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Ron Shank

PD/Morning Co-host





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Ron's Career Capsule
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 Family Radio.


1. Recently you've had some changes at AFR, can you tell us about them?

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 found.


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 someone’s life.


4. What criteria do you require for a promotion to air on your station?

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 like family.


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 Christian radio?

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 innovators today?

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 roads.


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]




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