Career Capsule: I have been in radio for 19 years and all of that time at KHPE in Albany, Oregon. I’ve He always had an interest in radio and even used to make “Dr. Demento” like recordings for family members pretending to be a Jock under the made up radio signal 107.9. God has a sense of humor as that is the FM signal of KHPE. I have a background in sales and marketing and have served in many roles like these and others in my time at KHPE. Currently I am the Morning Show Host along with my wife Debbie. I maintain a voiceover business at www.paulvoices.com where credits include work for Olive Garden, AAA, Sprint, Dairy Queen, Arby’s and Six Flags to name a few.
Paul, tell us what’s new at Hope 107.9… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
I started at Hope 107.9 in sales 19 years ago and did such a bang up job, they brought me inside to do production and eventually as one of the On Air Jocks. The station has come along way from have a play list of almost 2000 songs (can you imagine) different styles and genres of Christian music plus teaching programs. Tune in at any time and you didn’t know what you would get. Thanks largly to our General Manager Randy Davison, who was not afraid to ask questions and invest in help for our DJs and programming consulting from lots of industry professionals, we have come a long way.
Today, we are strictly Christian AC. Our playlist is a fraction of what it once was and we are playing people’s favorites. Our listener-ship has increased and our pledge drives have been hitting 100% of our goals or better every time thanks to the help of lots of great industry professionals.
I currently host our Morning Show with my beautiful Bride Debbie and am also the Program Director for Hope 107.9 FM. These days we try to find ways to connect with our listeners more and more on the air, social media and in public.
Something new we’ve attempted this year are what we call “Hope Game Nights”. An idea our GM Randy came up with to provide a free fun evening for our listeners to come to, enjoy and interact with us. So far we have reenacted our version of The Newly Wed Game and Family Feud with our staff and listeners participating in the show. Lots of prizes were given away and lots of laughs were had but most of all, lots of great connections were made with our listeners and the community and on social media.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
Connecting with our listeners by just being real and down to earth. In our market we also have Klove, Air One and The Fish. We all have similar play lists so we try to focus on not only playing the songs listeners want to hear, but giving them hope and encouragement in between the songs. To give them reasons to listen beyond the music. This takes the form of good story telling from our Jocks to “spiritual nuggets” and imaging in between the songs designed to inspire and bring hope and encouragment. We also try to set apart our imaging voices by having them give us more laid back and real person type reads. Dave DeAndrea at davedeandrea.com and Cira Larken at ciralarkin.com do a great job for us on this.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best: Make your listener feel something.Ask yourself why he or she would be interested in what you have to say? People don’t listen to the Air Talent just because they have a nice voice or simply because they are on the radio. People listen when they connect with us via the things we share that make an emotional connection with them. Sharing personal and hopeful encouraging stories found in our daily lives as Jocks, from listeners and from show prep and good stories online or in the news. People, especially today, want to be encouraged and lifted up. In the past few years we have moved towards more story telling and fewer “DJ breaks” that are just noise or wallpaper. Trying to make the listener feel something with everything they hear, even something as simple as a song intro or back announce.
The Worst: I can’t think of one piece of bad advice I have received, except the unspoken learned behavior of not to seeking advice from others. We’ve been blessed to learn from lots of industry Professionals and Consultants. When I started we had no direction and didn’t even know what questions to ask. We just did what we did and figured people would listen because it’s on the radio. So the worst advice I can think of is to not ask questions or seek help and advice. Our General Manager Randy Davison has exemplified this very well for us.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I suppose that depends on how you look at it. From a spiritual standpoint, the more Christian Stations on the dial the better. Our world needs more hope in it than ever and who better to bring that hope on the radio but a Christian station. We are in a small market in Albany, Oregon. Our signal’s reach, however, is within 72% of Oregon’s population which is great. However, as I mentioned before we also have Klove, Air One and The Fish in our market. So from a non-spiritual perspective there are more opportunities for listeners to tune into our competitors when they don’t like something they hear on our station. This, however, causes us to strive to be the best that we can be so that they will stay with us. So while I might wish for less competition, I guess I try to look at it like iron sharpening iron so that we can do the best job at what God has called us to do.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
In a word, perseverance… and a reason. I guess that’s two words but math was never my strong suit. We are a small staff and each of us must tackle more than one job. For me as a Morning Show host and Program Director, it can be exhausting at times to find show prep and manage the Morning Show while at the same time regularly work on programming, clocks, imaging etc. Perseverance, because the morning show alone takes up half my day and so to stick with it and continue to work hard on the show and all of the aspects of my Programming job, it can be a challenge. But whenever I get weary God reminds me of the “reason” we are doing what we do. To bring hope to people who need it. How can that not give you the energy to keep going?
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
I believe the answer to this is kind of eclectic. For us, we have talent that voice track for us from other stations and we have also invested in talent in house with our own employees.
In addition to radio, I also work as a voice talent at paulvoices.com. Having received lots of training in the voiceover industry, it has shown me that more and more, clients are looking for the “real person” sound or in my case the “guy next door” sound which has become my tagline. They are often looking for someone who does not sound like an announcer but rather a real person. Someone who will convey their message like one person having a conversation with another.
I believe these same principles apply to Christian Radio Air Talent. Listeners want to connect with the Jock and feel like they are listening to their friends. Not like an announcer who is just talking at them. That being said, I believe that new talent can be found with people we know in our circles and who can be groomed and trained to be great talent. My wife was not in radio and had no experience but now co-hosts the morning show with me.
I believe we can find new talent who are family or friends at church, interns, in colleges and also people who approach us with an interest to work in radio, whether with or without a broadcasting degree, that can be groomed from an entry level position or job and move towards becoming an air talent from there.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
For radio in general I think new cars with smart screens make “the radio” more difficult to find. Also people seem to want to download or get their music from sites and apps like Pandora and Spotify. Yet while these may appear as obstacles, I believe that Christian Radio still has lots of value and even an advantage over other radio formats because while people may crave getting their music on their terms, they also crave hope, encouragement and stories of good news. You don’t have to look hard or long to find news and stories that will create anxiety or leave you feeling angry or depressed. That is where we can excel. Listeners come to us to get away from all of that.
I have met with many listeners in my area that have said they used to listen to other formats but have tuned in more to our station because of the “hopeful stories” and messages that they hear along with the music that keeps them focused on God.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
As I mentioned before, as a small market station, I feel that we have been very blessed with help and insight from many Industry Professionals.
We have had the pleasure of working with Alan Mason, John Frost and their teams who are well known in the industry and are currently working with Chuck Finney of Finney Media, who is doing a tremendous job for us. He has been helping us to streamline our playlist, music clocks and imaging and overall programming. He has been helping us to make sense of our imaging and brand and ultimately do radio better to make more meaningful connections with our audience.
I also have to give thanks to my GM Randy Davison who has invested in me and our on air talent by working with great people, some of whom I just mentioned, but also talent coaches like Scott Michaels who we’ve worked with in the past and now Scott Valentine, who has really helped us to become better story tellers and on air personalities who are more engaging and fun to listen to for our audience.