Jason Rackow Interview 5-27-19

Jason Rackow
Production Director
WBGL
Champaign

Career Capsule: Began interning at WBGL in 2004. Hired Feb 2005. I’ve been an announcer, production assistant, and production director.

 

Jason tell us what’s new at WBGL… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?

We’re launching a podcast with Meridith Foster, called “The Unfolding” in the beginning of May! After this, we’ll hopefully be putting out more unique ideas, and recast versions of our shows. Something else I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is that I’ll be in Hawaii (Kauai) next month, thanks to Lovesong Getaways, Fair Trade Services, and Ryan Springer for sharing an email with our staff to submit an entry for the chance to win. I won the thing! I’ll get him some Macadamia nuts, or something.

 

Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd… particularly with production elements?

One thing I’ve noticed is that my PD (Ryan Springer) and I tend to favor a less-is-more approach with regard to number of production elements. I’d rather make one piece that makes someone pause and feel something, than ten elements that make us feel good about hitting some type of self-imposed quota.

Another thing we try to do is attach a story as often as possible. We just finished our Spring Fundraiser, and there were only twelve rotating elements (by design) over our three and a half day event. They were all story imaging pieces, though, and from those, we then communicated specific asks. A lot of time went into creating each of these.

In addition to favoring story-led imaging in all things, we try to tell the stories from multiple camera angles so they don’t sound formulaic. Sometimes this means more narrative VO, or more song led stories, or starting from the perspective of an announcer, starting with a phone call, or… something different.

 

What is the best production advice you’ve been given? The worst?

Best: I don’t know who gave me the best advice, but Ryan Springer showed me the ropes, and because he’s such a left brained fine tuner, he drilled into me a lot of precision over our many years together, that the right-brained Jason now utilizes as second nature. So allow me to extract from this advice to someone who needs it: Keyboard shortcuts are amazing, and you should use them, and familiarize yourself with them if you’re doing production, (Here’s the big payoff, though. Are you ready?) but there’s no keyboard shortcut for precision and fine tuning (or friendship).

 

Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?

Our mission statement at New Life Media is sharing hope in Jesus, one song, one conversation, one heart at a time. We spent a couple of days together to land on these words that we feel are valuable. If any stations are doing this, then that’s excellent. Even if they’re in our market.

 

What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?

I’m a basic bro. We do a coffee trade out with a local roastery called Columbia Street Roastery. I do two french presses a day. The Jean-Pierre blend is poetry. Gotta have it.

I also need the latest version of Adobe Audition, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for writing, and I like to have my terrariums nearby. 

 

Where do you think Christian Radio needs to improve most?

I think we need to more regularly evaluate what we’re doing, ask why we’re doing that thing, and be willing to make quicker decisions to add or drop ideas. We recently dropped a feature that we’ve had since I started over 14 years ago, and it felt really good to drop it. We replaced it with something that I think adds more value to our listener. “How would I do this now if I were starting from scratch?” is always a relevant question. Then act.

 

Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?

I don’t know the biggest obstacle, I feel unworthy to answer, but here’s two that come to mind.

We live in a secular humanist society that doesn’t ascribe as much value to the tradition of Christianity as has been ascribed in the past. But, herein lies opportunity for us to be another voice that points to Jesus, and find new ways to communicate the same things we believe to this culture. We’ll need to be genuine and truthful. It’s all there, we just need to apply it to what we’re doing.

We have a generation growing up who uses apps to communicate and broadcast on that most of our industry doesn’t even know exists. But, we have an opportunity to learn about these young people and innovate with new ways to communicate our message. Healthy churches have a real intention towards the young people. I think a lot of folks in our industry are thinking about this, and I look forward to seeing all the ways we’ll seek to innovate and repurpose our message and mission. At New Life Media (WBGL/WCIC) we’re talking about this stuff, and we’re moving pieces around to address the changes of media consumption, and we’ll try to be a part of the solution. I’m grateful for a leader like Jeff Scott (WBGL GM) who’s given myself and others a green light to launch some ambitious podcast ideas, and I hope we can create something great.

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

I’m basic. Some influencers who come to mind:

On air: Brant, Lisa Williams, and our morning show with Johnathon and Lindsey. With each of them, I like their cadence, general weirdness, authenticity, and use of the name of Jesus. They haven’t lost the plot, and they have a very anti-social media influencer vibe about them, but they’re all totally influencers.

Production influences: I’m influenced by dozens of great production people all over the place. There’s some sharing and community that happens on Facebook with the “CCM Imaging and Production group”. Check it out!

One thought on “Jason Rackow Interview 5-27-19

  • May 28, 2019 at 8:18 am
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    Congratulations, Jason! Enjoy your get-away to beautiful Hawaii!

    Reply

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