1. Tell us about your
market and how it is unique?
Huntsville has had
several Christian music stations in the past 5 or 10
years, but they were both sold to mainstream
companies. So, when WAY-FM came in to the market
with a full-power station a year and a half ago,
people were starving for it. That hunger really
helped us start off on the right foot. Also,
Huntsville is home to NASA and a ton of other tech
companies, which means that weíre flooded with young
families who have moved here from other parts of the
country. Itís a Southern town full of Northerners
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you
personally about Christian radio?
Thatís easy Ė changed
lives. And not just in the salvation sense, though
thatís certainly important, but in the day to day
sense. Christian music has the power to offer hope
and encouragement when life gets tough. Other
formats donít do that. We hear from people every
day who have been touched in one way or another by
something theyíve heard on WAY-FM. Knowing that
somehow, in some small way, Iím a part of helping
people make it through their day is pretty cool. I
canít imagine doing anything else.
3. How has God used you in your role at WAY FM?
God has given me the
gift of creativity (though my parents didnít exactly
call it a ďgiftĒ growing up), and WAY-FM has been
the perfect outlet for that. The goal isnít to be
crazy or silly or stupid, but memorable. Though
that can be a fine line to walk, I think weíve done
that really well so far. There are so many facets
to what WAY-FM does too (on-air, website,
newsletter, concerts, etc.) that this crazy amount
of creativity has a bunch of outlets Ė which is
nice. Iím also a very relational person, and it has
been crucial to our success that we develop as many
relationships as possible, both on the air and off.
Relationships equal emotional connections, and
emotional connections win every timeÖespecially in a
format where women are the target.
4. What kind of
promotions work best for your station?
By far, the most
successful things weíve done have been community
focused instead of station or prize focused.
Community-based promotions do several things that
giveaways (trips, tickets, etc.) donít. First, the
station and our listeners get to be involved in
something positive for our area. Second, everyone
feels like a winner afterward. If my major Spring
promotion was giving away a trip, every listener
(except for one) would feel disappointed when the
contest was over. Instead, thousands of people feel
good about helping people in need, and, better yet,
they credit the radio station for that feeling.
Finally, local television stations and newspapers
love to cover ďfeel-goodĒ stories. We recently had
every major TV network
Huntsville Times at one of our promotions! If your
goal is to get your station in front of as many
people as possible and then leave them with a
positive impression of you, this is a great way to
your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing
Christian radio today?
My dad is a pastor,
and itís amazing how many parallels can be drawn
between the problems that churches face and the
problems that Christian radio encounters. The main
one is the seeker-friendly vs. ministry-minded
debate. Do you pick one strategy? Try both? Try
different things in different
dayparts? Itís tough to fill people
spiritually without turning off seekers. On the
flip side, itís hard to cater to non-Christians
without leaving the rest of your audience feeling
empty. Bill Hybels and
Willow Creek Church in Chicago have figured this
out, and Christian radio stations must
do the same. Hybels
has several great books (Courageous
Leadership would be an example) that
apply to radio stations too!
6. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality today?
Our role is to provide
compelling content that meets the listener where she
is, upholds her values, and involves her community.
That role is essentially the same for every air
personality (Christian or not), though the methods
can obviously be very different. With satellite
radio, MP3 players, and the internet vying for our
audience now, community involvement and focus has to
become increasingly important.
7. What (if any) other Christian radio stations do
you consider as innovators today?
The other stations in
WAY-FMís network. Am I allowed to say that?! I
know Iím a bit biased, but Iím constantly amazed at
the incredible creativity and consistent focus that
our other stations have. Itís nice to work with
such a great team of people.
8. Where do you
see Christian radio in 5 years?
Thatís a pretty tough
call to make, but hereís a guess. Weíre starting to
see a ton of crossover artists, and I donít think
thatís going to change anytime soon. The good news
is that Christian music is finally being recognized
by the mainstream world. However, if this trend
continues, the problem will be differentiating our
stations from the competition. Already WAY-FM is
Orrico, and Jars of Clay
with several other stations in the market, and in
five years it could be a whole lot more than that.
Christian radio has succeeded many places simply
because itís different musically. If those lines
continue to blur, many stations are going to have to
step up their programming, promotions, and talent in
order to survive. Weíve already seen this trend
with Christian retailers. Wal-mart
has put a lot of local stores out of business
because they offer the same CDís and books but at
better prices. Christian radio would be naÔve to
think that the same thing wonít happen to us.