Career Capsule: I attended The Ohio State University and have been in radio for over 50 years. My first fulltime job in radio was at WMAN in Mansfield, OH in 1970 and my first Program Director job was WGLX on Galion, Ohio in 1972. WTVN in Columbus, Ohio was the first major station I worked at. My resume’ also includes WKRC Cincinnati, WDAE Tampa, WWBA St. Petersburg, WIP Philadelphia, WLW Cincinnati,WPCH Atlanta, WJXB Knoxville, WFFH Nashville, WFCJ/WEEC Dayton , and now Family Radio.
Vance, tell us what’s new at Family Radio… latest news, changes, & what’s new with YOU… etc?
After a year in the building stages, Family Radio will begin originating all programming from our new state of the art studios in Franklin, Tennessee by August 1. During this year long process we have been blessed with tremendous audience growth and donor support. We have completed two live fall and spring fundraisers from our new location. On air fundraising is a new thing for Family Radio. Our transparent, no nonsense approach has netted a generous response from both old and new listeners. We see the hand of God in these endeavors. We are in the process of building our team in our new location, while continuing to maintain necessary support from our Alameda facility.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
We don’t consider other Christian stations as direct competition. Family Radio stations are unique in our programming model. The principals that guided us for over 60 years are still in place. We are strong in sharing the Gospel, the best hymns and content that relates to our psychograhic target audience. Along with every other form of Christian Radio broadcasting, our goal is to super serve a tremendous potential audience. In that sense, our target is for the ears of those who do not know the Lord and for those who want to know Him more deeply. We believe we have a great opportunity to grow as we seek those listeners.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best program advice I have ever been given came early in my career as a Jacor program director. At a PD seminar we heard from a Procter and Gamble speaker who introduced the concept of “Focus on Your Purpose”. That singular principle has served me well over my 50 year career. The worst was the antithesis, “our morning show has to be more like the rest of the market.” It never worked out well. 😊
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
From a Kingdom perspective, the more Christian stations, the better. When KLOVE came to town, My boss at the Fish, Mike Miller impressed upon us that there would not likely be a kingdom reward for any of us if we set our sites solely on beating KLOVE in the ratings. (can you imagine when standing before the Lord to give your accounting and you said, “well we beat KLOVE!” We developed a deeper purpose that is still paying dividends for the Fish team to this day. In our case it involved being the best community station we could be while pursuing excellence in all our on air elements and listener-talent relationships.
Regarding podcasts, what is your opinion on doing them, is it necessary do to one, etc?
We are just getting started with podcasts. We hope to launch our platform in the next 30-60 days with a good variety of podcasts that reflect the values of our on air product. It’s a logical extension of what we do and we see benefits of integrating some of the off air content in proper proportion with our on air content. The challenge is to keep the time and resources we devote to the podcasts in proper perspective of where we achieve audience tune in. We have a strategy and we know we are going to learn a lot as we go.
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
Time and time again, Christian listeners are telling us that they want bold biblical principles and authentic, relatable content. We have a different canvas from most stations, but the challenge for all of us is how we achieve a good balance in serving our audiences. There is the battle between “relatable” and “local” for most stations. The really good ones will find creative, innovative ways to relate to their audience, regardless of zip code. (I may have learned that from one or two really good consultants)
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
The “right now” challenge with Christian radio is navigating the Covid obstacles. Staffing and resources are challenges. Be encouraged, God is faithful and if your station has good leadership and unity, you can survive and strive. The other challenge is finding your sweet spot in encouraging your audience during these difficult times. Determining your ingredients for your on air recipe are vital. Demonstrating the promises of God and sharing the hope of the Gospel are two of the most important elements. As I recently reminded my staff, “the listener can hear it in your voice”. Whatever you do will go well if it is authentic, friendly and sincere. I would ask, “is your station standing firmly enough in the word, the hope and the promises of God?”
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and for some extraordinary people. Rather than name them, I would simply say, like recognizing the blessings God has given us, in every circumstance, take a moment to look around you and give thanks to those who are helping you now and going back (if possible) and recognizing personally those who helped you along the way. 50 years of radio has yielded a very long list for me. First, I am thankful to God for placing those people in my life and career path.