I began in radio
shortly after college, doing weekends for WIBI in
Carlinville, IL (New Life Media Network). It was an hour and a half
commute each way from my home in St. Louis and I’m not sure my check
covered the driving expense, but I loved it. That was back when we
put nickels on tone arms if the needle got stuck on a record…
After becoming full-time production director with WIBI, I moved to
Peoria to serve as station manager for 91.5 WCIC, also with New Life
Media. Over the years I’ve spent mic time doing evenings,
afternoons, and mornings—and now focus almost exclusively on
management. I also oversee engineering administration for the
stations and translators in our group.
How has WCIC evolved
over the last few years?
We’ve always been
committed to community service. But we’ve been gripped by the
research trends over the last few years showing that the guy on the
street has a growing unfavorable perception of Christians. He sees a
disconnect between our words and our actions. To help counter this,
we’re allocating more promotional capacity than ever to mobilize
volunteers for community service projects. We want to give that guy
on the street reason to do a double-take and reconsider his negative
stereotype. Whether recruiting volunteers to help with back to
school registration, or helping to winterize homes in
under-resourced neighborhoods, we’re looking for innovative ways to
use our megaphone to encourage tangible expressions of the love of
Jesus in our community.
2. Has WCIC
made any changes due to economic situation, been affected in any
November we began to see a trend of more donors than usual
contacting us to disengage with their support because of financial
difficulty. In fund-raisers since then, we’ve done our best to
communicate sensitivity for those experiencing hardship and to
appeal to others who can make up the difference. We’re shaking our
heads in amazement. We just had a fund-raiser last week where
listeners stepped it up and met the goal a day early. We’re now on a
pace to exceed budget for 2009.
3. What do
you think are the main characteristics of a Christian radio GM?
The managers I
respect the most have genuine concern for the people on their teams
and offer a clear sense of where the ship needs to be steered.
4. What ways
or methods do you think work best to keep your staff motivated?
functioning teams are self-motivated. I believe this happens
naturally where there’s a culture of respect, deep buy-in for
vision, and when team members feel their roles fit their gifts and
passions. Rewards have their place, but author David Bernstein’s
observation about social entrepreneurship resonates in our
non-profit, ministry-driven environment: “If you are phenomenally
successful you don’t get rich—you change the world.” Hearing how the
station had a role in helping to change the world for an individual…
5. What kind
of promotions work best for Christian radio?
Promotions that are
designed specifically to either build cume, extend time spent
listening, or deepen the brand.
6. How do you
think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
Labels have done a
terrific job working with radio for many years. Our biggest
challenge will be to continue collaborating as allies as the plate
tectonics shift even more for radio and for records. Independent
artists no longer have to have labels to create with excellence.
Radio is competing with Internet for media share. As the pie slices
get smaller, I hope the established radio and recording communities
can work together to come up with creative, win/win ideas for new
7. In your
opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
I think our biggest
technical/strategic challenge is to figure out what our
organizations need to do in order to ride the new media wave instead
of getting wiped out by it. Our biggest challenge related to mission
is to present a winsome, authentic picture of what it means to
follow Christ in an increasingly skeptical world.
8. What do
you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air
I like to hear air
talent having fun and connecting with listeners on lots of different
levels. Sometimes we need to talk about an embarrassing moment and
just laugh at ourselves. It takes “everydayness” to build the
relationship with listeners. But our over-arching goal is to model
what it means to follow Christ and let a living faith spill onto the
mic. We want His truth and His love to be embedded in the stories
and conversations that naturally flow from our lives.
9. What (if
any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
KTIS is doing a
terrific job on-line with the “Prayer Works” emphasis and
through volunteer engagement efforts with their auxiliary website:
WPOZ in Orlando is consistently recognized for their programming
excellence, but I look to them for leadership when it comes to
engineering excellence as well. I was thrilled when their chief,
Randy Woods was recognized by Radio Ink in April as one of
the 30 most admired broadcast engineers in America.
10. Where do
you see Christian radio in 5 years?
It will be less
about radio and more about our cause.