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Bill Montgomery Interview

Bill Montgomery
President/CEO
River Radio Ministries
Columbus

 

Career Capsule:

Started in radio in College – Cedarville University – student radio announcer, college radio station weekend operator and announcer

12/1993-9/1997 Sales at Salem owned am880 WRFD in Columbus, OH

9/1997-9/2003 Sales Manager at WRFD in Columbus, OH

10/2003-6/2006 General Sales Manager at Salem Radio Seattle

6/2006-9/2008 Children’s/Men’s Pastor at Alderwood Community Church, Lynnwood, WA

10/2008 – 6/2022 Chief Sales Officer at River Radio Ministries (104.9 the River WCVO-FM)

8/2012 – present Adjunct Professor of Broadcast/Digital Media at Cedarville University

7/2022 – present President/CEO at River Radio Ministries

 

Bill, tell us what’s new at WCVO -The River… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?

Several big changes in the last year – the retirement of Dan Baughman, our former president/CEO of more than 20 years (a true pioneer and innovator) and my adventure of stepping into his shoes as our new president/CEO. It’s been a whirlwind. Another big change has been the launch of our new morning show, very different than what we’ve ever done – 3 people, longer talk breaks, more audience engagement. We’ve also completed a new podcast studio (led by Chad Bradley) and are launching several new podcasts as well as hosting some outside podcasts, as well.

 

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

I heard a speaker in Seattle give the clearest talk on work/life balance…that there is never a balance, per se, as things change in different stages of life, but that we must ALWAYS have Christ on the throne in the center of our life. If we keep Christ at the center, that is going to inform our priorities. I can tell you that I have done it well and done it poorly, but I have never regretted spending more time with my wife, my kids or my friends. Of course the work must get done, but the work will always be there. As I’m getting closer to being an empty nester at home, later nights or weekend work isn’t as big an issue. We try to prioritize family time for our people and few Sunday events, so that we can let our team “have a life.”

 

Overall, what is the best managerial advice you’ve been given? The worst?

The best advice I’ve been given is to take care of your people. I’ve heard that in various forms from my best managers and it has served me well (both positively and negatively).

I don’t know if I’ve been given bad advice, but I’ve had bad management modeled for me – expecting more from your employees than you are willing to do yourself. It is a recipe for disaster.

 

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

Christian Radio is a lifeline to so many listeners. It is what reminds them of hope, faith, peace that all come from Jesus. When you can’t go to church, gather with others, Christian Radio proved to be the glue that held many folks faith together. And our monthly donors reflected that with their giving.

 

What impact did Dan Baughman have on you and your career?

Dan Baughman has had a tremendous impact on my career, as a pioneer, an innovator and a visionary leader. He stood up to incredible push back early in his time at the radio station because he believed in the CCM format and he believed that Christian Radio should sound every bit as good as our mainstream competitors. He was laughed at…until he accomplished it. He taught me that we don’t settle, we strive for excellence. Personally, he also has been a caring leader that has demonstrated a people first mentality. He has shown selflessness in ways he would never want folks to know to make sure that others needs are met. He’s been a true blessing to me.

 

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

No one thinks of Columbus as a great city…until you live here. You realize that it has an amazing collaborative atmosphere (just google “the Columbus way”) in the business community that has passed into the faith community (still lots of work to do, but it is exciting). It is the seat of state government, restaurant and retail innovation and leadership (Wendy’s, Cameron Mitchell, Jeni’s, The Limited Brands), contains one of the largest universities in the country (O-H!), has three professional sports stadiums in the downtown, and a nearly recession proof environment because of the economic diversity. While it has its challenges, it’s a great city to live in. Oh, and we have AMAZING coffee, too.

 

Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?

In a word, relevance. Our content must continue to be relevant, both music and DJ’s, so people don’t choose a personally curated playlist over our station. Our content creators must be relevant and accessible – we need to be where the current and future generation is to the best of our ability – social media, YouTube, mobile app, smart home devices. The message of Jesus is ALWAYS relevant so we never have to change that, but we must present Him in a winsome way. I loved what Brant Hanson said in a breakout at Momentum in 2022 – he and Sherri do their best not to be a “trip wire” to a listener…they don’t want to be an obstacle with something they say that prevents someone seeing Jesus. Love that thought. My words here: if Jesus is the trip wire, that’s fine. I just don’t want my station to be the trip wire in getting to Jesus.

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

I have been a radio listener since I was a little kid listening to Bob Devine on WMBI in Chicago in the 70s. I have too many people over the years that have helped me to name them all, because as a whole, radio people have been very generous with their time and resources. Let me name a couple:

Jim Houser (EMF) – took my under his wing in student radio at Cedarville. Changed my career trajectory and my life. One of the finest human beings I know.

Mike Reed (Salem) – took a chance on a kid out of college with no sales experience and let me sell radio in a top 50 market. Best career move I ever made.

Dan Craig (Moody) – modeled and coached leadership in 20-something kids and eventually promoted me to sales management because he believed in me. He walked alongside me for 7+ years, celebrating wins and coaching up losses. A true mentor.

Dan Baughman (River Radio Ministries – retired) – see question 5

Paul Harvey (IYKYK) – The greatest storyteller radio has ever known. RIP

Roy Williams (The Wizard of Ads) – The teaching of Roy Williams through his books, classes at Wizard Academy and a few personal conversations shaped my advertising career and helped me make many, many businesses wildly successful when they advertised on a station that Arbitron said had no listeners.

2 thoughts on “Bill Montgomery Interview

  • Great insight! Keep up the great work! I love Columbus. It’s a great town, not to mention that I worked at WCVO when I was a kid!

    Reply
  • I worked with Bill for many years in Seattle. He is a man of integrity and worked incredibly hard. I have been so pleased to see the path he’s walked, and know he has so much more to give in the future.

    Reply

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