Career Capsule: That’s a loaded question! Maybe the theme song to WKRP in Cincinnati explains it best. Sing along!
“Baby, if you’ve ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I’m living on the air in (insert city here!)…”
Seriously, I’ve had the honor to work at some great stations, with somewonderfully talentedpeople.
In St. Louis, Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Cincinnati and for 11 years now in Indianapolis.
1. Kurt, tell us what’s new with WQME… news, changes, expansion… etc?
WQME is owned by Anderson University. For most of it’s existence, it’s been used as apart of the AU curriculum.
With declining interest in Broadcast Majors, the focus shifted away from radio majors staffing to station tojust general student population staffing opportunities. All the while, WQME is a “commercial” radio station. Advertisers fund the station operations. No listener donations. So, in June 2015, the university leadership determined a change of direction was in order to make the station more “commercially” viablein the Indianapolis market.
2. What changes have you implemented since you arrived at WQME?
With the new focus being on attracting a larger audience in Central Indiana, about 3 months ago, we rebranded the radio station as98-7, The Song. This brand was actually used over 10 years ago in Indianapolis and was very successful. Short-lived, but, successful. With KLOVE and SHINE FM in our market, the familiarity of The Song brand has created a buzz around town. In addition to a new name, we have added some wonderful on-air communicatorsto the station. Wallace & Company, our morning show, features myself, a local weather/on-air personality, Paul Poteet and an awesome student at AU, Allison Kay, who is our info gal. Keep the Faith with Penny-Middays. Amanda Carroll-PM Drive. Nightlight with Andrea-Evenings. In addition, we used the first 98 Days of the new brand to serve and highlight LOCAL ministries and organizations that are making an uplifting difference in Central Indiana. It’s been inspiring to see how much is being done LOCALLY to serve and reach friends in our community. The rebrand and new approach to reaching a broader audience has breathed new life into the station and staff.
3. What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best? Anything John Frost says. Ha! Love this advice he shared. Play the music your listeners love.
Talk about things they are interested in. Don’t waste their time. The worst? Anything I heard before meeting John Frost. Kidding! I’ve soaked in great advice from Brad Burkhart, Mike McVay and Chuck Finney too! We are blessed to have some incredible programming minds willing to share their gifts and knowledge.
4. Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
Hmmm….it’s great for the listener. And, that’s what it’s all about, right? It sure makes you up your game.
Competition, even among believers, is a good thing. That whole “iron sharpens iron” thing.
5. What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your show?
Are we talking about food here? Drink? I’m not a coffee guy. I used to drink Diet Coke. Gave that up!
What did we do without the internet? We have so many great stories online to chose from these days.
6. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
Everyday people. Could be the person who serves you at Chick Fil A. An outgoing listener you meet at a concert or station event.
There’s not a deep bench at our stations anymore. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Finding “genuine” communicators whocan connectwith our core audience will only make our format stronger.
7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Staying relevant. Love the focus our industry has given to the next generation of CCM listeners.
If we don’t change, we lose an opportunity to grow. How we’ve always done things won’t work forever.
8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
This interview sounds like a John Frost love-fest, but, I grew up listening to John Frost when he was on KHTR in St. Louis. He was a hero, until I actually met him! Ha! Funny story. I snuck up to the KHTR studio in St. Louis one July 4th. John was on the air. I rang the doorbell, and a very young, high school aged looking boy came to the door. I asked if I could talk to John Frost.And the high schoolaged lookingboysaid, in his lovely deep voice, “I am John Frost.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, right. Can we meet John Frost?” One of the first stations I worked for, WCBW in St. Louis, had an incredible team back in the day. Stel Pontikes, Greg Cassidy and Keith Clark. I was in awe of those 3 guys. Not so much Greg Cassidy, after I got to know him! Ha!
As far as influences go. I wish I could be Steve Swanson someday. What a godly example and genuine person. I am inspired by leaders like WAYFM’s, Matt Hahn and talented writers and communicators like Josh Uecker. Imaging guru, Greg Murray.
Industry folk?Jim Houser, Brian Dishon, Grant Hubbard and Chris Hauser. Good people with great vision and passion.