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Jonas Nelson Interview 10-2-17

Jonas Nelson
Program Director
Minot, ND

Career Capsule: I grew up on a farm in North Dakota listening to the radio station I now work for.  From the time I was very little, I knew I wanted to be in Christian Radio.  I would “play radio” for my mom by spinning songs on the record player and then talking while I switched songs.  Following high school I received my radio training in Minneapolis at Brown Institute.  A year later I began working part-time at 1570 KYCR in Minneapolis. After a couple months I moved to full-time and stayed there for 6 1/2 years.  I moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota and worked at KSLT for about four months before taking the job at KHRT.  I’ve worked here for almost 21 years.

Jonas… Tell us what’s new with KHRT… News, changes, & with YOU… Etc?

The biggest change is in staff.  Our long time Production Director and Announcer, Vince Azzarello, recently took a job outside of radio. Vince had been with us for seven years. So the rest of us are picking up a little extra in the meantime.

Another thing that’s new each year is the KHRT Horn of Plenty, a ministry that we head-up in the community helping needy families during the Christmas season. Partnering with businesses, listeners and churches 350 to 400 families receive food, toys for the kids and the Gospel message of Jesus. It’s the highlight of our year.

Christian Radio is very competitive, what strategies do you recommend to stand out in the crowd?

Be genuine and be humble.  Trying to be who you think people want you to be is never a good idea.  You can always tell those that are faking or trying too hard.  Humbleness is a rare quality in today’s world. I think it’s something people are drawn to, because it’s so rarely displayed in media. Be confident but humble

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

Best: Excellence is essential. Keep the Gospel central.

Worst: Friction and controversy on the air produce ratings. The more the better. (this GM had no clue about Christian radio)

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

Truth of the matter is, we all want to be the only Christian station and monopolize the market.  But there is so much more than other stations when it comes to competition.  There’s online stations, podcasts, etc.  The big picture is this: Jesus gave us an assignment to go and tell the world the Good News. He didn’t mention a quota.

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

The Internet.  From downloading singles, to updating social media, to accessing ideas for talk breaks, to news…the Internet is an invaluable resource.

Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?

Good question. I think it will be from those areas where good communication is practiced…speech class, theatre, bloggers, podcasters, etc.

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

Staying relevant and attracting listeners.  More and more people want on-demand content, especially younger people who have grown up with it. Radio seems to be less important to each succeeding generation.

Who are your radio heroes and influences? And why?

Heroes that I like to listen: Paul Harvey had a tremendous voice and a knack for drawing you in to his story.  The Wally Show because Wally and his crew are so genuine and fun. 

Heroes that I worked with: Kerry Liebelt taught me to strive for excellence.  Rick Selin taught me to be myself and have fun.

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