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Radio Interview

                                     

Malachi Crane

General Manager

SAU Radio

Spring Arbor, MI

 

 

Malachi's Career Capsule
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.

 

1. 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 ministry. 

 

2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?

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 doing. 

 

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 speakers.

 

4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?

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 Christian radio?

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 radio today?

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 air personality?

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 innovators today?

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 station. 

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.

 

 

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