Career capsule: I joined the Board of The Light Radio Network in March of 2005, started recording a 90-second feature in September of 2009, and was hired as GM in October of 2014. Prior to my work at The Light I was a sales manager for a paging and answering service company for 16 years.
Sean, tell us what’s new at The Light Radio… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?
Lots new here at The Light. First and foremost we have a new m Morning Show co=host. Our previous cohost, Heather Sheppard, went to Heaven in March of 2021 and we took our time finding a replacement. After over a year of much prayer and waiting on the Lord we have moved weekend host Susan Post into the role. Nobody was going to be able to completely fill Heather’s shoes but Susan is wonderful, a consummate radio pro, great for our audience, and works well with PD, Morning Show Co-Host Shawn Tkach.
We’ve also won a couple of new stations in the recent FCC window so we’ll be building those out in the next few months. Excited to be able to reach more in our area with the gospel! We also received a sizable gift that has been halfway matched that will enable us to add these two sites as well as replace our older, analog board.
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
My knee jerk response to this question was ‘N/A’ lol. Do I really BALANCE work and family?
For me it’s always been about priorities. When I was called into ministry (I’m also an associate pastor) my wife and I noted families who served in ministry and how so many of their children struggled. I wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen with my girls so I’ve done my best to put them first. For example, right now my daughter is wrapping up track and field season (800m, 1500m and pole vault if you’re curious :0)) and I make sure I’m there. I’ve also made a point (after hearing the tip from Dennis Rainey) to date my daughters once a month when possible. If I’m ministering to others via the radio of at church and my family is falling apart, what good is my ministry?
I’ll never forget being at church about 15 years ago when my girls were little. Our pastor said “I want you to ask God what your ministry is”. So I did. I was expecting God to say ‘you’re a pastor!’ (this was before I received the official call) but instead I heard “Your ministry is your family” (and yes, that includes my wife. I date her too :0)).
I enjoy serving at The Light, love being a part of reaching thousands with the gospel, but my first priority is my family. And if I don’t ‘have a life’ outside of the radio station I have a life of stress and pressure. My life with Jesus and my family help remove that stress and trust Him. (NOTE: my daughters are 20 and 18 and love the Lord. So does my wife for that matter – her age irrelevant.
Overall, what is the best managerial advice you’ve been given? The worst?
I’m a big fan of the classic little book “The 60-second manager’. The emphasis of that book is to, first, catch people doing something right. Encourage staff immediately when they do something well. This past week was the shooting in Texas and my morning show team did a great job talking about it and praying. I went down to the studio and told them. The second emphasis is to address issues right away. I used to wait until review time. I don’t anymore. I have one on-air employee who gets mad if I wait a week to say something.
Worst advice… take an occasional nap on the couch that used to be in my office here at the station. I ended up cutting my unnecessarily big office in half and making a conference room. I not only never took a nap on the couch but I got rid of it. Don’t need anyone to catch me napping – Amen?
What’s something you’ve learned about Christian Radio due to the pandemic, that you didn’t know before?
People listen from home more than I thought. We always look at drive times but there wasn’t a lot of driving happening in 2020 and yet people were still listening – and giving – PTL!
Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
As we know, Christian Radio is the #1 radio format today. I’ve served as GM here at The Light for almost eight year and I’ve seen the percentage of those listening via terrestrial radio drop from 85% to 75%. Five years from now are we at 70%? 65%? We’ll still be here going strong because of who we are, Who He is and the Good News we offer, but we need to be serving from non-terrestrial avenues and serving well. We need to all set with an app and streaming, etc. and promote it well. We are doing that as best we can and we’re ready to turn up the promotions and do more with those mediums when the time comes.
What is a unique characteristic for your market (or stations), that many wouldn’t know about?
We’re in the Northeast – Vermont – Bernie ‘feel the burn’ Sanders country (no I can’t get you those mittens so don’t email me ;0)). Politically, spiritually… last few decades – pretty non-Christian. I’ve shared the gospel with folks who have literally never heard the gospel or even heard of Jesus. Exciting! Fertile ground!
The other tidbit of info you may not know is billboards are not allowed in Vermont. We’ve only been able to rent billboard in surrounding states.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Spotify and Apple Music. Which is why our on-air people need to be real, vulnerable, relevant, etc. and connect with our listeners – nothing you don’t already know.
Our midday host was at an event and a listener walked over to her and asked “Are you Gail?” Gail replied “Yes” to which the listener replied “You’re going to want to hug me aren’t you?” and Gail responded with a hearty “Yes!!!” (Gail has actually been known to pick people up when she hugs them… we’ve had to curtail that for liability reasons :0)).
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
First and foremost I have to say #1 for me is Brant Hansen. Talk about real, vulnerable, connecting… I started listening to him (and Sherri) when he was on WAYFM and now we have his program on afternoons on The Light. Love his heart and sense of humor. I would describe him as a genius and I don’t use that term lightly.
I was personally and previously mentored by Ric McClary – my predecessor here at The Light who started talking about my replacing him 12 years before I did. He encouraged me and always knew I was able to do this job for which I’ll always be grateful.
Now I gain much advice, support and encouragement from one Mr. Rob Wagman. He has a wealth of knowledge, tons of experience, loves Jesus, great sense of humor, and is also a great guy (but note I’m not using the word ‘genius’ lol). If you need a consultant he’s a good one.