The Blessing of the Doubter
How Carlos Aguiar Raised Up An Entire Network
When I had first gotten the privilege to program the WAY-FM network in August 2014, it was Carlos Aguiar, who posed the hard questions about the network and our true ability to win. Before I arrived, Carlos took the job at WAY-FM to host afternoons, yet in his travels via auto from Houston to Nashville he admits questioning his decision as he would hear different versions of the WAY-FM brand along his car ride to Music City, not being confident that the presentation of the product he was hearing could ever compete for real dominance.
There are many attributes of Carlos Aguiar that I learned to admire over the years we spent working together, but one that made the biggest positive impact on the product and presentation was his heavy doubt.
I believe one of the most incorrectly diagnosed stories in the bible is that of Thomas, or as he has become known, the doubting Thomas. Since childhood, we are taught to look at this story as some guy who is almost a castaway for his inability to believe, but when we read this story today, with wisdom and without someone else’s translation, what we really see is a guy whose friends tell him the craziest story in the world.
Hey, remember Jesus who died a couple days ago, and whose lifeless body was put inside that tomb? Well, we were hanging out with him yesterday, and it was surreal, because while he’s alive and all, you can see right through his hands where the nails held him to the cross.
Would You Believe Your Friends?
Thomas reacted, not as some insubordinate employee, but the way every human being would have reacted had the friends he hangs out with every day claimed to have an experience as such. As great friends, we often play tricks on each other and kid each other a lot, and people were no different back then, because people have always been people, so when his friends tell him this outlandish story, he decides to instead of just buying it, tells them he needs to see proof. ‘Until I put my fingers in the holes of his hands and in his side, I won’t believe.’
And somewhere over thousands of years, this story got twisted into us believing that Thomas had little faith and deserved to be put in isolation for his disbelief.
You know that Thomas believed in Jesus fully, NOT when he put his fingers in the wounds, but by the millisecond when he first saw Jesus in the flesh, and in that time, he was already rethinking his need of any further proof. He even responds, “My Lord and My God.”
BUT it isn’t a move of chastisement that has Jesus forcing Thomas’ hand into the wounds, but instead the greatest moment of compassion. All any of us has, is our word, and Jesus does something remarkable for Thomas, he allows Thomas’ word to be fulfilled, to be true.
He tells Thomas that he believes because he has seen, but Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe. Never in that statement does he chastise or belittle Thomas, but instead says you have the luxury, like your friends did yesterday, in seeing me in the flesh and believing because you have personally experienced me resurrected, yet there will be many who don’t have this experience and yet they will still believe.
Test All Things
Here’s what Thomas did that is a great lesson to us all. He did not simply hear the word and believe it to be true. Jesus in Matthew 24 commands us not be deceived by any means. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 we see another reminder of the devil’s tricks, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
This was the incredible heart of Carlos Aguiar. He had a winner’s heart, and when he saw things not aligning for the victory of all at WAY-FM, he spoke up boldly.
No one wants to hear that their baby is ugly, but if it just needs a haircut and everybody else has been acting like he’s the cutest infant they’ve ever seen, then you could be misled to believe Gerber would be calling in the next couple minutes to feature this tot’s face on jars and bars and oats and rice.
Carlos was obsessed with the brokenness of the relationship of the WAY-FM Network and the local station, believing that it was in this relationship where the greatest growth for WAY-FM could come from.
Without Carlos, I would not have seen this as quickly as I did, and while I would have known there were issues, it would have taken me a bit of time to identify exactly what those issues were.
By the turn of Spring of 2015, as the new music changes had fully taken effect, and the local WAY-FM stations sounded cohesive with the Network elements, the ratings in Nashville, West Palm Beach, Louisville, Huntsville and some other smaller and larger markets had begun hitting record levels, and the Wally Show was putting up impressive numbers in the morning market to market, as each ratings period or monthly would show continued growth for station and AM Show.
Self-Cleaning Ovens and Charts That Make Themselves
Carlos was supposed to be my MD, and he had that title, although on several occasions he would say, “I’m not really your MD.”
He was harshly honest, a trait that I became MOST fond of; managing so many different types of people.
He was right. Because I was among the first to utilize local consumption as a strong influencer of making music moves, the weekly Moneyball Chart I would create for the WAY-FM Network, including information of sales and streaming in all of the markets where that info was available, mixed in with online music research; our charts and music adds, for the most part were done for us, and in those times where the info left holes, I could bank on Carlos giving a great suggestion for a song for airplay, and 9 out of 10 times he would pick a hit.
As harshly honest as Carlos was, so was his boss; that would be me, and during an aircheck of his afternoon show, I asked him why he was trying so hard to placate the listener, and he gave me the story I had heard so many times before about this potential listener named Becky. I listened to his reasoning and arguments and told him that by attempting to play to this listener, who I don’t believe really exists, he’s missing the most important thing he can give them. That thing is the true him.
Be True to You or Be True to Nobody Never
I explained that if he wasn’t being real about who he was, that Becky, real or not would NEVER fully identify with who he was, and he would always fall short of full effectiveness. I gave Carlos the freedom to be himself and he accepted the challenge. Carlos and Joy were already a funny duo; but as Carlos emerged, the content, heart and humor went through the stratosphere.
In no time at all the afternoon show exploded and soon ratings were on par with AM Drive and before you knew it, the show had surpassed the morning show. In PPM markets, this was the norm, so now I had a show doing what it was supposed to do.
The righteous shall be bold as lions is what the good book declares. I am thankful to God that in my time in Nashville I worked with the boldest, as his presence was the secret ingredient to the atmosphere of winning.
Since 1991, Rob Wagman has been known first by his faith, and then by his skills in the secular side of this Industry, and now is known by his versatility, having succeeded in both radio and records in multiple formats from Christian Contemporary, Rock, Alternative, Top 40, Rhythm, Urban and Hot AC, in various roles from On Air to Programming to Marketing and Promotions.
Wagman has worked in all of the Top 3 markets, LA, NYC and Chicago, and returned to LA in 2012 as his entry way into CCM, in PM Drive at KFSH, 95.9 The Fish before becoming the Network PD for WAY-FM.
In 2013, Wagman launched Straight Path Media + Entertainment, a consulting firm which hyper focuses on talent and each station’s greatest need for growth, supplying a la cart programming services for branding, from music strategies, promotional and marketing think tank brain storming, promo and imaging creative, talent coaching and airchecking. Wagman presently coaches 27 air talents, consults 13 stations plus 4 clusters.
Contact Rob Wagman at StraightPathMandE@gmail.com