Bills' Career Capsule
Began working as a radio
commercial copywriter in 1982. In Columbus and central Ohio
worked at WMVO, WSYX, WCKX, WRFD,and WTLT (light rock, country,
news/talk, agricultural, and CCM). In Chicago at WONU (Shine 89.7)
since February of 1991. Have had jobs ranging from copywriter,
sales, every airshift imaginable, program director, station
manager...to even helicopter traffic reporter! I'm presently
station manager/morning host at WONU.
1. How did you know without a doubt
God wanted to use you in Christian radio ?
I grew up listening to top 40 AM
radio. As a kid in Ohio I listened to WCFL AM 1000 and WLS at
night. I LOVED pop music and the personalities. I was the kind
of kid that could give you any artist, song and album title, and
chart position in any given week.
In junior high I knew I wanted to be a DJ. I attended a Christian
college and at that time I was introduced to contemporary
Christian music (Dallas Holm, The Archers, The Imperials, etc.).
The thought struck me...what if you could play great Christian
music like that an a station as fun and well formatted as a WCFL
or WLS? I knew that it would be a station with a big impact. It
became my passion and call into this format.
2. There's three fulltime
contemporary Christian music stations in Chicago, do you feel you
all are competitors..... and why do you think Chicago can support
actually have 4 full-time CCM stations in this market(WONU, The
Fish, WCFL, and K-Love)and WMBI has evolved into a very soft CCM
over the past year or so. I would venture to say that Chicago is
the most competitive CCM market in the country.
I'll be honest, it isn't an easy market to pitch your tent and
raise your flag. In smaller markets where you're the "only game
in town" it's far easier to gain a larger share of the audience.
Chicago is a world class city that offers every diversion and
entertainment known to man. There is great radio here (aside from
Christian) and the audience expectations are high because they are
exposed to such tremendous entertainment choices.
The saving grace here is that there are so many people! The
question is not are there enough listeners to support all the
stations. The question is, who can market effectively enough to
attract enough of the right audience. I try to spend more time
innovating and creating opportunites to generate more listeners
rather than worry about the other stations (although they do cross
my mind from time to time :-)).
3. What do you think are the
advantages / disadvantages of being a non-com station?
It's kind of funny. The first 11
years of my career were in commercial radio and I thought I would
NEVER work in non-comm. radio. I thought the idea of a fundraiser
was humorous. Now that I'm in it I LOVE it! I don't look at it
all that differently. It's still all about sales. If I'm not
selling commercial time I'm selling businesses and individuals on
the reasons they should invest in the radio station. We still
look for and develop alternative revenue streams. I really do
believe there are more similarities than differences.
4. What is your most memorable
moment of touching someone personally while on the air?
Years ago there was a woman who
used to call the studio line of a station I worked at and ask for
me to remember her in prayer because she had been diagnosed with
cancer. She would call from time to time to check in and then the
calls stopped. I didn't know what had happened but assumed the
worst. Years later while working at another radio station I was
at a station event and was approached by a woman. She introduced
herself and it was the same woman I had talked to years earlier
and she was now cancer free. It's wonderful to be able to make
those kind of connections.
5. What in your opinion is the biggest change in Christian
radio the last few years ?
Better formatted stations,
better music, and Salem's entrance into the CCM market. There are
many more CCM stations, creating more competition, more networking
and utltimately a better product.