Career Capsule: I’ve been in radio since birth. My dad started the station in 1979, and I’ve grown up in radio. I literally don’t know how to do anything else. I’m 26 years old, single and looking for a Godly woman. My dad even said “look for a woman running to Jesus faster than you”. I started at the bottom, cleaning the station, mowing the grass, and enjoyed it. Later I pre-recorded the overnight times and worked my way up to live DJ. I then became the music director. And now the Program Director. I only became the Program Director because my mom who was at the time, fell ill. She’s still around but didn’t want the job back. I am now in training to become General Manager. My dad is semi-retired, and basically, I do the duties of the manager. I oversee each department, make all final decisions, and so forth.
Sean, tell us what’s new at KJIC… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
KJIC changed formats from a Southern Gospel station to a full Christian Country format on January 1st, 2018. We made this change due to our listenership declining more and more as well as the donations. It reached a point where we could not sustain the station as is, so a decision was made to go Country. We decided to play the best of the best, Carrie Underwood, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner and the list goes on. We even decided to bring in the Christian Contemporary artists that lean more folk, Americana, or just country sounding; songs from Crowder, IAMTHEY, Rend Collective, even some Chris Tomlin. The change of course brought on criticism from the Southern Gospel community and some in the Christian community. “How can you play Reba? Next to Crowder? She’s evil” one wrote. Another said you can’t be Christians playing those artists. We knew there would be criticism but after about 3 months they went away, and more and more positive messages came in. “We are so blessed by your station. I’m so glad I can hear my country style of music from my favorites artists and it be clean, safe for the family, and praises God”. Our numbers have continued to rise since the change, and more and more people are coming to know Christ through Country music.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
We stand out first off by different format. We are fortunate to of been declared the largest Christian Country radio station in the world, with tens of thousands of listeners online and many more of the FM. We stand out because the music speaks to the hearts of our listeners. But we can’t stop there. We must ensure that the DJ’s are prepared, they review their shows and learn from mistakes, and every time the mic is on, what’s being said is impactful. Put Jesus in the driver seat, not yourself. Let him provide you with ideas and stories.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best advice I’ve been given is reviewing your show. A lot of times, as a deejay, you can hear a few of the mistakes you make live on air, but when you go back..wow! Learn from what you’ve said. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Change up the intro or ending of the show a little each time. And always remember “um” is never allowed on the air. The worst advice was saying to someone, “talk about what ever you want”. As a programmer and now the Program Director, never just say to a DJ “say what you want, when you want to.” It shows that you don’t really care about what goes over the air. The DJ will feel the same too, and they won’t know literally what to do.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I do not believe more Christian stations in a market is necessarily better. From a business standpoint, now the community has more to choose from, so everyone’s fighting for numbers (especially those with the same genre.) But it does introduce a “little friendly competition.” It can encourage you to learn from others and try to do better. While we should all be in the same boat of trying to lead people to Christ, we can all do it a little differently. Don’t try to build your own audience, build God’s kingdom.
How would you describe the KJIC audience?
The KJIC audience is everything from the typical cowboy to the stay at home mom. Folks from all walks and stages in the relationship with Christ tune in for encouragement, a laugh, and the music.
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
The first thing is to realize that everyone needs improvement. I’ve met Program/General Managers who say their station is fine the way it is (large and small). God did not call us to stop whenever we wanted, he said go and make disciples. Not stop when you think you’ve done enough. Every Christian station, regardless of genre, should be wanting to fulfill the Great Commission, which means never stop improving, and learning. Look at your clock, look at your marketing, how is PR, how is your staff? Do you even pray as a staff?
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Facing Christian radio, I do believe is public opinion. To much liberalism is going to affect the radio, from the FCC. In Canada, it is illegal to say homosexuality is a sin. It is considered a hate crime. Radio may someday be silenced like in Canada. We need to reach people’s hearts that’s where all evil starts. I personally believe our biggest challenges will always be what the devil presents to us, those who are anti-Christ, and so forth, but no matter how many restrictions are placed on radio, no matter how bad this world gets, we can always share about the love of Christ.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I don’t have any radio heroes. But I am impressed by some radio station in Europe who put on live tv shows in their studios and go out in the community. Maybe that’s what radio needs to do. Everyday be out there ministering not only on the dial or internet but in person.