career really started as a student at Cedarville University in Ohio
under the tutelage of some great teachers, especially the primary
radio professor James Leightenheimer. Cedarville has a great radio
program that truly strives to teach the students how to do radio
right; both in the class room and at their student run radio station
U99.5 (where I first cut my radio teeth and served as Station
Manager my last 2 years there). I finished up at Cedarville in 2002
with an internship at local blue grass/classic country station WBZI-AM.
Yep, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, and all that “great” classic
music. Thankfully, a week before graduation, I was offered the job
of Programming Assistant at WAYJ in Fort Myers. I moved on to
become the Production Director and to my current position of
Assistant Program Director (also serving as our interim PD from May
2005-October 2005). We have a great staff at WAY-FM, Fort Myers,
led by Jeff Taylor, who may just be the best station manager working
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
I often find the easiest way for me
is just by being places where the listeners are and interacting with
them; listening to their stories and how their lives are changed.
Sometimes it’s just praying with someone over the phone or in
person. It’s those sort of things that remind me that in the midst
of doing the business, lives are being touched.
Overall, how is
Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?
For one, I think it is much better
and much more focused. The music is sounding better than ever, and
if anything is more relevant. For example, right now at WAY-FM
we’re playing “Cut” by Plumb. I’m not so sure Christian radio would
have dared played a song dealing with such a serious subject matter
5 years ago, but now we’re more willing and open to broaching a
topic this important. Finally, I also think that Christian radio is
getting better at reaching out to the “mainstream” Christian
audience and not just catering to the more “crusader” audience.
What do you think are
the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio PD?
I think the PD has to be someone
who is willing to let the content heard on the radio station be open
and honest; listeners respect a station more that is “real”, not
just some fake, “put-on” Christianese radio. Also, the PD needs the
ability to think outside of the box to reach a larger audience, an
audience who may misconceive Christian radio as being poorly done
and cheesy – especially when it comes to the many people who are
mainstream church-goers who themselves may not be familiar with
I think a final, important
characteristic is the ability to have a good ear when it comes to
the programming of the radio station and know when something sounds
good and when something sounds bad. We have to be sounding as good
as anything else on the dial; if not, the listeners will notice.
Solid, good writing is definitely a plus,
What criteria do you require for a song to be played on your
To start with the
obvious, it has to fit our format. After that, it has to be good in
both it’s music and it’s message, and be something that our
listeners would respond well too; to stay on, it has to test well
with our WAY-FM Music Team.
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
The promotions we find that work
best for us are the ones that serve the community (like our annual
Christmas Toy Drive; we collected over 5,000 toys last year!).
Also, promotions that get us out in front of lots of people – our
promotions director Cobi Knight has done a dynamite job at getting
the radio station into places that even the mainstream stations in
our market haven’t made much a dent in. A prime example is our
upcoming promotion we do called “Hands on the Van”. We get to put
our van in the middle of our local mall where an approximate 20,000
people will walk by that day. It draws a crowd, because people want
to know why there are 50 people standing with their hands on our
station vehicle. We make quite the event out of it, and the person
who wins walks away with tickets, backstage passes, etc for upcoming
concerts. Promotions like these have gained us some local news
coverage in the past, exposing us to even more of our coverage area.
How do you think
Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
They ARE getting
better at this all the time with better distribution methods such as
Promo Only. They could be doing a slightly better job at making
artists and giveaways available to non-reporters, but overall, I
think they are doing a decent job.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian
Finding a way to
connect with the large number of churched people who are not
familiar with Christian radio ministry and do not see the importance
of it. Once Christian radio can find a way to really penetrate this
market, then I think we’ll see big increases in cume.
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio
Christians in their day to day lives and being accessible to those
who are seeking.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as
Not that I’m
biased or anything, but I think WAY-FM and our Christian Hit Radio
Satellite Network is doing a great job; network PD Dave Senes has
just done a tremendous job at helping to make our station’s more
relevant and accessible than ever and our evening show Total Axxess
is one of the most dynamic evening radio shows anywhere. I
also think that WPOZ in Orlando does a great job and are a true
leader in our industry. I’ve also been impressed at what I’ve seen
and heard from The Spirit in Seattle and the Fish in Atlanta.
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
think we’ll see continued growth in the format, both in cume and in
acceptance by other formats in our markets. Also, I think we’ll see
Christian radio become even more relevant and real to life in its
message and programming