Dennis Hutchinson Interview 2-11-19
Brief Career Capsule: My first job in radio was back in 1990 at a small country station in Tawas, MI. After 5 years as a PD for an A-C startup, I moved into Christian radio in 1998 as a part of the morning team on Family Life Radio. A year ago I moved to northern Michigan again, as the APD/Afternoons at The Promise-FM.
Dennis, tell us what’s new at WPHN… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
I just celebrated my 1st anniversary here, and it has been super busy. We’re putting the finishing touches on a major studio upgrade, along with being able to replace some aging transmitters. Right now we’re holding Michigan’s Biggest Baby Shower, helping collect items for close to a dozen Pregnancy Care Centers in northern Michigan. God is faithful.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I think the thing that makes any station stand out is the people, and giving them the freedom to be who they are. I think that’s the strength of what we’ve done here at The PromiseFM – putting together a team with different strengths, and then letting each of us play to those strengths. A big part of our mission is to impact our communities for Christ, and we’ve tried very hard to have a positive presence in the community, not only at the different events that take place but in our personal lives, giving of our time for causes that are important to us.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best: In a coaching session once, Tommy Kramer told me “Never be afraid to be criticized by idiots.” This is my motto.
Worst: There was a lot of bad advice, especially early on, but fortunately I’ve forgotten most of it.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I don’t think more is necessarily better or worse, just so long as they are differentiated and keep in mind their first mission is to serve Christ. Two stations can be too many if they’re doing everything the same & trying to beat each other up.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
Time alone. After doing mornings for a lot of years, I’m still a bit of an early bird .. now I use that time to take stock of myself. Oh, & coffee. Gotta have that.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Everywhere, just like it is now. There is talent in Christian radio now that has come from all kinds of places – Christian colleges, secular radio, podcasts. Anywhere that is producing content people want to see/hear.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Life. People seem to be busier than ever. I think of the number of things I was involved in when I was in school (in the stone ages) and compare it to what my kids’ and grandkids’ schedules look like now and I don’t know how they do it. We have to make sure not only that we’re offering them something they like, but we are finding new ways to do it so it doesn’t interfere, but compliments their life.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I grew up a little north of Detroit, so as a kid it was folks like the late Byron MacGregor on CKLW, Ken Calvert and Dick Purtan who helped get me interested – and Dick Kernen at Specs Howard, who’s been training tomorrow’s broadcasters for more than 40 years.
I love to watch the way folks like Brant & Sherri and Lisa Barry engage listeners on social media. Mostly it’s been the people I’ve worked with: Fred Young, Shannyn Caldwell, and especially Peter Brooks at Family Life Radio. I have not known a better leader, or more humble or polished professional than he.
2 thoughts on “Dennis Hutchinson Interview 2-11-19”
Good interview Dennis. I didn’t know you grew up around Detroit. I grew up in Southfield where my High School had a radio station. I also built a back yard radio station and took it north to Lake Ogemaw on my parent’s property. We set up 4 stations planned for 2 weeks of broadcasting, cut short by an FCC visit. Peter knows the other side of this story as he was working at WBMB West Branch at the time, the station that turned us in. Memories of Michigan.
Nice job Dennis….I didn’t realize you were from the D originally….so was I. Spent the first 10 years in the city limits, then out to Warren where I graduated from Warren Mott as their 1st graduating class. Many of your influences were the same as mine. I remember coming home from school and watching ‘Swinging Time” with Robin Seymor from CKLW. Kenny Calvert hired me to work at WABX in ’77…and I’m a Specie…so I have the utmost respect for Dick Kernan. God Bless you guys at the Promise for expanding the Kingdom. See you down the road….