Davis Watts Interview 5-7-17
Career Capsule: My adventure in Christian radio began as a listener. In 1997 I was a newly single dad with a dead end job in desperate need of hope. That’s when I found Spirit FM 90.5 on my radio dial. I was hooked by the message of love I found and soon made my way back into church. Within 4 years I was confirmed in my Catholic faith and on track toward a degree in theology at Saint Leo University while working as full time youth ministry at my parish. The first thing I did as a youth minister and worship leader was get plugged in with Spirit FM as a volunteer. In 2008 I was offered a position on staff running the evening program geared toward teens. A few years later when our music director left the station I took over that position and moved up to announce the midday air shift.
Davis, Tell us what’s new at WBVM… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
Our station is owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. We just celebrated the installation of a new Bishop for our diocese and we are looking forward to sharing our vision of evangelization through radio with him. We have also began to branch out into creating audio on demand for our listeners in the form of podcasts. Our morning show compiles a daily podcast of their morning content along with some bonus material that never made it to air. We also have four priests in the diocese who are recording a weekly podcast that dives into questions of life and faith in a way that is compelling to millennials. Two of the priests are millennials and the other two minister in local university settings. It’s very exciting to see how the next generation is connecting with their faith.
What is the most memorable promotion you’ve been involved with?
We just love doing promotions that allow us to personally connect with our audience. My most recent favorite was our “birthday” party a few years back where we gave away chances to play human Bingo. Twentyfive people got to bring their family down to the station and we set up a giant bingo card in the parking lot. We made them put on hats as bingo markers when their position on the card was called. It was a BLAST! I was bummed that we didn’t have cake but there was lots of free ice cream thanks to one of our underwriters. The winners scored a trip for four to Ohio for a big music festival.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
That’s a tough one. I think it has something to do with music testing. But I hate taking tests so I ignored it!
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
First I have to say that of course, the more people you have spreading the gospel the better. Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room. While many people believe it’s not politically correct for Christian music stations to be in competition with one another the cold hard reality is that competition still exists. Most Christian stations are listener supported and there are only so many supporters to go around. We have to be ever conscious that, while we are all on the same team in eternity, there is definitely some friendly competition going on in the temporal realm. I think the competition actually helps make Christian radio better. We must strive to be better than the mainstream stations in our market while building brand loyalty within the Christian market in order to secure our donor base. Shared mission is vital when it comes to listener support. We have to work hard to keep our listener informed of our mission while separating ourselves from the other Christian stations that share our market.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job?
Everyone says coffee so I’m going to go with headphones!
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
I approach Christian radio from a ministry perspective so I honestly hope the future air talent comes straight from the pews. People who love the music, love God and have a desire to see the Gospel message shared in a way that is vulnerable and transparent. People who are willing to walk with the listener through every valley and up every mountain. (Shout out to Tauren Wells)
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Remaining relevant in an on demand society. I believe radio will always be in people’s car. But to remain relevant in a Netflix world we will also have to offer additional content they can consume when they want it. When I started in radio the mantra “always leave the audience wanting more.” Today we have the power to provide that “something more” for them thanks to social media and streaming resources.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Mike Couchman at Boost 101.9 in St. Louis is my CHR hero! He is not afraid to take risks and give his audience exactly what they want. I think he gives it to them before they know they want it.