Feature InterviewInterviews

David Harms Interview 10-14-16

David Harms
President & Creative Principle
i58:10 Media
Wilsonville, OR

Career Capsule: The “radio bug” bit me when I was 16 and was asked to read Sports on the local college radio station over Thanksgiving Break. In college I was a Broadcast Major and, among other duties, hosted a weekly two hour Christian music radio show.  Back then there wasn’t much Christian music so two hours a week was about all I could fill.  I worked my way through college at numerous commercial radio stations in the area, and then after college I worked full time at WPIC (Sharon, PA), then WGGN (Sandusky, Ohio) before starting at WMUZ (Detroit, MI) where I served in Production and Marketing and even was PD before transferring to Portland, OR to become GM of KLVS. After five years as GM I started The Idea Agency raising money for Rescue Missions, but also eventually World Vision.  After 11 years The Idea Agency was acquired by Russ Reid Company and I started over as i58:10 Media where I serve as President.

  1. David, Tell us what’s new at i58:10 Media… and with you?

From the very beginning our heartbeat has been about supporting mission work. That certainly means radio fundraising for World Concern, Rescue Missions and other ministries, but the biggest growth we’ve seen in the last two years has been in radio station fundraising. We now work with over 25 radio stations.  Along that line, we’ve been doing a lot more coaching and training of radio station personnel. By investing in the radio station’s own Hosts they can rely less on i58:10 Media for their fundraising – which is the goal.

Our staff has grown significantly as well.  Just in the last year we’ve added several highly qualified people in production, Hosting, Account Management and Project Management. It’s a great team.

In the midst of all the growth I’ve been working hard on changing my style of management from “Doing” to “Leading”.  As such we’ve started to make some significant internal changes with how the team operates.  As a team we’ve re-vamped our Core Values and also recently adopted a new Mission Statement: To Inspire and Activate Generosity for a Broken World.

2. Tell us little about the history of  i58:10 Media?

i58:10 Media is founded in 2008 on Isaiah 58:10 which says “Feed the hungry and help those in trouble, then your light will shine out of the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as day.”  As I mentioned earlier, our heartbeat is missions.  That comes out of my personal frustration with actually not being called to go directly into mission work in Africa. It’s a long story with, unfortunately, lots of heartache, but it was very clear to me that as much as I wanted to go to Africa and be a missionary it just wasn’t what God had in mind.  Maybe someday, but for now we feel like our calling is to provide ministries with the “financial fuel” so they can be the “boots on the ground” in expanding God’s Kingdom.

3. What is the best and worst programming advice you’ve been given?

Dennis Constantine who was PD at KINK-FM in Portland as well as KFOG in San Francisco once said to me “You guys produce ‘stay in the car’ stories. That’s what makes good radio.  Make your narrative so compelling that even if the listener gets to their destination they stay in their car just to hear the story.” It was both a high compliment and great programming advice, especially coming from the PD of a general market, music-driven, format.  That comment was followed by “People don’t mind if you talk, just give them something compelling to listen to.”

Worst Advice? I once had a PD of a Christian radio station say “Just do what you have to do to get the phone to ring.”  I’m not an “end justifies the means” guy so this goes down as a “are you kidding me?” moment.  Thankfully that gentleman is no longer in Christian radio.

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

First, some context from the world of fundraising. At i58:10 Media we say that “people give from different pockets.”  That means we can do a fundraising event for World Concern’s 44c Cure on a station and attract a certain number of people to give because they are excited by the idea of healing a lot of kids in the developing world. That same radio station could also have an equally successful fundraising campaign for their local rescue mission and attract a certain number of people to give because they want to feed the hungry in their community.  Different people respond to different needs. Someone who gives to the 44c Cure may never give to their local mission and vice versa – they give from different pockets.

However, in fundraising the idea that “people give from different pockets” can only go so far.  If the audience is constantly approached with a funding opportunity it can wear thin on the ears and patience of an audience.  In the long run it may be wise to limit those opportunities so that we don’t turn off an audience thereby diminishing the effectiveness of the campaigns that are aired.  I Corinthians 6:12 probably comes into play here when Paul writes “I have the right to do anything” you say – but not everything is beneficial.”

So, on the subject of radio stations in a market… On one hand I agree with that statement because the goal of the Believer is to become more and more like Christ – to be conformed to His image – and then out of that internal transformation proclaim that Kingdom to world in need of it. So, whatever we can do to bring that Kingdom to our communities the better. Therefore, the more Christian radio the better.

On the other hand, we know of a Christian radio station where you can pick up 14 other Christian radio stations in their parking lot.  There has to be a point where for greater effectiveness listeners have fewer options.

But I also feel the need to say that I like and believe in “iron sharpening iron” and that competition isn’t a bad thing. Competition makes everyone better – or at least it should.  I know it makes me better.  I also happen to be more of a capitalist and believe that with an even playing field the best product on the market will win. Did you know IBM actually invented the Smart Phone?  But it wasn’t until Apple came along with the iPhone that Smart Phones really took off.  Why?  Because iPhones were better!  The iPhone dominated the Smart Phone market quickly, but Samsung came along and now holds a greater market share for Smart Phones.  Who wins?  We all do because we have choices, plus we have engineers at both Apple and Samsung trying to figure out how to make things even better. Healthy competition like that is good for everyone.

5. What is the ONE thing(s) you would tell a PD to prepare for a Sharathon?

The answer to this question could be a whole book, but if I had to boil it down to one thing it would be straight from I Corinthians 2:3-5:

 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.

During a fundraiser it is critically important to understand that only the Holy Spirit can motivate anybody to give anything. Start with that (and Matthew 6:33) and let your fundraising strategy go from there.

6. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?

Honestly?  My opinion is that air talent will not come from traditional places.  Good on-air talent will be interesting people who will need to learn “radio” (and you’ll have to define radio differently).  Compelling content from compelling people will connect like never before. I think listeners are more interested in interesting people so look for them anywhere…in the grocery store, at your kid’s school, on Facebook.

7. What is the most memorable moment you’ve had on a Sharathon?

I was deeply convicted during a fundraiser when I saw a $10,000 gift come in and then the very next gift was for, literally, $1.27. It’s too easy to celebrate the $10,000 and then overlook the $1.27.  Or, worse yet, celebrate the $10,000 gift and use the $1.27 gift as an “angle.”  It was the story of the Widow’s mite in real life.

But I also have to say that last week we helped with an event where a listener became a monthly donor after discovering the station just 10 minutes earlier.  Amazing.

8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

Paul Harvey.  A Master Storyteller who could endorse a product and make you feel so good about buying it. Remember “Paaaaaaaage 2”?

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