Career Capsule: Biola University – Rebooted the college radio station in 2007, Graduated in 2008 University with a Bachelor’s in Communications/Public Speaking, 2012 hired part time at Spirit 88.9/KDUV for web and video content. Worked my way up from Program/Production Assistant to Music Director and become Program Director in 2017. Cofounded the Rob and John morning show, stayed on for 2 years before passing on the mantle to John and Rachel in November 2019. Yes. That’s one station in my whole career.
Rob, tell us what’s new at KDUV… latest news, changes, & whats new with YOU… etc?
Well, after two years of pulling double duty on the morning show, I’ve officially transitioned off the show after hiring Rachel Nicks to cohost with John McCullough. We made the transition by letting our listeners vote for how my character would be killed off the show (touring the Taco Bell factory and falling into a vat of Nacho Cheese was the winner). For the first time in 7 years I can actually sleep until 6:30am, which is just… magical. But yes, I am now a ghost in the studio. Also, Spirit 88.9 recently purchased and took full ownership off the office/warehouse building that we have been renting for 27 years, so we are beginning to plan full building renovations inside and out. I, for one, cannot wait for demo day.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
We show up. Every chance we get to support local community organizations and events, we try to figure out how to be there to serve and have a good time. Making sure we put the “FUN” in our brand of “Uplifting, Hopeful, and Fun.” Also, you’ll hear our shows talk about REAL things that other stations may shy away from, and what our hosts are really going through. Still, bringing it back to uplifting, hopeful, or fun.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best programming advice: The target – “Becky” or “Jennifer” or “Nicole” or whatever, is more than the one-dimensional description. She deals with the same junk we deal with – depression, addiction, broken relationships, poverty… Another piece of advice I hope is true: “Complaints mean nothing.” – WORST ADVICE: Making music decisions based SOLELY on your own research is acceptable.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
First some context: My market has about 6 Christian music stations including my own. I know the whole thing about competition forces you to be better. Certainly, it does! But here’s my dilemma: I don’t yet see what’s “better” about competition positioning itself in attempts to overtake/monopolize a market by owning tours with CCM’s biggest artists, and intentionally blocking local stations from being involved, and even not allowing the artists to connect with the them. Or the competition moving their multiple signals on the dial to sandwich as close to the little guys as possible, so listeners scanning through the frequencies may not be able to tell where you are, and on a weird weather day, their signal somehow manages to bleed into your frequency. I have a hard time seeing how cutthroat competition in the name of our mutual mission is a good thing. Still though, I am open to correction.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your show/job?
A plan! That means some sort of planner/calendar or even a basic to-do list on a post-it note. Without it, I feel like I’m wandering around putting out random fires as they come up. Also, the internet, not just for communication but the wealth of data out there to help with music and programming decisions and ideas. And most of all, in myself, the desire to learn something new. I have to admit that I don’t know everything, and I should always be able to glean from others.
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
Let’s not be fake – fake laughing at something that may not be that funny, a generalized statement of encouragement without some real connection to it, a scripted story that we share that is warm and fluffy, but never getting below the surface. I admit I am at fault of this, too.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
The biggest obstacles – complacency – with the status quo, the “way we’ve always done things,” and monotony… also being UNDERVALUED by other organizations or promoters that maybe want to save money in their ad budget, sell more tickets instead of comp-ing some for radio promotions, because they don’t think that radio is important to connect with the community. I believe that will KILL relationships between radio and the artists they gatekeep, and damage the label/radio relationship as well.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Rob Wagman – early in my career was a huge influence and someone who willingly sat down one and one, and shared his programming philosophy with this wide-eyed new kid and helped me realize what my purpose could be in this industry. Also, shout out to Mike Couchman.