry and somewhere, at any
time of the day, God can use an eight-second break to change
4. What criteria do you require for a promotion to air on your
The promotion has to matter to the listener. If it’s about
another ministry, it has to be a ministry we trust and are
willing to put our “stamp of approval” on. For example,
Operation Christmas Child and Gospel for Asia are two ministries
we partner with that allow our listeners to make a difference.
The ministries have excellent integrity and we consider them
5. What AFR promotion is your most memorable?
One thanksgiving our news director released live turkeys from a
helicopter... oh wait, that wasn’t us. The first year we did
our “Friday Night Football” contest. Listeners tell us why we
should come and be their high school’s biggest fans. We went to
Britt, IA (pop 2,000) to cheer on a team that had lost a
football player to a tragic accident. The entire community was
grieving and we had a chance to really shine a spotlight on this
little All-American Town and show them God’s love. We’ve done
it 3 years now, but I’ll always remember the first year.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve
I’m pretty happy with the interaction we have with Christian
labels now. Over the last few years there’s been an increase in
partnership and communication within the industry. Look at CMB
(Christian Music Broadcasters) for example. That wouldn’t be
possible without the hard work and dedication of the labels.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing
Christian radio today?
Change. Not change itself, but fear of it. We have to change or
die. However, don’t lump me into the “Radio is Dead - The end
draweth nigh” camp. Good old stick-in-the-ground radio is far
from dead. In fact, it’s growing.. but to the web. Embrace the “interwebz.”
Drink a little of the kool-aid.
8. Tell us about your morning show?
I’m the co-host. The Ron part of JJ and Ron. JJ and I have been
friends since I became a Christian in 1992. He’s been at AFR
since it started in 1991. He was the first voice on the air that
July morning. He’s a comedian and natural storyteller, loves his
family (wife and 4 girls) and loves the listeners more than
anyone I’ve ever known. I bring a little sarcasm (sometimes too
much), a glimpse into the opposite reality of raising 3 boys and
I love technology - something JJ hates. On paper, there’s no way
this team should mix. But our lifelong friendship seems to fix
it all. And I can’t leave out Travis Haley, our producer, who
runs the ship, keeps us on track, warns us when we need to wrap
it up. The show would be like two ADHD pre-teens at a sugared
cereal convention without Travis.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider
I like what WPOZ and KSBJ are doing with digital radio and
reaching out to younger audiences. I’m also very interested in
what our own sister-network (Urban Family Talk) is doing to
reach the black community regarding the culture war. Christian
Radio as a whole seems so afraid of being seen as hateful that
they are no longer willing to speak truth in love. We’ve got an
opportunity to be different. Love and Truth are not separate
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Alive and well. Radio will expand more into the Internet and app
space. But FM radio isn’t going anywhere. In fact, watch for it
to come back to phones. It’s a camera and a radio!! Order now!
[Not available in Montana]