I'm pretty much a
Michigan boy. Started at a NAC/AAA hybrid in Lansing (WLNZ
FM), moved on to do country at WBHR in Lansing, which got
bought and changed to WXIK (but stayed country). Did LOTS of
swing for WBCT Grand Rapids, also country, while at WXIK. Then
my first stint here at WLGH as afternoon guy and
imaging/production. Left in summer of 1999 for mainstream CHR
WHZZ in Lansing.
Did nights and promotions there. Started doing some APD work
for a mainstream CHR internet start up, but it stalled. Then
on to WKQI in Detroit for swing and weekend stuff. Late in
2000, I returned to WLGH as PD and morning guy. About 2 months
into this job, I left WKQI because it's hard to be a
PD/morning guy AND have another weekend job. Now I'm HAPPILY
doing afternoons and spending time with my wife for the first
time since we got married :-).
1. What is the most challenging aspect of programming
a Christian radio station today?
Keeping your station fresh, compelling, relevant,
entertaining, and meaningful all at once. It's rare that I
feel our station is accomplishing all of those things all the
2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you
personally about Christian radio?
I honestly used to view it as just another format, like
Country or CHR. After 9/11/2001, it was painfully obvious how
much more stations like ours can offer people. Knowing that
our team plays a part in that is fulfilling. And being
surrounded by people who aren't driven by the same things
normally driven by in mainstream formats to a point that
nobody else matters is very nice.
3.How is the role of a Christian radio PD different
I think for most stations, it's simply the number of "hats
we wear." I currently do an afternoon show, all music and
research tasks, most production, all imaging, all traffic, and
a few other misc. odds and ends. And that's about average for
many Christian radio PDs'. Unfortunately that's also becoming
more common in mainstream too. Aside from that, Christian
radio programmers not only have to find a musical common
ground for their target, but a spiritual one too. No
mainstream programmer will get overly concerned about whether
or not they are alienating members of a certain denomination,
or putting too much attention on another. The spiritual
aspect of their station's content is much more in the
background of their overall sound if it's even there at all.
With us, it defines who we are to our listeners even more than
4. What is the typical day like in the life of a
Christian radio programmer?
I'm sure it varies from person to person. But I'll bet
most weekdays are no shorter than 10 hours for most.
5. Do the same programming principles and basics
apply to CCM radio as
Good radio is good radio. We are working in formats that
reflect directly on God. God is superior to ANYTHING else that
ever existed. His stations should sound superior to ANY other
stations that ever existed. He is excellent and we should
reflect that without making excuses or rationalizing why we
can't. Apart from my super-spiritual speak, CCM formats STILL
have to battle the "hymns and preaching" stereotypes that
exist. If a potential listener finds an AC or CHR station for
the first time and that station doesn't have the basics down,
the stereotype continues. We MUST always be on the top of our
game. Mistakes will happen because we are human; but as long
as we never stop striving to master the basics and build on
them, we'll be in good shape.
6. When searching for new CCM radio on air talent
what do you look for?
The right kind of attitude, personality, and a willingness
to take ownership of the position. Potential will usually win
over experience. Humility, insatiable curiosity, and a desire
to grow from within.
7. How can Christian record labels better serve
I want to create more memories for my listeners. Winning a
CD a week before it's in stores is sort of memorable. Getting
a phone call from the artist who's CD it is is REAL
memorable. Winning a vacation that includes one-on-one time
with an artist is MUCH more memorable than winning a trip to
see their concert from the 55th row. I'd love to see labels
partner more with stations not typically in their comfort zone
to create these memories. I realize it's smart to go where
you know you'll get results, yet risk is always required for
rewards and more growth.
8. What type of promotions do your listeners respond
The community service aspect of our promotions this year
has been mind-blowing. Our listeners more than tripled how
many clothes they provided in our annual clothing drive for
Ukraine. (71 TONS of clothes this fall vs. 20-ish tons last
fall). Their willingness to help in local food and toy drives
has also been extraordinary. They still call to win concert
tix, music, etc. But there are days where we get more calls
from people looking to help somebody than there are requests
or people wanting to win something. I can't remember it being
that way when I worked here the first time or when I came back
two years ago. I think 9/11 has something to do with it; and
we've worked harder at making these promotions stand out.
9. What other Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
I'm never able to keep up with them the way I'd like to.
WONU in Chicago comes to mind, WUFM in Columbus, KXOJ, KSBJ
and The Fish format in general. I've been able to follow
Atlanta's and Chicago's Fish more than the rest. I selfishly
think we (WLGH) innovate a bit :-); and I think most stations
in the CHR format are making leaps and bounds of progress in
learning about their listeners and finding unique ways to
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
I see ACs' continuing to thrive and sign on. I'd like to
say the same for CHR, but we don't have a lot of high profile
or large market stations potential owners can look at as a
reference point. There isn't a quintessential "Fish" or "KSBJ"
that defines the CHR format...yet! Overall, Christian radio
in 5 years will be one of radio's few successful genres as
long as more stations keep researching their listeners and
market and properly applying what they learn, and as long as
we keep our priorities in the right order.