in broadcasting while in high school and followed it up with
obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Radio TV/Film at the University of
Wisconsin at Oshkosh. First paid radio gig was with
WMKC-Oshkosh(home of the great ones, playing Adult Contemporary pop
music in 1978, followed by weekends at WHBY-Appleton 1979-1980
(news/talk), then to WEMI in 1981 and I have been here ever since.
Began as part-timer, eventually was music director, production
director, program director, operations director and more.
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
always trying to keep the main thing the main thing. Remember it’s
not about me. Being willing to take time to pray for the needs of
others is another way to keep the focus on ministry as it is the
needs of others, not ones self.
2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years
Better stations, better sound, better music. Having been involved
since 1981 it has gone from 2 stations in the market to 8 with a
“religious” format, listeners have more to chose from and we have to
do the best job at putting out great radio. Also see more focus on
what the listener wants via research.
3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s
Christian radio PD?
Today’s PD needs to be flexible and focused on following through on
the stations mission statement and looking for ways to meet that
mission. Need to listen to what other stations are doing in and out
of the market and see if things they are doing might also be
something our listeners would benefit from.
4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your
me personally, the big question is: Is it a great song? There are
a lot of good songs, but is the song one that you find yourself
singing or wanting to hear again? Our music director is looking for
production quality that is equal to what is airing or better, solid
lyrics that may be vertically or horizontally focused, biblically
sound and is it a hit?
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
found that partnerships with organizations in our communities work
best. For example, our recent Help for the Homeless campaign had us
partnering with homeless coalitions in a 6 county area and by
working with them, we were able to collect over $73,000 worth of
toiletries and cleaning supplies that benefited 33 different groups
working with those in need. We are always looking for something
that the listener would consider relevant and something that they
could easily be a part of. Focus is usually not on us, but others
and that seems to be best.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve
in touch. As we have moved from an Insp format to AC, we have
noticed that there is not as much tracking being done by some
companies. If the record labels need something from us, we’d like
to know so that we can continue to work together as we have for over
30 years. Have radio music director’s help in the selection of
songs that the labels release. It used to be you could go 4 to 5
songs deep on a release, now it is only about 2. I would think
working the release a bit longer would benefit all.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
Acceptance. I believe that we as an industry are putting out better
Christian radio today than ever before, yet the overall numbers of
people that are listening are not all that much better than they
were 10 or more years ago. Finding a way to make radio listeners
want to listen to our stations is a huge challenge and while we want
to give them what they want, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they
will tune in because we provide it. Another obstacle is us.
Sometimes we get in the way of God working through our stations and
rather than seeking Him, we sometimes ask others for direction. Not
that counsel isn’t good, but we need to seek the Master, first.
Another would be a lack of “great artists/bands.” Now, don’t get me
wrong, but if you were asked to name the top 5 artists/bands in our
format today, you could no doubt do that. What about 10 more?
Okay, you may get 5. There are many good ones, but they don’t have
that name recognition or discography depth that we have had in prior
years. I confirmed my thoughts as I chatted with a guitarist from
Mercy Me about this scenario (when they were in town less than 2
weeks ago) and he could name off 5 quickly as well as about 5 others
and then he stated that “there are about 500 others” that would fall
into the good category. We have a group of very recognizable
artists/bands, but we need to grow others into that arena. Finally,
new radio talent. We need to search for, coach, cultivate and
release new talent to make us all better!
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio
encourage, to inspire and to entertain. 75% encouragement &
inspiration and 25% entertainment.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
that are willing to try things that are out of the box. WPOZ, KSBJ
& WCSG are a couple that come to mind. There are others as well but
I am sure we aren’t as aware of them.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
similar question was posed to me by one of our staff members when we
got notice that CCM magazine was going to internet only. He was
wondering if that was going to happen to radio. Declining
circulation, increased costs etc. That combined with dropping
product sales at area Christian bookstores and still not real great
widespread acceptance or recognition of Christian artists. I see
Christian radio being less focused on the label “Christian” and more
focused on providing a great message for those that tune in to the
station. Still vertically focused via music and select programming,
but also relating to their audience in a horizontal fashion, seeking
to connect and stay connected. Much more use of research, better
use of listener database and possibly even more niche marketed than
we currently are, but doing a better job of marketing our stations
to reach people where they are.