Malachi got his start in radio at Arkansas news talk station, KUOA.
After working his way up and gaining sales experience, Malachi was
then recruited by KLRC-Fayetteville, Arkansas to serve as the
afternoon drive host and later added promotions and underwriting
duties. Malachi has also served at The Joy FM network in Florida as
the Director of Business and Ministry Development. He recently
joined Spring Arbor University in Michigan to serve as General
Manager of the SAU Radio network that includes Christian CHR station
89.9 The VIBE and signature station HOME.fm, which offers a blended
format of both Christian and mainstream music.
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
The two are intertwined. Without the ministry most of us wouldn’t
be driven to do what we do on a daily basis, however without the
business side of things to providing funding there would be no
2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years
The standard of the music we play has been raised. The overall
quality of what’s being written and produced has greatly improved.
We’ve also seen tremendous growth within the format. Five years ago
we didn’t have the larger corporations flipping their struggling
stations to be a CCM. That’s a huge compliment to what we as an
industry have accomplished. It’s also a dose of healthy competition
for us to use as motivation to continue to improve on what we’re
3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s
Christian radio PD?
I would say many of our PD's are being pulled too many directions
which is causing confusion of what their role truly is.
Expectations and job responsibilities should be re-evaluated so that
the program director can get back to working on the programming and
the overall sound of the station. How many stations are really
spending enough time with their air talent to air check and work on
improvement and development? The finger shouldn’t be pointed
anywhere we just need to make sure that we are correctly
prioritizing and placing importance on what’s coming out of the
4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your
Since HOME.fm is a unique format that plays both mainstream and
Christian music our criteria is that both the song and artist are
something that we feel comfortable endorsing. We have the ability
to play the best of the different formats since we’re pulling from
different genres. It frees us up from feeling as though we have to
settle on a song and provides enormous flexibility.
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
In my experience the promotions that work best are those that
provide an experience and that also can create an opportunity for
the whole listening audience to get involved
and be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves. The best
example of that is what The Joy FM did a couple years back with
their 20 Wishes Promotion to commemorate their 20th
anniversary. By taking nominations for what the listeners wishes
would be the station was able to connect different listeners
together to help grant the wish. Dentists, store owners, and stay
at home moms were all able to contribute to making an impact in
someone else’s life. People are looking for ways to help, but often
they aren’t provided a tangible way to do so. Needless to say, the
20 Wishes Promotion was hugely successful and is still something
that the listeners in Florida talk about.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve
I believe that both music labels and radio need to take a page out
of Steve Jobs books and start operating by a different business
model. Everyone in radio is rooting for the music labels and I know
we are all here to help them in any way we can. We’ve all felt the
technology crunch that’s been created over the last few years by the
evolution of Apple and the way they’ve revolutionized the way people
listen and purchase their music. I don’t pretend to know all of the
answers for them to turn things around and I know that there are
some great minds working for our Christian labels. However, I know
that we all have an effect on the overall success of each other and
we are in a bit of a regression. If the music labels continue to
struggle then we as a radio industry will feel that impact. We work
hand in hand on a daily basis and our individual success rides on
the success of each other.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
We need to continue to have an open mind about change. We’ve
experienced a lot of change over the last few years and we will
continue to need to be ready to evolve with the way people listen to
radio and music in general. The bar continues to be raised as
listeners becoming more selective as a result of technology
providing more avenues for listening to music.
Also, talent is becoming more of an issue. I agree that there are
fewer up and coming radio professionals, but as someone who is still
in their 20s and not far removed from the age of making a career
decision I know that there is still some appeal to working in
radio. We as a radio industry have to be more flexible in how we
recruit and train the new talent and even our existing pool.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio
To be natural while being entertaining. The best personalities are
very conversational and they don’t come across as just a “DJ.” The
music is what’s going to drive the station, but when talking with
listeners many of us have found how important our on-air
personalities are to our core listeners. Good on-air talent has the
ability to connect with the listener on a personal level that
furthers the loyal factor that we all hope to obtain when building
the listener relationship.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
I think we have a lot of great stations in smaller markets. For
example, KLRC in the Fayetteville, Arkansas market consistently
ranks in the top 3-4 stations in a very competitive and rapidly
growing market. Sean Sawatzky has grown the station from being a
small town college radio station into a 3-time Dove Award Winning
Shine FM in Bourbonnais, Illinois has grown by leaps and bounds over
the last few years. Justin Knight and his staff are some of the
most innovative thinkers in our industry.
I would be remise if I didn’t also mention my former station The Joy
FM as well. They are one of the strongest stations promotionally
that you’ll find.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
I hope we are setting the bar for how to do radio for the other
genres. Christian radio has the ability to expand and develop since
we pull in one of the most loyal audiences out of any genre of
radio. I hope we are continuing to seek how to improve and evolve
as technology and listening trends develop and change.