Jenn started out in 1984 while still in high school working for
the cable public access TV station. Then interned at WMUZ and
WCSX in Detroit and WWCM in Ypsilant. During college worked for
Family Life Radio in Midland and after college served at KRSA in
Petersburg, Alaska. Then in 1996 everything changed when she
and Ed started their own station, WLGH in Lansing, MI, then
known as 88.1 The Light.
1. How has WLGH evolved over
the last few years?
WLGH is the flagship station for the
Smile FM Radio Network. We have grown from 1 station in 1996 to
18 stations as of today. Really today, 11/17 our new station in
Hart, MI is going on the air! In 2004 we combined our AC & CHR
formats and launched Smile FM (hot AC). Since then we have been
busy improving and refining our product. We are also preparing
for the launch of several new Smile stations in 2011 including
one serving Metro Detroit! We also continue to pioneer the use
of new and open platform technology making it easier to better
serve our listeners. This has included a partnership with the
National Weather Service which allows our stations to alert
listeners to severe weather situations significantly faster than
we could do utilizing just the required EAS equipment.
2. Has WLGH made any changes
due to economic situation, been affected in any way?
It seems like the economic crash
happened earlier for us than hit the economy at large, 2006 was
a really tough year for us financially. Since then we have had
to "work" much harder for the money. We have always tried to
operate Smile FM more as a regular non-profit focusing on
quarterly fund raising goals and initiatives rather than just
relying on an annual sharathon. That has helped us to bring the
need in front of people more often and return to higher levels
of support. Those challenging days reconfirmed our commitment to
stay as debt free as possible and build and expand as God
provides. Dave Ramsey would approve!.
3. How does WLGH connect
locally with markets?
We work hard to have representation
in each market we serve. We get invited to hundreds of local
events each year and try to get to as many as possible with our
on air, promotions staff and of course our street team. We just
added our first community relations position to help us better
meet the need. Smile FM, while technically a Michigan based
radio network, works very hard to sound local in each market. We
do that using technology to program local weather, news and
community info for each station EVERY hour. It's a ton more work
for our staff and tech department, but it helps us stay on the
cutting edge of community service. In the past few years we have
also began to restart our concert & event efforts, trying to
bring smaller artists and tours through to each market to make
them relevant to all of our listeners and not just those in
4. What criteria do you
require for a song to be played on your station?
Being called Smile FM, we definitely
love the happy songs. But most importantly songs that will
connect and encourage our listeners in whatever they are going
5. What kind of promotions
work best for Christian radio?
I think we are always torn between
the promotions we have to do and the ones we want to do! We have
to help promote concerts and events and make them sound fun and
exciting, because lives are changed at those events. At Smile FM
we want to spend more time focusing on promotions that encourage
our listeners to make a difference and that really connect with
them. We're excited about our Smiles4Christmas promotion that
connects families that need Christmas gifts for their kids with
other listeners in their community who can meet those needs. One
to one connections sharing the love of Christ!
6. How do you think Christian
Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
I think it would be super helpful if
they would send me an e-mail the day before tracking day to
remind me what they're going to ask about the next day! It's a
lot to keep track of! Other than that, we do love it when they
bring new artists by so we can get to know them before we play
their music. It helps us better share their stories and connect
with them when they come back through for shows.
7. In your opinion what are
the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
Wow, that's a tough one. We could
focus on the economy, lack of money, lack of staffing, but all
of those obstacles can be overcome through great leadership.
Leaders can inspire volunteers to help with the load. Leaders
can foresee the economic challenges and adjust the plans
accordingly. We need to do a better job of training, inspiring
and equipping great leaders at our stations and in our industry.
8. What do you believe is the
primary role of the Christian radio air personality?
I think its our job to be in tune
with the buzz and reflect back what our listeners are talking
about, thinking about, scared about, but to give it back to them
with God's perspective. I'm so amazed it's the little and
mundane things that I share about my life that people come up
and talk to me about at events. In such a connected world,
people have never felt so isolated and alone. If we do our jobs
well, we can really make a difference in someone's life, let
them know they are not in this alone.
9. What (if any) Christian
radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
I love what WPOZ in Orlando is doing
in terms of public service and emergency management. Even their
back ups have back ups! You can't serve your listeners in an
emergency if you're not on the air!
10. Where do you see Christian
radio in 5 years?
I think the lines between Christian
radio and Christian music is going to blur even more than it is
today. And if handled well, it can be a great opportunity to
reach a bigger audience. The downside is it will be harder to
avoid becoming like the world, rather than remaining a light in