Feature InterviewInterviews

Adam Hannan Interview

Adam Hannan
Station Manager
KNWS – Life 101.9
Waterloo/Cedar Rapids


Career Capsule: Adam enjoyed editing audio on his cassette player in junior high. But the possibility of a career in radio was first on his radar after accidentally signing up for a broadcasting class at the University of Northwestern. Taking Yogi Berra’s advice, when he saw a fork in the road, he took it, turning down a contract for professional wrestling and taking a part time job at KTIS in the Twin Cities. He moved his family to Brainerd, MN and became Program Director at The Pulse before moving south to tropical Iowa. He’s now the Station Manager and Morning Show co-host at Life 101.9 in Waterloo/Cedar Rapids, and took 2nd place at the 2018 Iowa State Fair Milk Chugging Tournament.


Tell us what’s new at Life 101.9… any news, changes, etc… and what’s new with YOU?

It’s been an exciting year of transition. Every full-time member of our team at Life 101.9 except for our engineer is either new to our station or new to their position. There is a vibrant energy from a team who is driven by our mission and who love what they do. 


How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life’?

Don’t just live your life. Decide to live an adventure! The best show prep content is born out of your life experience. So go places. Do things. Be with your people. Go into the gas station and talk to a human. Take pictures of anything/everything that’s interesting. Jot down fun things your kids say. Take screen shots of your friend’s engaging Facebook post. If you want to be interesting on-air, you have to be interesting off-air!


Tell us about your transition to GM… Challenges, surprises, what did you learn?

Northwestern Media loves to equip its people for excellence and promote from within. So when our Manager was called to go over to KTIS in the Twin Cities, I was moved up from Program Director to Manager, and my superstar APD, Jenn Pooler, was ready to be a rock star Program Director.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in this role took place when I first started leading, and one of our staff members unexpectedly passed away. That was a big blow for our team and our community. But as we mourned his death, we were reminded about the very real hope we have in Jesus. So our mission continues as we lead people to Christ and nurture believers in their spiritual growth. It matters!


What’s something you’ve learned about Christian Radio due to the pandemic, that you didn’t know before?

Throughout the pandemic, I think there were things we knew that were validated.

-Our listeners (and potential listeners) need constant reminders of hope.

-We have the ability to do our work remotely if necessary and do it with excellence and creativity. In-person/in-studio is still better, though.

-There is value in “water-cooler talk”. Talking and laughing at work is great for building community and developing ideas within your team.


Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years? Generally speaking to the industry, what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?

I think one of the obstacles facing Christian radio is filling key positions with qualified candidates who want to move into your market. It may take some creatively and future-thinking to put more people into a shrinking talent pool.

At Life 101.9, we’ve hired local people from outside of radio who are likeable, coachable, and are good at communicating. One of our phone volunteers during fundraisers is now co-hosting our Morning Show and is doing an incredible job!

We also have a couple broadcasting students from the University of Northwestern recording weekend shifts for us and receiving regular coaching. They’ll graduate with developed skills and a real air-check.


What is a unique characteristic for your market (or station), that many wouldn’t know about?

JOY seems to be a characteristic that is unmistakable at our station. Real, authentic, contagious joy! I can’t brag on them enough… the team assembled here in Eastern Iowa have crazy amounts of fun exercising creativity to tell listeners about the love of Jesus and finding practical ways to love our communities!

I’ll admit, it’s also pretty fun that our station has it’s own snow cone machine, and that there are roller coasters across the street from the studio. But ultimately it’s the mission that excites our team. I love it!


Who are your radio heroes and influences? Why?

When I was just out of college, I remember watching a young Lisa Williams at GMA tracking down her radio heroes to STUDY them! It was inspiring to see her determination to get better by learning from some of the best in the industry.

There are so many people that I’ve been studying who have impressed and influenced me. Lisa is one of them.

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