Career Capsule: I was in seminary in 1976, planning to be a college Bible teacher. My wife and I daily watched the 700 Club and I caught the vision of reaching so many more people through Christian broadcasting. After graduating, I would have loved getting a job in Christian TV or film, but the door that opened was radio. Career path: KRMS – Nightime DJ, to KHYM – DJ/News Director, to KLXL- Station Manager, to finally starting my own station, KCVO in 1985. I’ve always been in small markets, but it has been a good ride so far. KCVO has grown into a network of 21 signals.
Jim, tell us what’s new at Spirit FM… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
We just added a new afternoon personality, Amanda Muse, who is doing a great job. My co-host, Brook Ullum, is training to someday become PD. I am working on developing a succession plan for myself and still tryting to find ways to fund a hip-hop/pop Christian station.
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I think it comes down to our people. You can hear great music on a lot of stations, but you can only hear Jim & Brook, Jackie, or Amanda on Spirit FM. We try to go to events that we know others stations mostly likely will not.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best: Have fun on the radio! Make being a Christ follower something that people want to be, too. Worst: Play every kind of Christian music on the same station.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
My experience is it is not good to have several Christian stations. There are only so many listeners who want this format. Fragmenting that small piece of the pie makes it hard for anyone to have a successful station.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your show/job?
I need a team that really wants to be here and do this job as much as I want to. If that happens, we win and our listeners love us!
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
Really connecting with listeners – being relevant and real and revealing who you really are, like a good friend does. I listen to a lot of Christian stations as I drive around and most announcers never really say anything that engages me to want to hear more of their show. Sometimes I think we are playing it too safe.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
How to survive in an “on demand” audio world. We have to have great personalities who create the demand to get listeners to turn on the radio. Secondly, the rapid decline of spiritual life and Christian influence in our culture. Right now, the church is losing the battle for mens’ and womens’ hearts.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Some heroes: Mark Rider – I was nobody when he was one of the biggest DJ’s in our business and he treated me as a peer. Rick Tarrant – His production made my little one studio station sound as big as anyone else on the dial. Todd Isberner – He taught us how to raise the money that helped us have a stable income, enabling us to grow more stations. And I can’t leave out Jon Hull, who has always modeled the kind of Christian broadcaster I want to be.