Career Capsule: I’m originally from Toronto – born, grew up and attended Humber College taking the radio broadcasting course. I was lucky to get an internship at 1050 CHUM – the Top 40 radio pioneering station in Canada that I listened to as a kid. If it were not for CHUM, I probably wouldn’t have gone into radio. From 1978 til now I have worked in radio, as a DJ, programmer and station manager. I am presently the Founder and President of LIFE 100.3 in Barrie.
Scott, tell us what’s new at Life 100.3… latest news, changes, & what’s new with YOU… etc?
I am married to my junior high girlfriend Janice Baird and we have two grown children and five grandchildren.
At LIFE 100.3 for the first time in 20 years, sales advertising is a struggle. We’ve actually fallen back to the budget of ten years ago. It’s strange – donations are strong. We get requests and contestants on the phones so I know the listenership is there. Sharathon is always increasing in revenue. Also this year we had to buy new transmitters. Our Barrie station is 40,000 watts and the three repeaters are all 1,000 or less. It’s been an expensive year.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I run LIFE like a secular station and keep my eye on revenue and expensive quite closely. We have a Street Team that did 125 gigs last year. And, five of our DJs are qualified to preach and so we do 45 churches messages each year. Those two things keep us very visible in the community.
One other thing is the Artist Relations department, which I head up myself. We give money to artists for recording and tour support. We’ve funded entire albums, provided roadies, marketing new music to radio and even provide management to selected artists. We don’t recoup this money – it’s just a good deed and help promote Canadian music to Canadian Christian radio.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
From Bob Augsburg when I worked for him at WAY-FM in Nashville, he often said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” To me, that means, let people succeed with the small assignments until you are sure they can handle, and will honour the big projects.
The worst advice came from a pastor. I was contemplating firing a sales rep who made us a lot of money and was excellent at maintaining accounts. He was “out of order” and caused a ruffle. The pastor’s advice was “fire him and let the chips fall where they may”. It was very poor reasoning for the situation. But, I did it.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
As a Station Manager and business guy, NO! I don’t want a competitor. But to cover the various formats of Christian radio, yes, it’s probably a good idea. I’d rather people listened to radio than another media source.
How would you describe the Life 100.3 audience?
There are two. The first one is the group who gobble up every song and have a testimony through the music. They love everything we do and they claim to listen “all the time.” They attend our events and donate.
The second group are those who, I believe, are so convicted by the music, that they have actually stopped listening so they don’t have to face changes in their lifestyle and habits. It’s easier for them to avoid the truth and the reminders. It’s very discouraging as a few of my friends are in that category.
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
The small and medium markets are very amateurish. The DJs say unplanned, poorly prepped dumb things and the Program Directors are too lazy to aircheck. The difference between major market DJs (secular and Christian) and medium market is vast.
I believe if you want to be effective you do what the great stations are doing. Copy the legends – the stations and the visionaries. They already weeded out the bad ideas for you. But Christian radio people want to be different, so they DON’T do what the greats do, which is actually a bit boring to me. Consequently, I think, LIFE 100.3 has well trained DJs, on a short but creative leash, and I’m proud of them. Thanks to my PD Steve Jones for never giving up the aircheck meetings.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
I think the biggest obstacle is the inability to take charge. It’s ok to tell someone, “that isn’t good enough, please do it again”, but Christians are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings so they accept mediocrity. I see it in church, in radio and in business. Being assertive doesn’t have to be mean – but it needs to be confident. We need to protect the product, not be afraid of trying.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Thank you for asking. Scott Carpenter was a mainstream broadcaster at 1050 CHUM in Toronto in the 70’s – he made me want to be him. Scott Shannon is my PD hero – he demanded creative excellence and he touched a lot of radio lives going “from worst to first”. My car license plate is actually Z100 NYC. Haha. Don Shafer is my Station Manager hero. His influence in Canadian mainstream radio is significant. He was tough to work for, he was sometimes mean, impatient, and he sometimes threatened my job. He made me tough. And Bob Augsburg at WAY-FM taught me how to do Christian radio with an emphasis on listener support. Bob fired me. The only time I’ve been fired, and had he not done that, I wouldn’t have returned to Canada to hear God’s call to establish LIFE 100.3. It also gave me compassion for those whom I also have fired. These broadcasters all shaped me for the better.