Career Capsule: Lee’s aspirations to be in broadcasting started early in life partly due to the success of his older brother (Jeff Davis – WLS Chicago) Lee started in radio in 1977 as a long-haired Rock and Roll DJ but he knew there was something missing. Lee said, “when God called me to Christian Radio in 1984, I knew He had a better plan for me than I could ever have for myself”. He’s spent the last 40 plus years using the gifts and drive the Lord has giving him to express the hope and power of Jesus Christ.
Lee has run radio stations as Program Director, Operations Director and General Manager and is currently President/General Manager of Legacy Broadcasting and holds down the morning air shift on Today’s Christian Country.
Lee, tell us what is new at Today’s Christian Country…. news, changes, & what’s new with YOU… etc?
In short…growing pains. We started the “Today’s Christian Country” format about 8 years ago. We worked the format in our market (Spokane, WA DMA) and did quit well with it, even with all the setbacks i.e. tower move, fire that took our transmitter and all associated equipment, studio move and just the day to day of running a non-commercial station. However, our listeners and insurance company where great and helped us through it. About 2 years ago someone reached out to us wondering if we would share our format with a station they wanted to do, that lead to us purchasing our second station. Now, we have Today’s Christian Country on KYMS/Spokane, WCDG, Dahlonega, Ga both of which we/ Legacy Broadcasting own and WUCG, a station owned by another ministry in Blairsville, GA. We are currently looking at additional properties to continue expanding Today’s Christian Country too.
How have you been affected by the pandemic, on and off the air?
Our entire staff now do their shows from home and getting out and meeting our listeners has been much harder. That being said, in a lot of ways the relationship has grown with our listeners because radio has always been a personal friend to those who, for whatever reason, can’t connect with friends and family. The guy or gal on the radio becomes that friend that can come into their living room and the pandemic just increased the need for people to connect.
What is the best programming/show advice you have been given?
Best advice? If you only play what you like then you are playing to an audience of one.
The worst? Maybe you should give up.
For those who aren’t familiar, what’s the differences between Todays Christian Country and Southern Gospel?
Wow! Everything! Please don’t misunderstand what I mean by this. Southern Gospel is a great format. But Country music is a unique format all on its own. It would be like asking what’s the difference between Contemporary Music and Contemporary Christian Music. Jesus! Same with Christian Country and Country…Jesus. The style is the same. In fact, we play many of the same artist as your local country station, we just play the faith based cuts. George Strait, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Florida Georgia Line their all here, but there is a great pool of Christian Country Artist we mix in like Shellem Cline, Barry Lee White, Cory and Kelly, Scott Brown and more. To be honest, I would put this format up against any Country radio station in America.
How has Christian Country music evolved in recent years?
That is a great question, I remember being asked to do a Christian Country countdown in the mid 90’s when I was working for a Country station in Austin, TX. Finding the kind of artist that could go toe to toe with the mainstream country artist was almost impossible. There were a few like the Mid-South Boys and White River but there just wasn’t enough to maintain a chart. Today, there are multiple charts and Christian Country Music organizations like American Christian Country Music Association (ACCMA) and Inspirational Country Music Association (ICMA). There are stations all over America that are starting to catch on to the popularity of Christian Country, terrestrial as well as internet. Frankly, I must give a shout out to my friend Marty Smith @ Heavens Country who has been blazing this trail for over 20 years. Without him, I’m not sure any of us would be here. Christian Country has come of age, and you can see it on the charts when you have country artist doing duets with contemporary Christian artist and vise a versa.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
That is a question I have been trying to answer for a long time. When you figure it out could you let me know? For us the most successful place as been folks that have been in radio and either have gotten saved since they got in the biz or left radio years before but have a desire to use there past experience for Jesus now.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian Radio?
Oddly enough it’s not what most people today seem to think. It’s not internet or pay subscription services. It’s passion! If we are passionate about Jesus and our craft as professional communicators, if we won’t settle for good enough. Pursue to be the best at what we do, not for ego or recognition, but because the one we serve deserves the absolute best that we can give.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
There are 2 of them. First is my oldest brother. Jeff Davis, He had already made it to WLS in Chicago when I got into radio. Every week he had me send him an aircheck, and every week he went through it outlining what he wanted me to work on that week. This went on for at least a year and a half, then one day we realized the list of things to work on was virtually gone. He has been the greatest mentor, friend and brother anyone could ask for. Second was Deacon Don Evans at KPBC in Dallas, Tx. This was the first Christian station I ever worked for. Deacon Don was patient with my zeal and reassuring of my gifts. I am sure he covered for my short comings more than once. He is in heaven now and there is no doubt he has a golden mic along with the jewels in his crown.