Career Capsule: Started my first full-time radio position with New Life 91.9 WRCM in Charlotte, NC in 1993 working as the Music/Production Director. In 1997, became GM for JoyFM, WXRI in Winston Salem, NC. Also served as morning host there for 10 years. JoyFM was awarded the SGMA Station of the Year Award twice during that period. In 2007 I started a satellite network format called God’s Country. In 2012, became the Network Director for the LifeFM, which has now expanded to 26 stations. In 2018 became the host for the syndicated Singing News Top 20 Countdown program, but released that responsibility this year after the passing of Paul Heil, to become the host of the Gospel Greats syndicated program.
Rodney, tell us what’s new at The Life FM Network … news, changes, & new with YOU… etc?
In January we launched a new morning show called the Family and Friends Morning Show with Rodney and Reagan. Reagan is my daughter. She is 22 and it makes for a very interesting dynamic on the air. She loves the music and listeners love the conversation that is generated between dad and daughter.
How has The Life FM reacted to the pandemic, on and off the air?
We did work remotely for a period of time. Technology enabled us to do the morning show from an extra bedroom in our home. On the air, we tried to be relatable to what people were going through. We were transparent about our difficulties and challenges, but tried to always focus on the FACT that God would see us through. We tried to remain a source of encouragement without sounding like we were oblivious to a hurting world.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best piece of advice I was ever given was from a voiceover guy from Atlanta named John Young. John told me to always strive to be relatable. Before you go on the air, ask yourself the question, “Do people care about the story that I’m getting ready to tell? And why should they care?” Dan O’Day also shared that it’s important to make the story yours. Instead of “rip and read” stories…TELL the story and personalize it to you.
Worst piece of advice…can’t remember. I try to forget all the bad advice.
You’re now the host of The Gospel Greats…how did that come about?
The legendary radio host Paul Heil passed away in late December. In March I was approached about becoming the new host of the program. The Gospel Greats is the broadcast STANDARD for Southern Gospel Music. I was a little intimidated about stepping into the shoes of one of my radio heroes, Paul Heil, but I felt like God had been preparing me for the role my entire life. I said YES.
How has Southern Gospel music evolved in recent years?
Southern Gospel has become such an enjoyable format to listen to. I’ve always been a fan, but in the past decade the production standards have elevated this format to compete with anything else on the radio. The lyrics are more relevant than ever, the vocals are more talented than ever, and the record companies are putting the “shine” on in the studio.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
I think it may come from the kids of our current talent. If our children can see how much we love our career and what an impact it’s making on our culture, why not? We need to let our kids know about the comments we hear from listeners, we need to let them know that this is more than a job, it’s a calling.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
Time…I have more things pulling on my schedule than ever before. It’s difficult to be creative when you are up against the clock. We need to find ways to penetrate the airwaves with creative and inspiring words that catch the attention of the guy who is driving home in a daze from a tough day at work.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
One of my biggest influences in radio was my General Manager at WRCM, Ken Mayfield. Ken challenged me. I was young and ignorant about radio. Some of the things that I didn’t see as important, he took time to show me why it was important.
On air…used to love listening to Mark Rider.