The Christian Radio Homepage




Ryan Springer

Program Director




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Ryan's Career Capsule
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.

Evenings 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) ?

So many 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.


2. Lots of changes have just taken place at New Life Media, can you tell us about them?

Gosh, you've 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.

Another big 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 Johnson.


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.


3. How 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.


4. Regarding the changes how do things promotionally change?

The 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.


5. Tell us about the WBGL morning show and why it's important to the overall success of the station?

Air talent 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 happen.

WBGL's Tim 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 fans.


6. How do the changes affect your programming strategy?

It's a 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.


7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?

Not to 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.


8. What can Christian record labels do to better serve radio needs?

That's a 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.


9. Where do you see Ryan Springer in 5 years?

Truly, God 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.



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