Career Capsule: I fell in love with radio as a freshman at Mount Vernon Nazarene College in the fall semester of 1987. I will never forget my first visit to the station on the second floor of Founders Hall. I spent 4 years working as a student at WNZR in Mount Vernon, OH. In those days, I fell in love with Christian music, learned how to show prep and started to understand what it meant to serve a community. After college, I spent 6 months as a volunteer missionary in Guadalajara, Mexico. I worked for the Church of the Nazarene in an office run by a husband and wife missionary team. I did everything from translating documents to taking the mail to the post office. God lead me back to Mount Vernon, OH where I took a job at WMVO/WQIO. I spent 5 years there and served in numerous positions: Promotions Director, Host of “Great Oldies in the Afternoon” (where I actually used vinyl), Mid-Day Host on the secular AC station and Sales Coordinator. In the fall of 1996, an opportunity to return to my alma mater opened up. I started that school year as the WNZR Station Manager with a very small group of students. Twenty-two years have flown by as I have accepted God’s calling to raise up our next generation of broadcasters. I can honestly say that I have been overjoyed to see some of my former students make their mark in our business.
I am very passionate about community involvement and have made it a vital part of our ministry and the students’ educational experience. I have served on numerous boards and committees including Knox County’s Food For The Hungry Campaign, Starting Point – our local crisis pregnancy center, the Knox Network of Christian Ministries, Knox Substance Abuse Action Team, Distinguished Young Women and Main Street Mount Vernon. Managing college students for over 2 decades hasn’t always been easy, but God has been faithful through every change. I still get excited when each new group of students walk through the doors of Founders Hall for the first time, like I did so many years ago.
Marcy, tell us what’s new at WNZR?
WNZR is celebrating 32 years of ministry as Mount Vernon Nazarene University celebrates a 50th Anniversary. The 2018-2019 school year brought several alumni back to us. We have former students now in faculty and staff roles including my Office Manager/Underwriting Coordinator (Wesley Boston). Over the past few years, WNZR has expanded to include an online video streaming service that covers MVNU Sports, Chapel services, candidate debates and the annual Food For The Hungry broadcast. Check it out at www.wnzr.tv and www.mvnu.tv
This past summer, we created a new app with Jacobs Media and also participated in their Tech Survey through our membership with Christian Music Broadcasters. We are currently upgrading our production room, adding technology to the tower site and plan to re-design the logo/graphic wrap on our station van this summer.
Our curriculum program is changing for the 2019-2020 school year. The new major will allow students to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication & Media. Students will have a choice between two concentrations: digital media or strategic communication.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I don’t believe that Christian radio stations should look at each other as competitors. We should all be partnering together to build the kingdom. I think that every radio station has to find their calling within the community/communities that they serve.
We are called the Lifeline at WNZR. We strive to live out our mission through everything we do: digging into the messages of our music, collecting donations for our local food pantries, telling the success stories of our crisis pregnancy center, announcing birthdays and anniversaries, buying hogs from 4H kids at the County Fair, announcing school cancellations (which has happened a lot this week) and praying with listeners at events or on the studio line. Our industry only becomes stronger as we support each other and focus on reaching the lost. We have to break down the walls between us and truly operate as the body of Christ.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best advice I have ever received was from Valerie Geller in a session at GMA (Gospel Music Week). Be Yourself! Be authentic in every show. Your experiences can be powerful. The storyteller matters almost as much as the story. She also said to have FUN!
The worst advice I have ever received is that you should never date someone you work with. Well, I not only dated Joe Rinehart, I married him! Being partners in the radio ministry of WNZR at MVNU has truly been an answer to prayer. I have someone who understands the crazy life of a Station Manager and shares my passion for our listeners. God has blessed me with a true man of God that is pouring his experience, expertise and love into the lives of our students every day. I can’t imagine being on this journey with someone who didn’t teach me that our challenges can bring some of our greatest blessings. Plus, he makes me laugh!
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I think having several Christian stations in the same market can be powerful if they each find a specific audience to reach. We are blessed in Christian music to have so many different styles and genres of music. We are constantly being introduced to new talent with unique sounds. My hope and prayer is that we will break free of the “format box” and experiment with new programming ideas. I would love to see a market with a Praise and Worship station, a Hip Hop station, a true AC and maybe even a Gospel/Urban station. Wouldn’t it be cool if all of those stations worked together to host a big festival featuring many different styles of music where the message of Jesus is at the heart of the event?!
What is the ONE thing you must have every day to do your job/show?
COFFEE. Working with 25 students at all different levels of experience, all learning new skills, with very demanding schedules who are finding their calling means I must have caffeine.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Well, Joe and I have 25 students who are actively learning and preparing for their futures. Right now, we have several Juniors and Seniors that are looking for summer internships. If you are willing to take a chance and help us build the future of Christian radio, call 740-392-9090.
*I am super excited that Christian Music Broadcasters is starting CMB University this fall. Michelle Younkman and her team are definitely breaking new ground to connect our young talent with Christian stations across the country. Thank you CMB!*
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Christianity continues to be marginalized in society, which can jeopardize long-term partnerships. The term Christian can have a negative connotation and cause division within a community. Christian radio needs to live out the messages we send through our airwaves. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus, so that people see the authentic love of Christ through our actions. When members of our community truly experience love and grace from us, instead of judgement and criticism, the walls will start to fall.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Jon Hull from KSBJ is one of my heroes. He has always been welcoming to me and my students at conferences and has shown true interest in what is happening at our station. He has such a vast knowledge of radio and is so gracious to share it with even the smallest markets. I think God has created the perfect job for Jon in mentorship. I praise the Lord that Jon is helping to strengthen stations and their ministries all over the world.
He is the KING of fundraising. Just ask the staff who worked NGEN’s PowerDrive this past summer. (J-Dolla!)
I am so proud of my former students who have accepted a call to Christian radio and other ministries. Here are a few that inspire me every day!
Obadiah Haybin and Zach Roys at Radio U in Columbus, OH
Sam Dye at Way Truth Life Radio in State College, PA
Josh Hooper and Aubrey Bailey at The River in Columbus, OH
Naomi Cantrell at Star 88.3 in Greenville, OH
Tyler Boss at Star 88.3 in Ft. Wayne, IN
Josh Pollock at Lighthouse Radio Network in Bangor, Maine
Josh Petersen, President of Music City Management in Nashville, TN
Matt Croy, WKLM in Millersburg, OH