Kristen James Interview
Morning Show Host
WAWZ (Star 99.1)
New York/New Jersey
Career Capsule: In 2010, while attending Rutgers University (Go Scarlet Knights!) and running their News Department at WRSU, I interned at Star 99.1. Two years later, while still in school, they hired me part time as a Promotions Assistant. When I graduated, I was promoted to Promotions Coordinator. A year later, I was promoted to Copywriter/Producer. While I was doing that, Rick Hall took a chance on me and put me on overnights on the weekends. That moved to Sunday nights, which led to Dave Moore advocating for me to be on Afternoons with him. And after 2 years of that, Matt Stockman moved us to Mornings on Star 99.1 – my dream job! I am incredibly blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who encourage growth and take chances!
Kristen, tell us what’s new at WAWZ … news, changes, & what’s new with YOU… etc?
Well… we are FINALLY emerging out of the weirdest 16+ months of our lives! The city is open again and it feels like listeners are finally returning to their routines and commutes. Dave Moore and I moved to Mornings from Afternoons back in April of 2020 and that was a HUGE adjustment but it’s been my dream job for years and we are loving every minute of it!
How have you been affected by the pandemic, on and off the air?
It was definitely a challenge to host a positive and uplifting morning show while you’re feeling the same anxieties and unknowns as the listeners you are trying to encourage! But by the grace of God, after a few weeks, we started to feel the same hopefulness we were talking about and that is definitely a testament to the power of Christian radio! Even in CHAOS, we have this amazing hope. Off the air, my husband was working from our couch for 15 months and I loved the extra time we had together, daily lunches and all the money we saved on his lack of commute into the city. I will forever cherish the positives that came from the insanity.
What is the best show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
I have been incredibly blessed to work with so many brilliant minds over the past decade! People who are willing to share their advice and insight freely! I don’t think I’ve actually gotten bad advice (or maybe I just tuned it out?). But I’ve gotten TONS of amazing advice! Currently my favorite piece that we work on daily is finding something that will surprise and delight a listener and sometimes that means telling the story backwards. Saving that attention-grabbing headline for the end like the story of Mandy Horvath – she just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, a feat very few people have successfully completed. And she did it by CRAWLING the entire 19,000 feet above sea level mountain! She’s a double leg amputee.\\
What are the biggest challenges working with a co-host, and advantages?
I’m not just saying this, but I love working with Dave Moore. We are so fortunate to be great friends off the air as well as on the air. The challenge is building that trust, it takes time, communication and the understanding that you want each other to succeed. There are so many advantages! It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at work! Someone is there to help you progress stories, give their unique perspective and opinions and you are constantly inspiring each other to learn and grow.
*Editor note: Dave Moore recently left WAWZ for afternoons at Family Life Radio
What’s your feeling on podcasts, should air personalities have one?
I love podcasts! Personally, I’m listening to them all day long (specifically marriage and self improvement ones because I want to live each day better than the last). And I think if you have something important to say you should say it! But I don’t think everyone needs to have one, just to have one. We do a podcast that’s just a replay of our morning show on demand and that feels like a good place for us right now.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
As someone who was that “new up and coming talent,” I think they’re coming from everywhere and anywhere! They are the people with passion for people! They have stories to tell and they’re hungry to learn! My dad told me when I was little to work hard and learn as much as could about as many things as I could so that I would be an asset to a company one day. It’s probably the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
Making sure we don’t get stuck in the “Christian bubble” is so hard! We are surrounded by like-minded people, we are immersed in Christian music and culture. But a huge part of our job is to bring people to Christ. So we have to be careful to not sound like we are in an exclusive club and listeners need a VIP ticket and foreign language lessons to enter. Another obstacle is walking that fine line between uplifting and “nice Christian people, talking about nice Christian things” as our friend John Frost says.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Growing up, every bus driver played Z100 on the ride to school so I grew up listening Elvis Duran every morning. And although he’s obviously not a Christian radio host, it made me realize that was my dream job! Making people smile, keeping them company on their commutes and getting to talk all day for a living – jackpot! But as I got into the business, I have been surrounded by ALL-STARS! My amazing friends inspire me every day, they are brilliant and overflowing with true talent! Mysti Jordan helped me put together a demo! Dave Moore and Rick Hall pushed me out of my comfort zones. Brenda Price inspires me daily. Scott Valentine taught me how to set up a break years ago. And as I’m listening to other stations, I just think Rachelle from the morning show on KSBJ is the coolest person ever and Rachelle if you’re reading this can we be best friends?