ROBIN ROBINSON / General Manager WHIF Palatka, FL
Career Capsule: As a kid I always dreamed of being a DJ, but gave up on the dream in high school since I didn’t want to go to college. At 19 I gave my life to the Lord and soon found there was a Christian radio station going on the air that needed volunteers. It helped cement my new faith when I found the verse that says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. That was WJLF in 1990 where I went from volunteer DJ to a full-time employee and stayed for about four years before leaving to get a “real job” but just couldn’t stay away. I went back there for a while, then did a few months in a secular radio group and co-hosted an old-time radio program on Classic 89 in Gainesville for two years. Thankfully, the Lord led me to the place that’s been my home since January 2001, serving as the General Manager at 91.3 Hope FM WHIF in Palatka, Florida. Most days I am overflowing with thankfulness, because I just can’t believe I get to do this every day!
1. Robin, tell us any recent changes (news) at WHIF?
We just purchased a new building!! In March we’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary. All this time, we’ve operated out of a small modular building that sits on land belonging to a local church. We started saving a few years ago with the hopes of one day moving to a larger location. When a local music store owner retired and their building went on the market, we jumped at the opportunity. It already included four small soundproof studios that will work well for us. Plus, it’s just around the corner from where we are now. We hope to move soon, once all the renovations are completed. We’re currently working on raising additional support for the renovations that are happening.
2. What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Play the hits! Just because I like a song, it doesn’t mean our listeners do. In tightening up our music schedule from thousands of songs to just over a couple hundred, we sound better and we’re playing what our listeners want to hear. The worst wasn’t really advice, but the decision to air a few hours a week of Southern Gospel music because a few vocal people in our community that said they’d support it if we aired it. They didn’t. It just caused other people turn the radio off! Now we stick to one format. In fact, we recently went to all music and took off long-form preaching/teaching programs. We air short-form ministry features at least twice an hour.
3. Regarding your career, what are you most proud of?
That we are a community ministry. We just happen to use radio to reach people. We live in a small town that tops the list for negative statistics, low income and limited resources. Hope is lacking in our area. I’m honored to help impart hope to people that need it and it gives me such joy to hear from listeners when something I’ve said has helped them.
4. What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?
Prayer! If I get distracted when I walk in the door and don’t have my personal time of prayer in the studio, it seems like the whole day is off! I also have a weekly prayer time with the director of another local ministry which has been a huge blessing to us both over the years.
5. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Our listeners. We don’t have professionally trained airstaff, we have local people that love being a part of what we’re doing and it’s working well for us.
6. Do you feel syndication is good or bad for Christian radio?
It fills a need and is certainly being used by God in people’s lives. For us, local is key. It seems like everyone is isolated in our society now, each of us with our own smartphone or entertainment choices and only connecting remotely. Being a part of the Body of Christ means really knowing each other and staying connected in-person. I feel our station helps foster those opportunities by being a part of the local community.
7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
In my opinion, there are a lot of things that went from humble ministry to big business. It seems like the focus has been lost and we end up following the culture rather than leading it.
8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My first visit to GMA week was very intimidating. I met Terry and Nay Dismore and they seemed to take an interest in me and my station. Over the years they have been tremendously helpful and encouraging! Also, Chuck Finney. More than just our consultant, he’s been like a coach to me. Luke Stephens and Troy Kriechbaum are both doing amazing things at their stations and have been a wonderful source of inspiration. And the DJs that took the time to talk to a kid that pestered them over and over again with song requests, winning contests and showing up at remotes.