Career Capsule: My parents would tell you that my love affair with radio began in 1978 when, at four-years-old, I would take my dad’s tape recorder and make my own radio shows. I vaguely remember pushing down on “play/record,” introducing myself, singing a song, telling everyone who I was, doing a commercial, saying I’d be right back in a minute with another song, and so on.
I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Science degree in Journalism from Kansas University in 1992 and enjoy telling people that I have a B.S. in journalism. I took my B.S. to Dallas/Fort Worth in 1998 and began my radio career as a board op on an AM station (570 KLIF) that shared office space with 99.5 The Wolf (Texas Country). In April of 1999, the program director of the Wolf found himself with a no-call-no-show for a night shift. As “fate” would have it, I was finishing a board op shift at KLIF, so Smokey Rivers asked me to cover for the no-show. A week later, I had his job.
Three years later the program director for the competing country station, 96.3 KSCS, asked me to join their morning show, The Dorsey Gang with Terry Dorsey and Mark “Hawkeye” Louis. That was my home for the next ten years.
The year 2009 proved pivotal both vocationally and personally. A near-debilitating season of anxiety and depression led to a spiritual examination and reorientation. I began blogging, and the speaking invitations came quickly. I left KSCS in early 2011 to pursue ministry and seminary, and that’s when Sharon Geiger of 90.9 KCBI interrupted my plans. Serving the DFW area at KCBI for the past eight years has been one of my life’s great joys.
What’s new at KCBI?
We were very excited to move Lauree Austin to the afternoon drive position. In my twenty-one years of radio, I had never seen someone explode out of the gate like Lauree did when she joined us two years ago. She has not only mastered the art of authentically connecting with our listeners; she has built a tremendous online presence with her (incredibly hysterical) videos. And that being said, we are currently looking for a midday host.
What are the biggest obstacles “Mornings With Jeff & Rebecca” faces?
Since we are a non-commercial radio station and therefore not dependent on ratings to secure revenue, I hesitate to call this an obstacle, but I’d have to say the rich selection of excellent Christian radio stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth market. We have all the heavy hitters, and three of us are going to the same fundraising well twice a year. Rather than look at this as a challenge, Jeff (Taylor) and I choose to see it as a constant call to excellence and authenticity. Overall, I feel honored to serve North Texas with such a qualified bunch of gospel communicators.
What is the best show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
A piece of advice that has served me well in morning radio came from Brian Philips, Director of Programming during my Wolf days. I was filling in for our vacationing news guy, so he invited me to sit in on the morning show meeting. “Your presence is implied,” he said, looking around the room. “That means you do not need to say, ‘uh-huh, mm-hmm, yep,’ or ‘that’s right.’” He was right. People automatically assume you’re there. You don’t need to keep establishing your presence. Some breaks are going to feature one personality more prominently than rest, and that’s okay. The listener knows you are there.
Another tidbit came from KCBI Program Director Joel Burke, and that’s the power of the word you. “Radio is a three-way conversation,” he said. “You talk to each other, and you talk to the person (not people) listening as though they were sitting in the room with you.” It makes each listener feel like they are a part of the conversation, and because of the various ways they can interact with us, they are.
What is the one thing you must have each day to do your show?
Coffee. Just kidding. No, I’m not. It’s coffee. And on a more serious note, I spend my forty-minute drive into work talking to the Lord. Moses wrote, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Ps. 90:14). If God doesn’t get to me before the world does, the world will get to me all day long. I spend the time praying, listening, and putting myself in a place where he can use me according to his will.
Where will we find future Christian air talent?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I am, however, the eternal optimist that believes radio is not on its last legs, despite the explosion of podcasters and music-on-demand. That being said, the nuance we must navigate is the streamlining of our industry. With more and more local stations selling off to networks or purchasing network programs, the job opportunities are dwindling. So where will find talent? Right now we have more personalities than jobs. In the future? I think program directors may need to incorporate a concentrated training time as they spot interesting individuals on blogs, vlogs, and podcasts.
What are Christian radio’s biggest obstacles?
Our culture’s attention spans are shrinking by the minute in this on-demand world, and it’s not limited to radio. Publishers want shorter books and Bible studies. Bloggers are encouraged to limit pieces to 300–400 words. The promotional videos Jeff and I shoot each day should max at thirty seconds, but ten is better. Once upon a time, we had time to kill in our breaks; now we have three seconds to grab our listener’s attention and three minutes to hold it. Those of us on the air must master compelling teases and content and leave the rest on the cutting room floor. Our listeners have many options, so we have to grab them and hold them as quickly as possible.
Who are your biggest radio influences?
Young Country Q104 was the biggest thing around during my years at KU, and I thought the Randy Miller Morning Show was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Randy’s co-host was a gal named Kimberly Ray, and I adored her. Randy understood the value of positioning Kimberly so that the women in the audience rooted for her. I remember thinking, “If I want to be in radio, I need to grow some thick skin.” I did, and it served me well during my country years. Kimberly also taught me that women were more than a laugh track. Jeff and I both provide equal amounts of content and maneuver our show in a manner that does not elevate one person above the other. I’m grateful for Kimberly’s example on that.