Began my career in radio at WBML, a
small Gospel station in Macon, Georgia in 1978. It is the same
station where Little Richard recorded his first song. Worked in
Country, Rock & Mainstream A/C. Had a love for CCM since early
70's especially after seeing Keith Green in concert. Hosted a
Sunday Morning CCM show, "Visions," for 7 years (1985 -1993) on
mainstream Sunny 107.9 (WBCY) in hometown of Charlotte, NC.
(Garnered a 20 Share 12+) Managed the switch of secular to
Christian format on 3 stations, WRNA, WDEX, WTYC. (All are still
Christian) Built, introduced and managed CCM station WNOW in
Charlotte in 1985. In 1993, built and introduced WRCM (New Life
91.9) in Charlotte. It came on the air with a 2.4 share. General
Manager of WRCM until 1999. Joined His Radio Network (RTN) in
1999 and became Director Of Network Operations. Have helped in
the expansion from 6 frequencies to 26. Also serve as Operations
Director inside His Radio Flagship station, WLFJ.
1. What events led you to your
current position at His Radio?
In 1999, I left
WRCM in Charlotte to take a position at His Radio. Originally, I
was to help get a 50,000 watt AM station on the air in
Greenville SC and then put WLFS-FM on the air in Savannah,
Georgia. The plan was for me to stay in Savannah and manage
WLFS. Jim Campbell, Radio Training Network president, had a
heart attack in the spring of 2000 while we were preparing to
put WLFS on the air. Jim asked that I stay in Greenville and
assist he and Allen Henderson, our network manager. My family
has loved Greenville so we welcomed the opportunity to put roots
2. What's a typical day like in the
life of Ken Mayfield?
If I am in the
office and not traveling to one of our stations, our day begins
with staff devotions. Each day is very different but on Mondays
I meet with Rob Dempsey, our PD, and Dwayne Corn, our Promotions
Director to discuss upcoming events and promotions. Each week, I
meet with our chief engineer to discuss projects; Rob, to
discuss music and station imaging and I meet with Allen to give
Right now, our
team is working on upgrading 3 of our stations and the
acquisition of another. That alone can keep you very busy.
3. What is the
one station promotion/event that you have been most blessed by?
That's easy. This
past March, I traveled to Angola Prison along with other guys
from RTN (Steve Swanson, Jerry Williams, Ben Birdsong, Jeremy
Daley & Rob Dempsey) to conduct an on-air fundraiser from inside
the prison radio station. Their existing equipment was old, mono
and only functioned part of the time.
With over 5,000
inmates, Angola is the largest maximum-security prison in the
US. 100 are on death row there. These guys need and count on
this station. It programs Christian music about 90% of the time
and is totally run by inmates. Prentice, the inmate in charge of
the station has been ordained by New Orleans Baptist Theological
Seminary since they now have an Angola extension. Three other
inmates that work inside the station also have graduated from
the seminary. The warden calls these graduates his inmate
We had a goal of
$80,000 in three hours to rebuild the only prison radio station
in the nation. We had met the goal within two hours and the
final tally was $124,000. Since then 98% of what was pledged has
come in. I traveled back to Angola with our engineer last month
(August 2002) and we installed a brand new PR&E control board
and a whole studio of new toys, a new Harris transmitter and
exciter, as well as a new microwave system. In addition, were
able to leave 3 remote systems so that the services from the new
Baptist Chapel will be carried live each week. Every man in the
prison will now hear the Gospel. Working with the warden, who is
a Christian, we will go back every six months to maintain the
equipment and train their on-air guys. Building relationships
with these inmates and helping them has been one of the most
memorable events of my life.
4. How would you
compare the "state" of Christian radio today to 5 years ago?
I am very
optimistic about our impact and direction. It has been good to
see Christian radio break the '3.0 ratings ceiling.' Our
Greenville station received a 6.2 in the fall ratings. We are
often #1, 2 or 3 in our target group for women. I think this is
incredible since we also have to compromise the 'local' for the
regional network approach. I've seen many other stations grow by
leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. I think the
product is better, meaning the stations' delivery and the music
seems to be improving. The things that are holding us back are
the things we refuse to let go of such as block programming.
Many stations still seem to be stuck in the 70's thinking that
it doesn't hurt us.
5. How did your
passion for Christian radio develop?
who is now a partner with Vallie-Richards Consulting, was my
program director for a few years when I worked at Sunny 107.9 in
Charlotte. I think I introduced CCM to him and he introduced
great programming concepts to me. The station dominated
Charlotte's ratings during his tenure. I learned a great deal
listening to his critiques and watching him program the station.
My passion for Christian radio to be better than any station in
town grew out of that friendship.
6. In your opinion
what is the biggest "misconception that CCM labels have of CCM
At one time, I
think that the labels thought that Christian radio had no impact
at all. To further that mindset, Jars Of Clay came along and
sold a zillion records without much help from Christian Radio. I
first heard Butterfly Kisses at GMA week and told Bob Carlisle
the next morning that I thought that it would be the biggest hit
ever for Christian music to then see only half of Christian
radio even add it. I thought, "Boy, I really missed that one!"
The label had it right but it took mainstream stations adding
the song and playing the hound out of it before Christian radio
realized we had missed an exclusive on "the big one."
then, I think many stations have improved greatly. The music has
gotten better and has been exposed to the community through more
avenues such as Time/Life's Worship series advertised so heavily
on TV. Wal-Mart's expanded selection has helped. The fact that
you can hear Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Schultz, Nicole C.
Mullen and other CCM played over Way-Mart's in-store radio
doesn't hurt. In addition, I think we're getting better at
recognizing the big songs such as "Redeemer" and "I Can Only
don't know that the labels really have any 'misconceptions' of
Christian radio. What I have noticed the last few years is that
many of the label people really try hard to understand why we do
what we do. Why we add this song or drop that one before we
should have. I have watched label people sit in on our seminars
at NCRS or Atlanta and learn the best way to help us succeed. I
have had label people even challenge me on songs. I don't mind.
We should have defensible reasons for what we do anyway.
7. What in your
opinion is the primary role of the Christian radio air
To be compelling!
I love the story of baseball great, Lou Gehrig. Someone asked
him why he played so hard every time he took the field in spite
of the fact that he played with broken bones and constant back
spasms. He made the statement that he knew that every time he
took the field, there was always someone there in the stands
seeing him play for the very first time and he couldn't let them
Every time we
turn on the mic, there is someone listening for the very first
time. We can let them down! Be compelling!
8. What advice could
you give to a young person wanting to start a career
in Christian radio?
Three things come
to mind -
Make your relationship with
Jesus first and foremost. God's Word says that the steps of a
righteous man are ordered of the Lord. Ask Him for guidance
and he'll give it.
Do whatever it takes. Volunteer
to come in at 2 in the morning if the PD will let you do an
air shift then. Work weekends. Take out the trash; just show
an attitude of persistence, excitement, humility, and a
willingness to work hard. We have too many new people that
think they should start on the morning drive.
Find people who are good at
their craft (Christian radio) and pick their brain. Take them
to lunch. Ask them if you can call them for advice every now
and then. I had one guy that was very good at doing this. I
hired Joe Paulo at WRCM in 1993 as a board operator. He was
always willing to do any job that needed doing. Literally. He
washed the gutters of the station and did the weed eating if
necessary. I loved Joe's attitude. Initially, I wouldn't allow
him to talk on the air. Eventually he did the weather and then
some voices on production. After that, he took over the
production department and produced some of the best image
spots I had ever heard. He improved on the air and moved from
evenings to afternoons and eventually became a part of the
morning team. When my program director left to manage another
station, I finally promoted Joe to PD. Here's the kicker. When
I left WRCM in 1999, I recommended that Joe be considered for
my replacement. The comment was made that he had not been in
radio long enough. I told the guy I was talking to, " You
don't know Joe very well. Give him an opportunity, he won't
let you down." It took them a few months but Joe was promoted
to Station Manager and has done an incredible job. I am very
proud of him. Be that way and God will use you and promote you
in His time.
NOTE TO RADIO
VETERANS - Find someone YOU can mentor! This industry needs
God-loving people to help younger ones be great at Christian