Career Capsule: My first station was WRFD in Columbus, OH. At that time, it was a mix of teaching programs and one of the first CCM stations around. I interned and then worked part time on weekends while attending The Ohio State University. Went full time upon graduation (Commercial Copywriter, DJ, Countdown Show Producer). I then moved to East Tennessee (Knoxville market) and worked at a couple of stations there for about three years. (DJ, Programming, News Director) In 1990, WBCL in Fort Wayne hired me. (News, Assistant PD, Production, Promotions, DJ, and ten years as ED this June)
Ross, tell us what’s new at WBCL … any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?
Our Daddy Daughter Date Night has returned after missing last year and it sold out quickly. It will be an outdoor concert picnic. So relieved to do some “normal” stuff again.
My wife and I continue to check off the never-ending list of projects for our farmhouse renovation. Most of the big items are done and we’re starting to take time to relax and actually enjoy the place more.
In your experience, what ingredients are important to make a Christian Radio station work?
Be honest, real, fair, helpful. Hire qualified people and then get out of their way. Listen to your staff. Provide tools and training for professional and personal growth. Realize that the transmitter tower isn’t going to topple over if you try something new and it fails. Never stop learning, never. Try to remember that “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” not to be confused with a whole bunch of other junk.
Overall, what is the best leadership advice you’ve been given? The worst?
These books will address most of the best and worst approaches to leadership. I’ve found them to be quite helpful.
Rooting for Rivals by Greer & Horst
Creativity, Inc. by Catmull
Leadership Endurance by Sanders
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
The connection with our listeners goes even deeper than what I originally thought.
What is your opinion of podcasts for stations & air talent, are they necessary, must have one, etc.?… Please explain…
I tried it just to see what all is involved (before considering assigning others to do it). Right now, for us, the return on the investment of time and effort to make it work well doesn’t match the built-in marketing/content value of making what we already do on-air available digitally on-demand on our website and via social media.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
Others have answered this similarly. Anyone who can naturally communicate and relate well and who is truly willing to be coached.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
Brushing in very broad strokes here. Management needs to find ways to provide quality talent-coaching if it’s not being done already. I was a DJ for a long time. I know how difficult it is to listen to yourself and then listen to a consultant critique your work and suggest ways to improve. However, there’s no shortcut to getting better in this category. You’ve got to do the work and be deliberate about it. The good news is I have yet to find anyone who has not greatly improved after putting good coaching into practice.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I will always give props to my first PD, Bill DeWees, a real example of professionalism and friendliness no matter the circumstance. Our station has been helped tremendously over the years by the unselfish input of first Lee Geysbeek and then Chris Lemke at WCSG. Brian Wright knows what he’s doing as long as you catch him before happy hour. (Joking)
Our former long-time ED, Char Binkley, really set the bar high for excellence.
So many of you reading this have been heroic in your willingness over the years to share what you know at GMA Week, CMB Momentum and NRB in order to help us all get better. I sincerely appreciate that.