my first paid radio job at age 15 in Kansas City at Oldies
1140-KLDY. I have spent the last 29 years on the radio in
Nashville, Daytona Beach and Orlando. I was present at the
birth of Z88.3 in August of 1995 and almost 15 years later,
stand in awe of what God has done at the Z.
Z88.3's Vice President/General Manager/Program Director and
co-host of the afternoon show with Tracy Leek.
Congratulations on the #1 ARB ranking in the Winter 2010 Orlando
survey… What was your initial reaction when first getting the
To be quite honest, I was in shock and amazement at what God has
done with and through Z88.3. He took a little FM signal in the
non-com part of the dial playing music that is unfamiliar to
most people and faithfully used it (and us) for His glory. I
was in a daze for the first day or two just getting my arms
2. Overall what does this achievement mean to WPOZ?
At the end of the day, it means that we answered His call and
did our job. God entrusted us with a radio facility and some of
radio's best air personalities, technical people and office
staff. The fruit of our labor is measured in several ways,
ratings being one of them. Making it to #1 reaffirms things
that we already knew. That relevant, transparent personalities
living their lives out on the radio is important. That being
live and local with our full-timers on the weekends when the
rest of the market is voice tracked is important. That
our commitment to severe weather coverage any time of the day or
night is important. That our obsession with choosing the music
right for Orlando, Florida is important. To quote my friend
John Frost, who says he borrowed the phrase from someone else,
"It isn't any one thing, but the sum of all the parts that makes
a station win or lose."
3. As far as we now this is the 1st time a
Contemporary Christian formatted station has achieved a number
one ranking overall in a top 50 market. What does this
achievement mean to Christian radio in general?
It is proof that when CCM radio is done strategically and
consistently, it can become every bit as mainstream in a market
as Country, CHR or AC. But the music can only get you some of
the way. I believe the tipping point is when a CCM
station embraces a culture of serving the community in ways that
radio does better than any other medium. Severe weather,
traffic and being the mouthpiece for other community-minded
organizations are just a few of the ways that unleash
the power of radio to serve your community. In the process of
serving the community you build up trust equity. Then when they
hear your personalities being transparent about their lives,
warts and all...and letting their faith shine as they share
about the real mountains and valleys of life, it is not just a
radio station preaching at them. It is their trusted friend on
the radio, sharing real life with them...and in the process,
having the opportunity to point them to Christ. Serving others
and pointing people to Christ are two things that a CCM station
can do better than any other format.
4. How do ratings affect a non-comm … such as WPOZ?
For Z88.3, the ratings are one of many forms of research. They
give us a glimpse of how effectively the station is reaching
into the market we serve. I take to heart that "To whom much is
given, much is required." The opportunity of radio is to be
able to reach out to hundreds of thousands or even millions of
people with the Good News of Jesus. Ratings are just but one
tool to evaluate how effectively you are doing that. They can
serve as verification that the mission and strategy of the
station is on-track or a wake up call that the tactics being
used are not accomplishing the strategy of the station (or the
strategy as it exists is unattainable).
5. Are there some factors that you think directly affected
WPOZ’s ratings success?
First and foremost, I think our team of personalities works very
hard to connect with “Kate” in very personal and tangible ways.
They are not just faceless voices on the radio. They are real
people with real families and real struggles like everyone
else. That kind of transparency is found on no other station in
our market and makes Z88.3 stand out on the radio dial. We have
a connection with 'Kate' that goes beyond the music.
believe that our commitment to severe weather coverage directly
impacts our success. While most other music stations are voice
tracked and disconnected from what is going on, severe weather
becomes our number 1 priority. Not only are we the station that
is Safe For The Little Ears, we work hard to provide the
information that 'Kate' needs to help her to keep her family
safe. I believe that Z's ratings success is in large part about
serving our community which is a seemingly lost art in the radio
6. What will WPOZ need to do to stay number one?
don't know that the goal is to be fixated on being number one.
For us the goal has always been to do the best radio we possibly
can by serving others and pointing them to Christ. When
you serve others, people get to see your heart and become
attracted to you. Once you establish trust you have a
level of credibility when you point them to Christ. When
we stay faithful to that
call, God has been faithful to bring many listeners to 88.3 on
the dial...for His purposes.
7. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve
The attempt to change the law and force performance royalties on
terrestrial radio and the Internet fees to Sound Exchange,
ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are potentially poised to slow down or
extinguish Christian radio's ability to move and grow into the
digital arena. If that should happen it is lose/lose for all
parties. Our friends in the radio promotions departments are
usually as far as I can get up the food chain at a record
label. They need to try and get our message up that food
chain. I understand that puts them in an uncomfortable spot,
but their job is to be the liaison between the label and radio.
We need that to be a two-way street since they are our only
touch point with the labels. For many stations there is a lot
We also need to address the "wall of sound" that seems to have
taken over as the new production/mastering standard of the
industry. Songs with little or no dynamic range left because
they have been pushed to digital zero are slowly killing all of
us. The fatiguing "wall of sound" costs radio through listener
tune-out and could ultimately have a negative impact on music
sales. If her favorite song also makes her ears bleed every
time she hears it on the air, her passion level to buy it has
got to be reduced. Kudos to the labels who have already
acknowledged this issue. Many have tried to come up with less
smashed or unmastered versions of certain songs. But for this
battle to be won, the issue needs to be addressed in the
recording studio sessions before mixing and mastering ever
begins. An unmastered version of a song whose tracks were all
recorded pushed to digital zero is just a quieter version of the
same fatiguing "wall of sound." The distortion, if it appears
on the original recorded track, is irreversible after the fact
at any level.
8. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing
Christian radio today?
Royalties, remaining live and local in the face of shrinking
revenue/donations and increasing consumer media choices
9. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian
radio air personality?
To live out our life and faith transparently on the air in ways
that are relevant to 'Kate.' Christian music radio can seize
this moment in radio history with genuine live, local
personalities up against the generic, voice tracked landscape
that radio has become in most markets.
10. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
There are innovators (creating something new, untried) and
strategists (experts in growing and guiding something into the
future). At most successful stations you see a combination of
the two... a strategist who is smart enough to surround him or
herself with some innovators. Some people/stations who fit that
description in my mind include Jon Hull/KSBJ, Tom Greene/WMIT,
Ty McFarland/KLove, Tate Luck, John Frost and Alan Mason.
Want to put your big toe into the waters of innovation? Invest
in your air talent by hiring a talent coach like Tommy Kramer.
For many stations that would be something new and untried which
could pay huge returns for your station (and the
11. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Stations of any format that are live, local and relevant to
their market will gain ground. Those that follow in the
footsteps of corporate, consolidated radio will lose ground and
disappear into irrelevancy.