Like a lot of us radio guys, I started hanging
out at the local radio station as a teenager. My very first
airshift was at summer camp at the Hastings YMCA Camp in Lake
Villa, Illinois When I was 12. The camp operated a low power FM
station that covered the camp grounds. Remember the FCC
Operator Third Class Radiotelephone License? I sat for the
test and by 16 I landed a great after school playing R&B,
Calypso and Reggae music in the US Virgin Islands, where my
family had by then relocated. I went to college in Atlanta and
worked for several stations there at first on the weekends then
evenings and afternoons. Later I relocated to Jacksonville and
was hired by my current station and have been here ever since.
How has WCRJ evolved over the last
Our station was started and run by a
church when I was first hired. In those days the mission and
focus was a lot different. The leadership didn’t care a lot
about formatics, which to be honest was a challenge because of
my background in secular radio. However they did instill in all
of us the importance of purpose, calling and commitment to God’s
unique assignment for each of us. The station came under new
owners and we played mostly national half hour programs with
music in the drive times. Then after several years we became a
full-time CCM station.
2. Has WCRJ made any changes due
to economic situation, been affected in any way?
How did you guess? I am most amazed
how God has sustained us in these tough times. Our GM, Calvin
Grabau is brilliant in the ways he’s figured out how to raise
the needed revenue in the worse economic conditions we’ve ever
faced. As a donor supported station we’ve had to reinvent the
wheel in fundraising doing it a lot more often but keeping it
fun and being transparent with our audience.
3. How does WCRJ connect locally
We use a lot on phone interaction,
get out and do live remotes, local news and traffic and we have
a genius promotions manager who does a fabulous job.
4. What criteria do you require
for a song to be played on your station?
Our Music Director, Theresa Ross has
pretty much full autonomy with music. Very rarely I’ll ask her
what does she think about a certain song if we’re not playing it
but we let her have the final say. Our GM sometimes steps in and
wants to tweak things. The number one requirement is it must be
written, sung or produced by Toby Mac. Just kidding. The chart
positioning is the biggest factor. Having appeared locally in
concert is another factor.
5. What kind of promotions work
best for Christian radio?
Our listeners like to do fun things
with their families. We’ve found tickets for everyone in the
family to see rated G movies work well. Often we’ll combine
tickets to movies or other events with restaurant gift
certificates and make it a “dinner and a movie family night”.
Concert tickets, of course. Lately we’ve found techo stuff has
been popular like giving away notebook PCs. Being in Florida is
a huge benefit since the theme parks like to work with us.
6. How do you think Christian
Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
I think they do a good job. Plaympe
is a great tool and our engineer loves the unmastered versions
of songs better. Occasionally, we'll go there to get a song to
add and we haven't been permissioned for it for some reason. Of
course, once we bring that to their attention somebody usually
jumps on it right away to try to fix particular issues piecemeal
and if its still blocked, mail us a CD but it's happens enough
times I'd rather see a systemic change where there wasn't bean
counting on which stations are allowed access to which songs.
Maybe they should figure out a way to give us all access to
everything since we're all radio stations. Right now there's a
song we wanted to add but we can't but it'll probably show up in
a few weeks so its not the end of the world. If I'm not mistaken
I also understand its not necessarily the labels' fault because
they can't create their own service that they control since the
idea of distributing songs to radio stations online is patented
so they have to work with outside groups under their terms.
7. In your opinion what are the
biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
At present its the economy. In the
big picture I actually think things are looking positive. More
and more Christian artists are getting mainstream exposure,
which only helps our credibility in our respective communities.
8. What do you believe is the
primary role of the Christian radio air personality?
When I think of the people I enjoy
hearing, I think being fun to listen to probably the biggest
9. What (if any) Christian radio
stations do you consider as innovators today?
88.1 The Promise! :-).
10. Where do you see Christian
radio in 5 years?
I don't think 5 years is really long
enough to see significant changes but I wonder what impact the
new technology will have on radio in the future. HD radio might
gain some traction. Online streaming could be bigger as the
technology gets more wireless and portable.