Career Capsule: I can’t remember a time where music was not part of my life. It seems to be part of my DNA. I am the son of a professional musician. Beginning in grade school, I was in and out of clubs helping set up sound and lighting equipment. By junior high school I was playing with my dad on stage on the weekends. I grew up in a Christian home, but during high school I became serious about my faith and recommitted my life to Jesus. In 1999 I opened a recording studio. I was recording singer/songwriters, worship teams, so many punk bands and also began recording voice overs of out-of-work fashion models. That was my first hint of anything to do with radio. My business partner had moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and invited me to apply for a job at Clear Channel radio. My first on-air radio job was on 94.1 KODJ, the super hits of the 60s and 70s! After about a year I took my first Christian radio job in 2005 in Visalia, California at 88.9 KDUV FM. A couple years later I returned to my hometown, a suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and worked for Infinity Broadcasting (Jack FM), Salem Media Group, and eventually KTIS, Northwestern Media. While at KTIS, I was sent to Belize, Central America to help train broadcasters. I fell in love with the people and had a desire to help train Belizean broadcasters. I began to invest time and brought supplies to a small station on the island of Ambergris Caye. A couple of years later I ended up moving to the island with a team of five people where I served as the worship pastor for a satellite location of Sagebrush Church (Albuquerque, New Mexico). What had originally brought me to the island was Christian radio but during my time, I ended up spending more time leading worship and training worship leaders. In 2015 I returned to the United States and began working for PraiseLive radio where I’ve been doing afternoons for eight years.
I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Carolyn. In June, we celebrated 22 years together. We have three fantastic children, the oldest, Mitchel, just started at Northwestern University in Saint Paul. My middle son, Alex, is a junior and my daughter, Eliana is a sophomore in high school.
Chaz, tells us what’s new at PraiseLive, and what’s new with YOU?
I’ve been the afternoon host at PraiseLive since 2015 after returning from Belize, Central America where I served as a missionary. During this time we’ve gone from having an FM signal in the Twin Cities, moving to an HD signal, and then a couple years ago EMF invited us to purchase back the signal we were originally on, KNOF 95.3. Along with the signal in the Twin Cities PraiseLive also has three additional FM signals in West Central Minnesota. Additionally, our programming is heard across approximately 40 FM signals in African nations. And it is available across the entire continent of Africa to homes via satellite.
It’s weird to say this out loud but I’ve been a broadcaster for 19 years. That seems like a long time and it makes me feel old. In the season of my career I found a lot of joy in training international broadcasters. I started a hobby project a couple years ago with people around the world called GlobalWorshipRadio.com.
In its brief history, Global Worship Radio has had broadcasters from the Philippines, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Colombia and the United States. A few have a broadcasting background. Most of these beautiful Christian people I’ve gotten to know through their testimonies on social media, and through those interactions I’ve asked if they would be interested in learning to broadcast Christian radio. I started out my ministry career as a youth pastor and since the days at my first Christian radio station in Visalia, California, I’ve always had a heart for our younger audience. This side project is about encouraging the next generation of worshipers to connect with Jesus.
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
Having a life is vitally important. For some broadcasters, what they do on-air might be a bit of a character they play. I don’t say that with any disrespect. One of the most talented Christian broadcasters I’ve ever met describes who he is on the air as a suit that he gets to take off at the end of the day. I can’t do that. That’s not who I am.
Who I am on the air is who I am at home. And that’s the reason that having a life is so important. What comes out of me on the air is a reflection of what’s going on in my personal life and my life spiritually.
I have three teenage children and as any parent knows they are all unique. In these last couple years it’s become harder and harder to connect with them because they’ve become busy individuals with their friends, their jobs, their responsibilities at school, and after school sports and plays. With their differences I enjoy each of my kids immensely and I’m always looking for ways to intentionally connect with them.
With my youngest she’s most like me- she loves people and she also likes to stay up late. Many times we connect by watching old sitcoms. She’s also the most vocal about her time in God’s word so we connect by chatting through the Scripture she’s reading.
My middle son in many ways is the opposite of me – he’s introverted, he’s well read, and he has a fun sense of humor because he’s always observing. I will regularly steal some of his funny lines and use them on-air.
My oldest just started college. He’s a talented drummer on worship teams and whenever possible I love to have him play when I’m leading worship. And when I discover there’s a gap in his schedule it’s easy to get him to connect over a meal (he especially loves Culver’s).
My amazing wife and I have been married 22 years. We met in high school Spanish class. This will sound a bit dull but one my favorite time to connect with my wife is when we go to the grocery store. As we walk up and down those aisles together we are talking about our kids and things from the week. The activity itself is mundane- looking for the week’s food on endless shelves and refrigerators. But there’s something about the slower pace of wandering the aisles that allows us to have important connection time. At least a couple times a year we prioritize having a weekend away. We like heading to the North Shore along Highway 61 that runs next to Lake Superior. We’ll usually get a hotel room up there for the weekend, hike around, see some waterfalls, and find a good place to eat.
Behind my relationship with God, my family is my first priority. They are my first ministry. On-air ministry comes out of my time with them and the Lord.
What is something about your market that would surprise outsiders?
Minnesota is labeled the land of 10,000 lakes but we actually have 11,842 lakes. Lake life is a real thing in our listening area. Every summer people head north to cabins in the woods and lake homes. In Minnesota sometimes church attendance in the cities is light but churches in the northern or rural areas are bustling.There are even Christian broadcast ministries in the north that have their on-air fundraisers only in the summer because of all the summer tourists that enjoy their station.
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
It sounds simple but prayer should not be underestimated. When I was at Northwestern media/KTIS I had the privilege of being part of the start of the Prayer Works service, now known as the Amen Prayer App. My job was to write and create all the promos. I’m still using it today personally and on-air. During the pandemic there was a real bump in the usage of our “prayer wall.” Anytime we do a public event people seek me out to tell me how much they appreciate my colleagues and me praying for them on-air. I know that not all stations do that. In the past I’ve have even been told by a consultant not to pray. But it’s a huge connection point with our listeners locally and around the world. To me it’s a way that we can facilitate as broadcasters what we read in the Bible: to carry each other’s burdens and pray without ceasing.
What are your thoughts on AI & how will it impact Christian Radio?
I’m sure some see AI as a threat or an indication that Jesus is coming back but I get excited about technology and how we can use it for Kingdom work. I know that someone could sample my voice and type brakes that sound like me but there’s no soul in that even if it’s articulating truth. And Listener’s are smart. They know when you’re not telling the truth. It goes back to what I said previously about my personal life, my spiritual life, and my honor – work comes out of what’s happening in the good, the bad, and the ugly. A computer can’t do that. The best you can do is have a talented writer try to duplicate that.
I think of using AI for things like weather updates or, depending on the station, short news clips. I know AI has much greater capability than this, but it would allow you to be up to the minute with these type of features.
I would also love to learn how to use AI to further engage visitors to my website. Of course gaining additional listeners is great, but with the goal having them engage further in the message behind the song. That’s what Christian radio is all about – that they would hear something in a lyric about healing, or hope for the hopeless, or about the God that’s pursuing a relationship them.
If there’s a way that we can use AI through our apps or websites to help take a passive listener to become more active and seeking who Jesus is, I’m all about using AI. If you’re a tech who knows how to do this please email me 🙂
In your Christian Radio career, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
I’m so thankful for my first radio job in Salt Lake City, Utah. I worked for seven stations at ClearChannel radio. I was a Producer and I made commercials every day, all week long. There was forced creativity because in secular radio it’s all about speed and the almighty dollar. Each station had its own sound and brand that I needed to be aware of. The music that I played behind a car commercial on the active rock station needed to be different than what I played on the easy listening station or the news station, even if the copy was identical. There’s a real intentionality about what I was creating every day.
A lesson I learned during this time is a phrase I still teach to the broadcasters that I work with today. LESS IS MORE. In the ClearChannel context it was all about making commercials, painting the picture through sound effects and creative copy. Not telling me about every product you have in the grocery store but describing in great detail that one, perfectly ripe, juicy, red, sweet apple. That’s the same thing I try to do every day on-air.
A lot of times we try to do too much. For example, I love reading God’s Word, but for those who haven’t grown up going to church a paragraph of Scriptures is too much. But a simple phrase that Jesus spoke can be a powerful spark of curiosity that causes them to go and read the verse for themselves.
You’ve interviewed many Christian artists over the years, who’s been your favorite and why?
One of my previous stations never planned interviews very well. These were the days when we were still trying to figure out how to do social media. After the artist would be on the air with whatever show they were on, they would send them into the production room and have me cut liners and get some additional content we could use later. The funny thing is I don’t think we ever used anything that I recorded – the liners or any of the 15 minutes of interviews that we did. I was interviewing Kari Jobe who at the time only had a couple songs out. No one told me she was coming and suddenly they brought her into my studio and told me to do my thing. I barely knew who she was and throughout the interview I’m pretty sure I pronounced her first and last name at least four different ways. Kar-ree JoBay was extremely gracious and she never corrected me.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My first radio hero is my program Director at 94.1 KODJ – the super hits of the 60s and 70s. I’m pretty sure he’s not in the industry anymore but he went by Rock’n Rob on the radio in Minneapolis and Salt Lake. Salt Lake City has a unique culture because of the predominance of Mormonism. He helped me understand a little bit more about speaking to the listener. I made a lot of mistakes and he was forgiving. I was in the studio when he called in doing live remotes from car dealerships. He let me regularly fill in during the night spot which was a request show. So I got crazy fast at the shortcut 360, especially because it was an oldies station and all those songs are so short. And lastly I got to emcee a Temptations concert. I greatly appreciate him giving me my first shot.
I’m grateful for my first Christian radio station, 88.9 KDUV FM in Visalia California (now Spirit FM). When I told my bosses in Salt Lake City that I was moving to Central Valley, California they told me that that move was in the wrong direction- toward small town radio. It might be a smaller market but they’ve always tried to do radio at a top level. Within a few months of being there I went from nights to afternoons and they invested in a talent coach for me. I know he gets mentioned all the time but Tommy Kramer’s influence on my career is significant. I still go to his website to review his radio lessons and I do my best to practice and share his lessons with the broadcasters I train around the world.
This is a bit self-serving but today my heroes are the team at GlobalWorshipRadio.com
I’m serious when I say that. These are not people who are trained broadcasters. They are college teachers, radiologist technicians, civil engineers, a farmer’s wife, and ministry leaders who have become skilled Christian broadcasters, all volunteering to help the next generation of worshipers connect with Jesus and know him as Savior. More than just a volunteer team they’ve become close friends and partners in ministry.
Thank you Silvi of Cartagena, Colombia, JoAnne of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Linda of Montreal Canada, Nuno of Lisbon, Portugal, Fredua of Kumasi, Ghana, Vincent of Narobi, Kenya, and Jacqui of George, South Africa.