I’ve worked in Christian radio now for the past ten years in
Washington, DC doing mornings, afternoons and mid-days (well just
about every airshift possible) at WGTS. I was the Production
Director for 5 years and for the past year and a half have been the
Music Director. I’ve had the privilege of working with top national
consultants like Alan Mason, John Frost and Tommy Kramer who have
given me an invaluable amount of knowledge and funny jokes.
Following the Columbia Shuttle tragedy in 2003, I had the
opportunity to create a remix of MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine,
which got airplay on stations all across the country and sent to the
families of the astronauts and the White House.
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
Our radio station is really like a family. We look out for one
another and treat each other with respect. I don’t look at the
people I work with as “colleagues” but as friends. And that
atmosphere conveys itself over the air, too. We’ve even had people
who have worked for other Christian stations tell us they really
feel as though we focus more on the ministry than just the business.
And that’s really our goal every day.
2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years
I believe we’ve raised the bar for the standard of music we play.
Much of that is in part to the fact that we know better what our
listener wants through research and the labels/artists have
responded in part. More stations are limiting the number of currents
they play to give listeners more time to become familiar with the
songs and expose them to potential P1’s.
3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s
Christian radio PD?
I’ve had the privilege of working with some terrific PD’s and one
thing I’ve learned from them is that it’s very important to gain the
trust of your staff. Trust is never given, it’s earned. I look at
the way Jesus led and he was always working on gaining the trust of
his disciples. A Christian PD works the same way.
4. What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your
Our criteria mixes science & art. We have to be pretty certain that
playing a new song is worth the risk since unfamiliar music is the
biggest turn off to listeners. So we look at scores, but we also
have to judge it based upon its message (does it hit on the beliefs
& values of our listeners?) and the overall musicality of the
song—will it blend in or stick out? Do we even want it to blend in
too well? The song needs to be memorable so people will have a
reason to come back to it.
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
The ones in which the best stories can be told. It’s all about
sharing our stories and touching and reaching others. It’s not about
‘us’. Make it about the listener and you’ll win just about every
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve
Music is the price of admission to our radio station and when that
music strikes a chord with the listeners, they feel that they know
the artist on a personal level. However, it seems that so many of
today’s artists are “protected” by their tour managers and such to
the point where it’s very difficult to gain access to them. Whether
that’s a quick interview backstage or dropping by the station; our
listeners want to know their favorite artists better. Also, there
are ways we can work on making it easier to get promotional product
from the labels to the stations without all the rigmarole we’re put
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
Unfamiliar music. The overall general public still has no idea who
Casting Crowns, MercyMe or Chris Tomlin is. So building recognition
among even our most core artists is still absolutely necessary if
we’re going to convert P2’s & P3’s into P1 listeners. We’re doing
better than we were, but we still have a ways to go.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio
To entertain. I know, I used a very un-couth word in the Christian
business. But if it’s not entertaining (even in regards to spiritual
issues) there’s no reason to expect listeners to stick around to
hear it. It’s just a matter of finding that right camera angle that
will grab her attention and touch her heart.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
The funny thing is, there used to only be a handful of stations just
a couple of years ago, but fortunately the number is on the rise. I
tend to look to stations like KCMS, WPOZ & WAWZ as inspiration. But
I’m very proud that WGTS has really come into its own recently.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
Hopefully, if we stay on track, most stations will have doubled
their listenership as we familiarize our music to more people. And
my real hope is that we can break into more ‘secular’ markets,
outside of the Bible-belt; like Boston or San Francisco for example.
This would greatly increase our awareness to others.