This is my 25th year in
radio. I "fell into" it the month I turned 16. My first station
was KOKF 91FM, in Oklahoma City. I attended Sunday night church
across the street from the radio station and one Sunday night
after church I got in my car and heard Zayne Rose on the air
mention that the woman who normally answers the request line was
sick that night and not there. I figured, hey, I'll go knock on
the door and see if they need some help. Every Sunday for the
next 6 months I showed up. Then late one night I filled in for
him on the air, the PD, Ken Farley, heard me, and offered me a
volunteer on-air position. Eventually I was put on paid staff,
worked there through high school, and as I went into college
ended up on three different stations at the same time.
at KOKF, afternoon drive at the mainstream college radio
station, and weekends at mainstream AC, Magic 104. From there,
Bob Thornton hired me at Christian AC, KNTL, The Light 105 in
the early 90’s. I eventually moved on to mainstream AC, Kiss FM
in Oklahoma City before working with Bob Thornton again at KTLI,
Light 99FM, in Wichita, KS. I left there to PD a Christian AC in
western Oklahoma, then once again worked with Bob Thornton on a
brand new startup Christian AC in Lubbock, TX, KOFR, Free 107 –
owned by KXOJ. I was PD/MD and even for a while, GM. 6 years
later, (2004), it was sold to K-Love. At that point, Chuck
Pryor, then station manager at WBGL, hired me as production
director, and shortly after became program director.
1. Tell us about New Life
Media (a little history, etc) ?
incredible people in our industry have spent time at WIBI, WBGL
and WCIC over the decades, it's really amazing to think about.
In a nutshell though, New Life Media was founded in 1973, in
Carlinville, Illinois, when a group of Assemblies of God
churches pulled together to establish its first station, WIBI.
Since then, the network has grown and New Life Media is
currently made up of WBGL, which began 30 years ago in 1982,
based out of Champaign, IL, and WCIC, based out of Peoria, IL,
which began in 1983. These two stations air on over 20 full
power signals or translators that now cover most of the state of
Illinois, as well as parts of Missouri and Indiana.
Lots of changes have just taken place at New Life Media, can you
tell us about them?
got that right! Where to begin. I guess first by saying that
even with all the changes, in so many ways, very little has
changed. WBGL and WCIC have been amazingly stable in terms of
personnel over the 9 years I've been at WBGL. I think there's
good reason for that. A real family atmosphere, investment in
people and technology, and a passion for connecting our
listeners to Christ. Six months ago I would have never dreamed -
no one in our network would have dreamed, that WIBI would be
folded into WBGL and WCIC in early 2013. Our mission is to help
connect people to God, and to be most effective, our leadership
felt a merge would best allow us to accomplish that.
It has taken
a few months and a herculean effort on the part of both
station's staffs and a team of many engineers and IT guys to
make it all happen. WBGL took on seven of WIBI's signals, and
WCIC took on two. The technical challenges were monumental. We
now have the ability to break out local underwriters, promos,
legal IDs, etc.
Many of the
personalities heard on WIBI are still heard on WBGL or WCIC, and
by joining forces, the programming and outreach ministries have
the opportunity to expand exponentially. We owe so much of who
we are to visionary leadership over the years who've really lead
this ministry with prayer. People like Dick Whitworth, Barry
Copeland, Dave Brooks, Jeff Scott, Chuck Pryor, Jeremiah Beck,
and so many others before them.
part of our success has been consultants over the years like
John Frost and Alan Mason, along with researchers like Mark
Ramsey and story-strategist and marketing-to-women guru, Lisa
Much of that
research has led us over the past two years to an entirely
revised listener profile that focuses entirely on who she is as
a person, not on who she is as a statistic. What she craves
emotionally and spiritually, where she's at in experiencing and
navigating life's transitions, (weight loss, sandwich
generation, adoption, infertility, empty nest, divorce, job
security, money, downsizing, etc.) That ultimately led us to a
new logo, a new identifier (from "Family Friendly" to "Faith.
Hope. Family."), new custom jingle package, new website, and new
station image voices. All of this has led to a more transparent
and "real" personality/stationality, yet, we haven't changed the
core of who we are one bit.
do all the changes affect the daily operations?
As far as
on-air, we made some adjustments to shifts with the WIBI merge
starting in mid-February. With the added responsibilities of a
much larger territory, I made the decision to come off the air
as WBGL afternoon drive host to focus on programming, and we
were able to hire Johnathon Eltrevoog to pilot the afternoon
show with Lindsey Capperrune moving from evenings to co-host
with Johnathon. Melody Miller who was doing mornings at WIBI
began doing evenings for WBGL, something she's had a passion for
doing - reaching those listening at night, and she's doing an
amazing job connecting with our evening listeners. For the most
part, the rest of WIBI's on-air personalities were voicetrackers
from WBGL or WCIC, so again, WIBI listeners are hearing so many
of the same people they were already used to, just in different
dayparts. For those behind the scenes, it's certainly required
some adjustments in how we think about and process programming,
promotions, events, underwriting, etc. It's an exciting time
full of wonderful challenges and it's exciting to see where God
is leading us.
Regarding the changes how do things promotionally change?
heartbeat of our promotions, who we target and the types of
promotions and event we do won't change. Doing things that
matter, growing deeper with our listeners, giving her tools to
help her family and giving her the opportunity to reach out to
others in need won't change. Technically, G.W. Van Alstine is
promotions director for WBGL's southern region (former WIBI
territory), and Jennifer Briski, for the northern region. They
are working together to support and promote all events within
our larger territory of events and promotions. The way we
process and consider new promotions and events may change with a
larger territory, but our goal is to be as involved in local
community as ever, we'll just have to be creative about how we
live that out.
Tell us about the WBGL morning show and why it's important to
the overall success of the station?
is radio’s most important resource. A strong morning show that
can anchor the day and drive listening to other dayparts is
crucial, and we’re blessed with a team that is making that
and Pam have a highly interactive morning show. More than DJ's,
they are personalities that strive for excellence, reflect the
listener, and are attracting and leading a community of devoted
do the changes affect your programming strategy?
challenge to routinely bring the "local" component to such a
large geographical listening area. It's an important part of who
we are and will continue to be, but content is king, and our
stable of air talent just keeps raising the bar on bringing
great content that engages and connects with our listeners. I
think a key part of that is being fortunate enough to have Lisa
Williams coaching both our morning and afternoon show teams.
She's the right brain to this left brain programmer, and brings
great balance to my coaching. As far as the overall programming
strategy, the groundwork and vision has really been laid out
over the past couple of years through the combined programming
teams of all three NLM stations, station management, and
investment in listener research. God’s timing really is perfect
in all of this, and we’re confidently forging ahead, always in
prayer, to the future ministry He has for us.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest
obstacles facing Christian radio today?
over-spiritualize it, but getting in the way of God, not truly
listening for Him, and being busy to be busy. That kind of
sounds like my own life on a daily basis, but I’m trying, if
very slowly, to just be still and quiet and really listen for
Him more. I’d say, ask God where He is leading your station. Ask
Him to show you the big picture, ask Him where the “heat” is,
where to focus, and what you’re doing that may be expired. I
believe Christian radio can and should lead the way in making a
difference, a life-changing impact, in our communities, and if
we listen more and are busy less, we may find even greater
success and fulfillment.
What can Christian record labels do to better serve radio needs?
hard one, because we have such a great relationship with the
labels right now. I think I’d turn that question around a bit
and say that our music director, Joe Buchanan, and I, appreciate
the increased effort by the labels to help us better serve our
listeners. The labels do a nice job for us - artist
accessibility, product giveaways and unique opportunities. When
we approach them with promotion ideas, they’re always willing to
give it a shot - doesn't always work, but they never look at us
as being strange for asking. Their door is always open.
Where do you see Ryan Springer in 5 years?
only knows, but WBGL and New Life Media is an absolutely amazing
place to be. If I didn’t work here, I would want to work here! I
can’t say enough how grateful I am to work with the people who
surround me every day. I think in my new “era” of being entirely
programming focused and not on the air, that God has some new
and exciting things in store for me, and for WBGL. That could be
practicing and trying new things, building, innovating,
templating ideas, etc. What that looks like right now, I truly
don’t know, but I do feel God leading me in these areas.