Career Capsule: I’ve been in radio since the 1900s (1999), half in mainstream Hot AC, half in Christian radio, most of that at JOY FM, St. Louis. I’ve had the honor of being part of programming teams in both mainstream and Christian radio, and love figuring out ways to serve God best by serving our listeners well.
Kelly, tell us what’s new… news, changes, at WAY FM & with YOU… etc?
I’m SUPER excited about WAY-FM’s World’s Biggest Small Group. It offers our listeners a place to connect and grow. This Fall we hope to engage 100,000 listeners with the Bible, providing an entry point to regularly diving into Scripture. I believe of all the ways in which we encourage listeners, encouraging them to read the Bible is the most powerful.
As for me, At WAY-FM I’m learning a ton from my peers. We have a hugely talented team. As of last week, I’m honored to attend music meetings with Todd Stach and Steve Shore, and get more deeply connected into promotions and programming.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I think to stand out from the crowd, we need to simply be ourselves. There is no other YOU, and people genuinely appreciate when you share who you truly are, and your story. It’s how we connect with our listeners — those moments where they realize the person talking on the radio is real, a person, facing the same issues they might be facing. If I can do this with humility, bare my soul in a way that brings us all forward and a little closer to God and to each other, that stands out.
What is the best show advice you’ve been given?
Best show advice was in my very first aircheck in mainstream radio, and I always have to return to it as a complicated human being: “Keep it simple.”-Mark Edwards, who I first worked with at 101.1 The River (WVRV) then again for Y98 (KYKY). It’s possible to keep a break simple enough for the passive radio listener to understand and embrace, while still deepening our connection.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I disagree if they are all doing the same thing; competition in ministry is counterproductive. I agree if they are each attempting to serve God and their listeners in unique ways. But as far as raising the bar? No. If I look to the right or to the left, I’m going to change into something different, probably into what I saw to my right or my left. Learning from each other is great, competing is not.
What is the ONE thing you must have every day to do your job/show?
Prayer. (followed by some time in Scripture, strong coffee, and a look around at what’s happening in the world…)
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
I hope from all sorts of places, so that each brings something unique to the table. That’s seems to be how God has been doing it, and I think it’s working.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Pride and competition. If we focus solely on serving our listeners, and this goes for any format, we are doing our jobs correctly, and our listeners benefit.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Sandi Brown, KLJY, JOY FM, who gave me my start in Christian radio. I admire her trust in God, and commitment to keeping the ministry pure, developing a timeless mission statement through which all things are run.
Jon Hull, KSBJ, a mentor during my time at JOY FM. Through years of learning and executing fundraising with him, I formed a greater trust in God’s provision. “All you can do is ask, and see what God does,” is a huge relief in the middle of on-air fundraising. He’s right. It’s not on us. We simply present the need. God prompts hearts.
Smokey Rivers, currently programming with Entercom in Seattle, for his belief in the distinct power radio has to connect with people and create community. He let a part timer in St. Louis go on the air in NYC (me), and was integral in the continued development of the Phillips & Company Morning Show when I worked with him at Y98. He believes in talent.
Mark “Keep it Simple” Edwards, for laughing at how complex we make radio, because humans needing humans is really so simple. Mark gave me my first shot in mainstream radio (WVRV, then later KYKY) based on a demo I created FOR that interview. He called me out, and I confessed. I believe Mark coined the phrase, “It’s not radio, it’s just brain surgery.” Or maybe not, but I’d like to believe he did.
Mike Couchman, because he’s kind, committed, smart, and cooler than he thinks. I had the honor of working with him in St. Louis. I know everyone mentions Mike, but that’s not why I am mentioning him. I am amazed by how he allowed God to use him to launch Boost in St. Louis, from scratch, which was not our original plan, leading up to a time when St. Louis would need this station immensely in our community.
Johnathon Eltrevoog, WBGL, and former KLJY PD, for understanding how to aircheck talent in the most refreshing and encouraging and helpful ways. And for being just generally awesome and supportive.
Our air staff at WAY-FM, for figuring out how to be incredibly entertaining in ways that are clever, yet still fit nicely into what God is doing through WAY-FM. Humor within ministry can often walk a fine line. “The Wally Show” and “CJ & Joy” are a couple examples of those who walk it well. Also, programming and management at WAY-FM for encouraging this.
Also…really, this is hard. I VALUE every program director I’ve ever worked with, and find such great value in learning from ALL of my industry peers. I spent a brief time at a record label, which was a difficult season for a radio nerd, but in that time I met SO many great programmers and have gotten to be part of some great stations! Joel Burke, KCBI, Dave Margalotti, FLN, Mike Kankelfritz, FLR, and some great mentors… Melony McKaye, Life 88.5, Jeremy Sweat, The Fish, Brian Sumner, HIS Radio, Matt Stockman, KLOVE. Gosh. I’ll stop now. But…I could go on. Connect with all these people! They are great, and generous with their time.