John Lawhon Interview

John Lawhon
Program Director
WRBS 
Baltimore

Career Capsule: It’s real short. I started working at SHINE-FM in 2009 as the evening producer and then became the evening host. In 2012 I moved to middays and have been there ever since. In 2015 I was hired as APD/MD and in 2018 was promoted to Program Director.

 

John, tell us what’s new at WRBS… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?

There’s always something exciting happening here. We reduced our commercial inventory by 60% in January and that’s had an incredible positive impact for us. Currently we are undergoing a brand refresh and will be rolling out a new logo and brand identity. We are also launching a new website that is very content forward as our digital department grows. By the time you read this a new afternoon show has launched as Erin Branham transitions to full time Marketing & Promotions Director. Jack and his new partner Molly are killing it. I’m really pumped about the now and the future. Like I said, a ton going on… I love it!

 

Christian Radio has become very competitive… what do you do to stand out from the crowd?

I really wish I had a practical silver bullet but simply put, we control what we can control. No one can do what you do so make sure you are being yourself, right? Bring walls down, have self-awareness, have humility and gratitude. It’s not easy by any means and it’s a real spiritual battle we fight everyday. The best thing we can do is to let God lead, listen to our audience, have our ear to the ground in culture, be nimble, move quickly, execute and have patience in the results.

 

What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?

I have had some much incredible advice imparted to me by amazing people but some great advice that sticks out is to view apathy as the enemy. To trust my instincts and my gut.

If I’ve been given poor advice I guess it’s a good thing that I can’t think of anything.

 

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

There are great radio stations doing great things for our communities and most brands have their own unique qualities. We should lean into that. Yes, the greater the reach the better.

 

What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your show/job?

My team. I’m nothing without them.

 

In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?

Because of our line of work, our enemy is relentless in his energy to seek and destroy. It may be obvious at times and others it’s so calculated and seemingly miniscule. He does this by planting seeds of fear, worry and doubt. Largely surrounding finances. We need to continue to have faith and courage to push it back. To continue to invite God into every decision we make and recognize that that is all that is necessary. We are in the long game but sometimes act like we are in a short one. Certainly we can all improve on this in our personal lives and in our ministries. Be courageous and ask God what risks we can take today!

 

Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?

To remain relevant as content creators we need to be 360 with our content. Written, video and audio. What’s exciting is that I believe we will soon be entering a golden era for audio and our industry is poised to capitalize in a big way. We will only do this by not romanticizing how we currently distribute our content, by doubling down on brand and by elevating our on-air talent. In the art vs science conversation…art has never been more important.

There are some great people and organizations currently leading in this way, I’m excited for the future.

 

Who are your radio heroes?

No radio heroes but a ton of influencers in my life and career. Firstly, my dad and current GM Steve Lawhon, my former PD Dave Paul, my coach Chuck Finney, my quarterback Lamar Jackson, my hype man Gary Vaynerchuk, of course my family and my team who make it such an honor to lead.

One thought on “John Lawhon Interview

  • November 19, 2019 at 5:35 pm
    Permalink

    Knew John and his family when he was growing up in Middle school and High School. I was very much impressed with his answers to the above questions. He is a young man whose parents set the path for him when he was young and he followed through and would make anyone who knows him very proud. Sounds like another Lamar Jackson. Just give him the ball and let him do his thing. Great Job John

    Reply

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