Chalmer Harper Interview

Chalmer Harper
Music Director
SOS Radio Network
Las Vegas

Career Capsule: 2001-2008 : WCQR, Johnson City, TN :: Production, Music, Asst. PD, Program Director, On-Air Talent, 2008-2010 : KWND, Springfield, MO :: Program Director, Music Director, On-Air Talent, 2010-2015 : KWND, Springfield, MO :: Station Manager, On-Air Talent, 2015 – 2019: KWND/KWFC, Springfield, MO :: General Manager, On-Air Talent, 2019 – Present: KSOS, Las Vegas, NV :: Music Director, On-Air Talent

 

Chalmer, tell us what’s new at SOS Radio… latest news, changes, & what’s new with YOU… etc?

Over the past six months, it has been wonderful to join the Family that is SOS Radio. No moves have been made since I came on board, but great things have been happening in serving the community of Las Vegas, and our network communities. We have found new ways to connect, and become solution providers to some of our community’s greatest needs…I have to hand it to Robert Forbes (Promotions), Scott Herrold (PD), and Mo Hofman (Community Engagement) – They are a dream team!  We have been able to bless kids with school supplies, provide Gift Cards and Bicycles for children whose parents are incarcerated, and we have been leaders in prayer initiatives for Las Vegas’ Metro Police.

Everything is new with me 🙂  New station, new home, new schools, new church, (re)newed outlook and perspective on life, faith, community commitments…God has been so kind and generous through it all. Things are getting better every single day.

 

Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?

Christian Radio has become incredibly competitive, and that is wonderful! People are longing for hope, light, connection, and entertainment, and they are finding it on Christian radio, because it offers all of those things in compelling ways. What makes SOS stand out? In a day where voicetracking is often the default, SOS still values the live show. It is a refreshing perspective. It allows our talent to be a part of our listeners’ lives in real time. I love that! It constantly reminds me of why many of us got into radio in the first place – The thrill of live radio.

 

What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?

I believe one of the best pieces of advice that I have received is to be ‘present’ within your show. Know what that song is about; use it as a springboard for your stories, a touch point of worship, let the show have ebb and flow – let your listeners respond to what God is saying through you, the music, the other phone calls…Your presence matters to your listeners, your PD, and most importantly to Jesus.

I know the phrase is ‘imitation is the highest form of compliment,’ but I still think one of the worst pieces of advice I have received actually came in the form of a question…Why can’t you sound more like this person? I felt like it caused me to doubt any abilities that I had – I couldn’t be Chalmer Harper, because Chalmer Harper didn’t matter. I was asked to be a clone. So…Please don’t be afraid to be you. Your perspective, storytelling ability, prayers, devotions, laughter, tears…ALL OF YOU is valuable and adds so much to your stations.

 

Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?

More Christian stations can help you take a long, hard look at what you are doing, and help you become better at serving your listeners. Also, more Christian stations can mean more variety in formats of Christian radio, and thus, more people reached. Now, if a bunch of Christian stations are in a market, and each truly care for the ministry that each one brings to the table; desire to sharpen each other; celebrate the wins of each ministry; work together on service projects, and don’t care who gets the recognition, as long as God is glorified…Then, you’ve got a bit of Heaven on Earth. Thing is – that kind of environment doesn’t typically happen. More times than not, you find things get territorial. All of a sudden you are competing, comparing, undermining the others’ value, flaunting your superiority, or loathing your inferiority, and ignoring each other in the common market.

 

How would you describe the SOS Radio audience?

The SOS Radio audience is so engaged, and they do not take their faith for granted. You’d be surprised at how many people long to live a life to make Jesus famous. Many have come through a lot before knowing the freedom of redemption, restoration, forgiveness, and peace…I believe that is why their love for Christ is so genuine. They know the transforming power of the Gospel. It isn’t heritage. They also interact so well! They share their stories, God moments, their prayer requests. They serve in or give to community projects. They love to come and meet and greet us, as well.

 

In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?

I believe we need to take a serious look at mental health. Counseling, and/or life coaching for our industry. Make it the standard to offer help, and compassion, instead of being taboo. Many of us deal with an enormous amount of stress – wearing several hats in the office, managing expectations in and out of the studio, balancing families, finances, leading public lives. Burnout is real. Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Shame is real. They are powerful forces, and they are tearing many of us apart from the inside out. It is hard to know who to trust, if you need to talk. I believe that bringing peace to so many of us who hide these things away would transform our industry.

 

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

I think we are still in need of attracting talent. Finding those special people who will continue to move our industry forward in content creation, and drawing people to an authentic relationship with Jesus. When you have all you need to create your own content, create a global audience, and run your own business…How do you convince those talented Christians to come and be a part of your station, and stay? I have seen the struggle first hand. Fortunately, I was able to convince some incredible talent to be a part of creating something that they could never do on their own. They were amazing communicators with a love for Jesus, and a heart for impacting our community…Where did I find them? Believe it or not, I didn’t have to go further than my circle of influence.

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

Is this where I do my Mike Couchman shout out? 😉 I’m such a hodgepodge of influence from soaking in live music to lots of theatrical experience, leading worship music at church, and to many hang times, phone calls, emails, and texts with our friends in our amazing industry…I am grateful for you all! Honestly, my radio heroes are you…You, who are on the front lines every single day…working so hard to create, tell your story, connect, be vulnerable, learn, teach, raise funds, budget those funds, keep the transmitters running, grow the ministry, serve the community, and love God and others with all that you’ve got. What you do matters, and transforms lives!

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