Darin Patzer Interview

Darin Patzer
General Manager
KEEH
Spokane

Career Capsule: MBA (Business) from Andrews University in Michigan (1998) A native of Spokane, WA in the NW. Wife Natalie and a teenage son and daughter

 

Darin, tell us what’s new at KEEH… news, changes, & what’s new with YOU… etc?

Ted, thank you for this opportunity with HisAir.net. KEEH-FM was founded 27 years ago (in 1993) in the Spokane, WA and Coeur d’ Alene, ID metro market. Within about 10 years, God had blessed the station with a significant power increase – which came with a miracle – simultaneously a new tower was approved on a premier hilltop location during a time when the local county had a moratorium on building towers. With those two gifts, slowly but surely with God’s blessing, the station has risen to the point of last fall becoming the top rated station broadcasting in the market – ranked #1 across all demographics (peaking with a 7.3 share). Not a common feat for a Christian radio format! (Copyright Nielsen share estimates, November 2019, Mon-Sun, 12+)

 

Your station has a had a great deal of success recently can you tell us about it?

Three and a half years ago KEEH left a regional network which had provided solid service to the station for many years, due to differing ministry visions with the network. Our local KEEH board voted to re-brand (as Shine 104.9), and to focus more intentionally on localizing to serve our communities. During this time, after seeing their booth at the CMB Conference in Florida, we reached out to Paul Tipton and John Hamilton to learn about partnering with Christian FM (SmartRadio Suite). The ability to get the best music (PD) research, while accessing top-level announcers to mix in with our own local announcers, staff and programming has been a highly successful model which has served our local community well, as seen from the recent station ranking.

 

As far as the ratings increases what do you credit that to the most?

In may sound old-school or simpleton, but I don’t care, because it’s the truth and so I’ll keep giving the credit where credit is due. The scripture we feature prominently on the wall at our radio station sums up well our success, it says: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)  Over the years, I have seen God move His hand of favor in indisputable ways as if moving around chess pieces. If we’re each honest, we know that no matter how hard we may work, without God’s blessing our efforts will fall completely flat. I believe it’s when we stay humble and give God the credit He is due, that then He can bless our efforts. Another scripture that sums up this thought: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6) One other testimony I would add, is that while we aren’t “preachy,” we have never steered away from encouraging our announcers to be bold and authentic in sharing their relationship with Christ on their shows. Listeners want awesome music, but they also come to Christian radio for something deeper. We’ve seen God bless our ratings, finances and community influence, by being “real” with our faith – all the way to the #1 ranking!

 

With the increase in audience have you see that translate in revenue?   Explain…

Donor revenue saw an increase again last year. And due to our partnership with Christian FM we are able to operate on a very reasonable budget with our modest staff. Donor loyalty – I believe success has come to KEEH over the years as we have intentionally opened up our airwaves and our website to promoting the outreach events of OTHER Christian ministries of our local community. Inviting pastors and ministry leaders into our studio each month, airing their interviews on the station, having the mayor and police chief visit on multiple occasions – promoting local Christian church and ministry events at little to no cost – this has built tremendous local loyalty. We also have a ‘Shine Gives Back’ program which allows the station to share some of our overflow with other local ministries. Further, our listeners have helped dig dozens of wells in rural Central American villages, giving back internationally. All of this shows that the station is invested and cares about the local community and the underprivileged of the world, rather than just being self-serving.

 

What’s your opinion on podcasts… is it necessary to have one, are they a threat to radio… etc?

Hey, the more ways we can share Christ the better in my opinion!

 

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

Interesting question. Shine 104.9 has been blessed in this market in that there is a great mix of formats. Besides our Contemporary Christian format, Spokane also has Christian Talk stations, Christian Country, as well as Air1 and Way-FM all hitting different genres, and even Moody Radio programming with a slightly older target. I would just like to express my gratitude to EMF/K-Love, they have such an awesome ministry, but they have also, at times, paid attention to existing successful local radio stations in some markets like Spokane. Duplication of formats could ultimately hurt the market, but Spokane is blessed with a great mix of Christian radio formats, currently. I believe the balanced mix of stations has tremendously blessed God’s Church, and His work in making Spokane a ‘Lighthouse’ city for His kingdom.

 

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

The Bible says we have “an adversary,” the devil, who is not happy with any Christian influence in this world where he considers himself “prince.” I believe Christian radio is one of the single greatest forces holding back the flood of atheism in our world today. Think about the power of having the freedom to turn on the microphone and share the Bible, or music with scriptural lyrics. The reality is, the music being put out by Contemporary Christian artists today (along with other Christian genres) rivals any of the best mainstream music being released. There is a reason the Billboard charts and the Grammy awards have to take notice of Christian music. More than just being positive entertainment, the Christian lyrics and programs contain hope for listeners searching for encouragement in this dark age in which we find ourselves living. It’s also exciting to me to see Hollywood starting to promote more Christian-themed box office movies, including those featuring the life stories of Christian artists like Bart Millard and Jeremy Camp, or evangelist Billy Graham in the “Unbroken” movie sequel. So many Believers in our world today do not share these privileges. America is God’s gift to the world, in many ways. But how long will Christians continue to have these freedoms, I suppose is the obstacle or threat. Even in countries like China and Iran where Christianity is persecuted, there is incredible growth and hunger for truth. I believe our generation is seeing the fulfillment of Christ’s promise that just before He returns in glory, “this gospel of the kingdom will go to all the earth, and then the end shall come.”

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

I have a lot of heroes, but just a few:

My mentors: Mike Agee GM (KJRN, TX), Jon Hull (KSBJ, Houston). I’ve been blessed to learn at the knee of some of the best in the industry.

Paul Tipton, John Hamilton and Paul Goldsmith of Christian FM (SmartRadio Suite). These 3 guys are visionaries in bringing top level air talent and music research to smaller, local communities, and they are humble servants of Christ. If you’re running a small market Christian radio ministry, get in touch pronto!

Announcers: Dave Arthur and Don Godman (KTSY, Boise, ID), and Lorenda Rae Edwards (KEEH-FM, Spokane). Top-level talents, who daily bring excellence and have allowed our station to become top-ranked. They are each just quality human beings who love Jesus.

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