John Hudson Interview 12-3-18
Career Capsule: I’ve been super blessed to work for the same radio company for nearly 20 years! I started my adventure with Salem Media Group when I was 19 years old and haven’t looked back. I did afternoons at REACH FM in Fort Lauderdale for 2 years & I’m currently a Co-host and Executive Producer on Frank, Starlene & Hudson in the Morning on 94.9 KLTY in Dallas.
Hudson, tell us what’s new at KLTY… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
I’ve never felt more alive doing radio, than I have right now at KLTY and with Salem Media Group. It’s amazing to work for a company who at the core, cares about people. From the top down! We are in the holiday season and have officially started our Christmas Wish campaign. This month we broadcast live at an area Chick Fila each day, and raise money to help hurting families right here in our backyard. The stories are unbelievable and our listeners come to the help their fellow neighbors! It’s a beautiful thing! Over the past 2 years, we’ve recalibrated a few things. New visions, new branding and a new slogan. Our leadership team has poured into me more than I can even express. Sr. Vice President Linnae Young, GM Jeff Mitchell, PD Mike Prendergast & John Frost our Coach & Consultant have made Salem Dallas a vibrant amazing workplace. We’re building a strong community in Dallas Fort Worth, and encouraging North Texans to Speak Love in tangible ways wherever they live.
As for me, my babies aren’t quiet babies anymore. Judah is 7 and Emmie is 6, and this stage we are in is super fun! Rock climbing, Spartan Races, traveling and chasing kiddos has been a blast!
Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
This is a great question! All of radio has become a very competitive animal, not any particular format. According to American Marketing Association, consumers are exposed to 10,000 brand messages each day. WOW! I can’t even find my keys… Here’s my view coming from the talent side of things- As a cast member on a show, my hope is to build a deep community. It’s not just a show. It’s an opportunity to wake up every morning with a very diverse group of people, and engage one another in a very real way. Life is awesome & life is messy, and we don’t shy away from any of it! From pop culture, raising kids, career change, relationships, the TV shows you’re watching, you name it we engage it, because that is real life! Always pointing you back to faith and grace.
We try not to just offer you a morning show, but constant content with us 24/7. From our Instant re-play to our podcasting and social media. Everyone is welcome at our table, no matter what, no matter when!
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Over the years I’ve had some great consultants and PD’s, but the best advice I’ve ever received was from Captain Frank Reed. He said Hudson, “Don’t ever be afraid to be the real you On Air. When you are vulnerable, people know it and you’re not a personality anymore, you’re their friend.”
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
Define “Better.” J
I wouldn’t necessarily say, “The More the Better.” Take any format, let’s say country: If you put 5 Country stations in the same market, with the same coverage area, is that better? One could argue that it’s over saturated but what if 3 of the stations were owned by the same company? Then it becomes a matter of, what are the goals and priorities from a business standpoint to operate each of those, to reach different demos. Profit Margin vs Operating Costs.
Christian Programming is so unique. Messages of hope & faith in Jesus… There’s ministry and there’s the business side. Just like any church or Christian college.
Ministry Side: Is it better to have 200 churches in a 60 mile radius?
Business Side: Is it better to have 20 Chevrolet Dealers in a 60 Mile radius?
I think the answer is pretty subjective, and real talk- I’m just happy that my friends are still working!
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
Life Experiences. It’s great to pull content from online and add your spin, but our winning moments come when cast members bring in real life stories or experiences that we can relate to and have conversation about. If it’s happening in our house, it’s also happening in our listener’s house.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Right next door. Some of the most compelling & entertaining story tellers, haven’t given one thought to cracking a mic yet. They’ve never dreamed about what it would be like to wake up every morning and share a very vulnerable, real, up and down crazy life with millions of people. They are raising kids full time and wiping down tables at Chick Fila. Oh but when they do… The most compelling, funny, heartfelt friend you will ever find, will be in your speakers. Recently I was in Chicago at this HUGE radio summit. Mainstream shows from all across the country were there. People that I’ve listened to for years were in the room, and let me tell ya, I’ve never felt so unqualified in all my life! Ha! Everyone was so gracious and talented and the sessions that I sat in, were gold. Shows like The Breakfast Club, in New York – Bobby Bones based out of Nashville, and legends like Dave Ryan. They talked about how they built their team. I believe it was Dave Ryan who always had great conversations with his next door neighbor, and knew by their candid talks, that she would be a great asset to the show.
Bobby told us that he had a funny conversation with the guy delivering his sandwich & thought, this guy is a scream! I bet people would like him as much as I do, so he brought him on the show.
The game has changed & is forever changing. There is a talent in the market that I work in, who is in her first year of radio. Seriously one of the most creative, funny, entertaining people I’ve ever heard. Radio is a career change for her, and her listeners are better for it. Future talent is probably at the kid’s soccer practice tonight. It’s up to us to speak into them!
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
There was a Barna studied conducted that showed 59% of millennials raised in church have dropped out. The same studied also showed 35% of millennials have an anti-church stance believing that church does more harm than good. Those are pretty big numbers! Let’s take the traditional W25-54 Demo. When I entered CCM 20 years ago, the 35 year old female is now 55 & has just aged out. It was a different world 20 years ago. If we are going to continue our reach, our ministry, our operation, the sound of our programming has to be relevant! For so many years we lived in a bubbly, white picket fence, suburbia where no one struggled and everyone had their shirts tucked in wearing a brown belt. 1988 called and they want their Z Cavariccis back. Instead of speaking church language and vernacular that only church goers will understand, our imaging, promos, delivery and camera view of content HAS to evolve.
The message will always remain the same, but the execution of it has to progress and grow. Be more than just an FM terrestrial transmitter. Offer your community constant engaging content through video, social, podcasts and replays. Become their family and be present in their lives.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I owe so much to the Legend Kidd Kraddick. Growing up in Dallas Fort Worth, I started my mornings with Kidd and the crew. I’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life than with that show for over 20 years. They taught me so much and I am the jock I am today because of Kidd’s Show. I never in a million years would have thought that I would be in the same market, competing against them. Kidd’s brand is so powerful, that even 5 years after his death, the show not only continues with his name, but is still a fierce competitor in the market. Well done sir!
I respect and enjoy listening to the flow of Elvis Duran in NYC. I don’t agree with a ton of his content or stances, but as a communicator he is AMAZING! His show is super tight and very well produced.
Dave Ryan is an amazing talent and a great example of working well with a team.
Mojo in the morning is another example of having a HUGE team and everyone working as a unit.
JoJo Wright at KIIS LA has FUN and brings you VIP to the action. A stellar career and a transparent person.
My buddy Billy the Kidd is a true artist. A production mastermind and the person everyone wants to talk to. Well done brother.