Career Capsule: I’ve been a musician and a fan of radio as long as I can remember. The thing is, I never really considered radio as a career until I got in it for myself. I spent 19 years in a communications career with the US Army – a job that blessed my family with worldwide travel and three children with different birthplaces – including a daughter born in Germany. After retiring, I began working with Christian concert promoters as a wordsmith and graphic designer, which led (in a roundabout way) to a call from a fairly new CCM station – WCLN-FM in Fayetteville, NC. I started on the marketing team in 1999, and quickly moved into production and on air work. As the company grew, I landed a gig in 2004 as General Manager of (as many as 4 stations in) our North Carolina group.
Dan… Tell us what’s new at Christian 107… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
WCLN is moving. Frequencies, that is. With due credit to Nielsen for redefining our market, we were presented the opportunity to reach the remainder of the Fayetteville, NC Metro as a rated station by simply moving our CCM-oriented programming onto our sister station’s frequency. The stations are family owned, and as the head of Christian Listening Network decided to depart radio with no family interested in carrying the mantel, the company my wife and I started is taking over what is currently WGQR-FM. In the transition of selling both stations, we are swapping call letters to become WCLN – 105.7 FM. All that to say: we are busy. Moving an audience we’ve worked hard to grow and serve for the past 18 years takes a little finesse, and has served as an invigorating challenge for the team – all of which is making the move with us.
Christian radio is very competitive… what strategies do you use to stand out in the crowd?
One of our strategies is not to tell everyone what our strategies are. (Thanks for the operational security training, US Army.) Truthfully, the best strategies all involve listening. Listen to your audience. Listen to your clients. Listen to your competitors. Listen to the music in your inbox. Listen to the music that’s NOT in your inbox. And, of course, listen to that still, small voice that speaks peace into your storm. You can’t be different by “…doing what the other guy did”, but you CAN be different by doing what they didn’t do.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best advice was to quit believing everyone in the Christian radio audience fits into a certain age/gender demographic. They don’t. I promise.
My wife and I recently attended a sold-out Kirk Franklin/Tye Tribette concert held across the parking lot from a Gaither Vocal Band show. The lot was packed, and we arrived a little late and had to park on the “wrong” side. The parking attendant tried to steer direct to the Gaither show because of what we looked like.
Assumptions make you look insincere at best.
The worst advice came in the form of music rotation and
playlist suggestions. Still does.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I definitely agree that more Christian stations in the market is a healthy thing – for everyone involved. We work in synergy with other local stations – Christian and secular. Each station can do something the other(s) can’t or won’t. It’s about being present in your market. I’m not down on Christian radio as an industry, but I do believe that if you want to known as survive as a local station, you’ve got to serve your market. If you want heartbroken listeners recovering from a devastating weather situation to punch out as you enter day one of overtime on your pledge drive from an unaffected studio 1,000 or more miles away, go for it. Local stations will be there helping them dig out.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
Quiet time. And a warm, caffeinated beverage. And I realize that’s two.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
If we’re smart, it will come from our generational downline. We need young(er) people we can mentor around us all the time. We have to take time to make the truth of the Gospel real and believable to them. Then we have to realize the world they grew up in isn’t the same ours was, and listen to their ideas and suggestions.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Honestly, I feel like our biggest obstacle is ourselves. I observe a tendency to follow each other more than we follow God. Being created for “…such a time as this” isn’t some romantic phrase we get to employ at random. It should be an everyday thing.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Mark Pluimmer gave me some solid advice in guiding me around naysayers as I came into Christian radio management. I have long revered him as someone who kept his hand on the plow in whatever field needs working. Sincere men & women with great voices are pretty okay, too.