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Feature InterviewInterviews

Kevin Avery Interview

Kevin Avery
Mornings
WFSH
Atlanta

 

Career Capsule: Kevin started in radio over 30 years ago in the AOR and Classic Rock formats. Working in Ocean City-Maryland, Washington DC, Baltimore-Maryland and Augusta-Georgia. Kevin had a profound experience with Jesus while in Augusta and decided to pursue Christian Radio, getting an opportunity with WAY-FM in West Palm Beach. That lead to an opportunity to launch the Fish in Atlanta, Georgia as the Program Director and Morning Show. Now, no longer the Program Director, Kevin has been with Salem in Atlanta for almost 22 years. You can hear the “Kevin and Taylor Show” daily on almost 130 radio stations around the country. 

 

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

The radio station is doing great, we are really in a ‘sweet spot’ in every daypart. We’re fortunate that the Salem National PD, Mike Blakemore, is our station PD as well and he keeps us sounding fantastic! The ratings being consistently solid are a testament to the hard work everyone put in here on a daily basis. On a personal level, my wife is pining for her first grandbaby while I’m pining for all of the kids to move out on their own! “The Empty Nester Dream” has been somewhat elusive for us!   

 

You work as a morning show co-host, what ingredients are important to make that work with a partner?

‘The Kevin and Taylor Show’ has been around for almost 25 years now! (Yet Taylor is only 29…how exactly does that work?) Our longevity is based on mutual respect coupled with a shared goal and purpose; to represent ‘the welcoming heart of God’. It’s a phrase we picked up over 20 years ago from Pastor Scotty Smith. We also wanted to have transparent lives on and off the air, that would be relatable to our target demo. The everyday struggles that we all go through, trying to be followers of Jesus, while navigating the stuff of everyday life. Being committed to those things while keeping our ego’s in check and looking for ways to make each other shine are foundational.

We have also been fortunate to have supportive people along the way starting with Dusty Rhodes at WAY-FM. Allen Power really believed in us here at Salem in Atlanta and gave us the “keys to the car”, making me the Program Director & Taylor the Promotions Director, while doing the morning show. That support continues today with Val Carolin in Atlanta and people like Kevin Anderson in Nashville and of course our wonderful CEO Dave Santrella. We couldn’t ask for better people to look up to.

And of course the Producers that we have had are all phenomenal! Griffin ‘Prod G’ Atkins has been with us for 11 years now. He started at The Fish as an intern, met his wife when they were on the Promotions Team together and was recently promoted to Assistant PD. It’s been great to watch him become a husband a Dad while excelling in his profession.

 

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

“The best”, I have 2! First from John Frost; knowing the difference between strategy and tactics and understanding that you do not violate your strategy with a tactical decision.

The second was from a mentor named Steve Kosbau; ‘It’s not rocket science, just play great music and be nice to people.’ It really is that simple. Of course when you peel back the meaning of ‘play great music’ it gets a bit more complex, but staying focused on basics like that seem to work well!

The worst, “This isn’t a bumper sticker town”. I’d say it was the worst because it relies on gut and intuition rather than any quantifiable data. Of course you have instincts and judgement, but beware of the blanket-statement with no way to back it up.

 

What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?

That the hope and encouragement that we get to share with people is far more meaningful to people than we every knew. The past two years amplified how much we all need Jesus. Our listeners were in the same boat and turned to Christian Radio for stability. We didn’t miss one day of coming into the radio station during Covid and that was very meaningful for our Kevin and Taylor listeners. One lady told us ‘my world was falling apart, my husband lost his job, we didn’t know if we were going to get sick, and everyday you guys were there. I’d tune into Kevin and Taylor, hear your voices and know that we were going to be ok.” Christian stations and shows across the country have similar stories. It’s the power of God, moving through us to do incredible things. Covid reminded us of that- it is a privilege and a responsibility.    

 

Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?

New talent is a kid doing ‘radio at home’, they just call is a podcast, tik tok or Instagram! Young people today are so far ahead of where we were in communicating and connecting to an audience. They have been doing it their entire lives via social media. So where do they come from? Everywhere and anywhere and they are ready for their close-up a lot quicker than we were. I’m very excited to see and hear what the next generation can and will do to advance the format.

 

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

The pressure to be a multiple platform performer. You’ve got to be podcast ready, blog ready, camera ready and have 100k followers on your Socials. Oh, and if you have time, do 4 hours of compelling radio every day. That’s a lot of content creation and it’s usually all on your shoulders. Jimmy Fallon or James Corden have entire staffs writing for them every day. And they are only doing one hour! We all know that content is king, it can be a massive job getting it all out, in a unique package to all of the different platforms.     

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

First would be Karen Aylor. I met Karen when I was 18 and she was a DJ at 96 Rock in Ocean City, Maryland. She let me sit in with her for a show one evening and I knew that I wanted to be on the radio. She let me see how radio was done and told me I could do it. I believed her and I’ll always be grateful.

David Letterman. In High School I would stay up every night to see the ‘Top 10 List’. I’d go to school the next day, barely able to keep my eyes open!  But his brand of humor and the idea that he was ‘one of us’ who happened to get a TV show, and play for an hour every night, was magic. My Mom passed last year and fortunately she never found out that I stayed up so late every night! I wonder if Jesus told her?

And I mentioned Steve Kosbau earlier, he gave me his time and shared his know-how when I was a part-timer at WCXR in Washington DC. He helped me to understand Programming, music scheduling and how it all worked together. He’s another person that didn’t have to, but he helped me along and I will always be grateful to him as well.    

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