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Feature InterviewInterviews

Lisa Williams Interview

Lisa Williams
Network Talent Coach
Northwestern Media

Career Capsule: On-air at KCVO in Missouri (’90-’95); KCWN in Iowa (’95-’96); Z88.3 in Florida (’98-’07), with a brief three month exit to help launch Star 99.1 in New Jersey; K-LOVE nationally (’07-’11); then in 2011 and over the next 10 years…fundraising, voice tracking, coaching, podcasting, speaking, and syndicating for Christian radio from Denver. You can know more about my radio journey here:  www.lifewithlisawilliams.com/about

I currently serve as the Network Talent Coach for Northwestern Media. Northwestern Media has been a ministry of University of Northwestern – St. Paul since 1949. Northwestern Media owns 23 stations in 14 markets across 10 states. The radio signals have more than 1,500,000 listeners each week across the upper Midwest. Northwestern Media exists to lead people to Christ and nurture believers in their spiritual growth through Christ-centered media.

 

Lisa, tell us what’s new … any news, changes etc… what’s new with YOU? 

I’ve been growing spiritually and professionally – that’s my best and biggest news.  I love learning and understanding things – and then experiencing more growth as I discuss and teach.  This is why my job as a talent coach is life-giving to my soul!  

My boys and I are still in Denver. They are growing up and I love being their mom.  Witnessing their lives is the most wonderful.  I can’t believe how fast it’s going.  JD gets his driving permit this week!

Today I’m gearing up mentally and emotionally for the Spring 2022 fundraising season. I’ll be on the road most of March and April.  I’m energized by communicating the mission of Christian radio, traveling, hitting goals, connecting listeners’ lives to God’s heart for people, and by being with my friends.

Also this Spring, I’m speaking at two women’s events and that’s exciting to my heart.  Then this Summer, I’m helping to program and host two events, so that’s on my mind today.  

All in all, the biggest news in my life is my personal healing and growth with, through, and because of Jesus.

 

How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life’?  

In late 2019, Paul Goldsmith handed me the book Margin by Dr. Richard Swenson and said, “I think you need this more than I do.”  It was true.  That Fall, I had spoken at, attended, or worked at over a dozen events while homeschooling the boys on the road.  I had no idea I was addicted to overload.  Margin became my word of 2020 and God gave me (and all of us) copious time to process what margin looks and feels like, what my limits are, and how to tell when I’m in overload.  

My advice is (1) know your limits, (2) have margin, and (3) pay attention to pain because it indicates when you’re in overload.  I didn’t know I could live this way. 

Currently I’m reading Aundi Kolber’s book Try Softer and I just finished Chapter 4 which is about our “window of tolerance”.  Understanding attachment styles and how healing, self-awareness, humility, and self-compassion can make a way for us to live a calm, curious, compassionate, confident, courageous, creative and connected life, with clarity – it’s so good!!

 

Overall, what is the best advice you could give young, upcoming Christian Radio air talent? The worst?  

What’s the worst advice I could give them?  LOL I’ll have to think on that.  The best?  Know Jesus.  He’s the best.  Have an ever-developing knowledge of Him.  Surround yourself with people and books that talk about Him.  He is the reason we’re doing Christian radio so knowing Him is the thing.  His Word is truth so memorize it, think about it, visualize it, talk about it, whisper it gently to yourself as you fall asleep.  Don’t keep Jesus at arms’ length.  Trust Him with your heart.  He is safe.  Find time to sit quietly with God and listen.  Get curious about how you show up – what drives you and your actions, words, obsessions, and decisions?  Let God’s word, wise counsel, and safe friends help you find your way to being who God created you to be. Shine. Don’t ever let the mission become more important than people around you.  Figure out how to love people through radio.  Let everything you do (on-air and off) be motivated by love.  Meditate on what love-drenched radio sounds like and then try it.  Could weather be based on a deep love for your listener’s well-being?  Could a concert promo be drenched in a deep love for your listener’s soul?  Don’t be ashamed of your emotions.  Don’t apologize for who you are.  Remember it’s not about perfection.  It’s about humility and self-awareness.

Worst advice?  Do the opposite of all that.

 

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

One morning in the Spring of 2020, I woke up anxious.  I was scared and I could feel it in my body.  What was going to happen to all of us?  How was this worldwide shutdown and pandemic going to affect my precious children?  How was I going to make it financially?  I was in my office/studio and I typed in life885.com and started streaming Life 88.5 out of Kansas City.  I remember exactly where I was standing, looking at my computer screen.  Melony and TJ’s calm, happy, steady, reassuring voices flooded me with something wonderful.  It was peace.  I felt like I was going to be okay.  I mean if Melony and TJ were still here, things must be okay.

That’s what I learned.  Our work reassures our sweet listeners’ hearts.

 

What are your thoughts on podcasting, should all Christian broadcasters (air talent) have a podcast?

I’m the wrong person to ask.  I personally get overwhelmed by how much there is to listen to and thus I try to be very judicious about where I invest my time.  I usually just listen to things that are geared towards growth and usually only if recommended by a trusted friend.

That being said, it’s a no brainer that we who are trained in the art of verbal communication would use our skills to create, as God leads and opens doors. With an air-talent’s honed skills of connection and storytelling, there are some beautiful podcasts being created by our peers. 

I’m very fond of Northwestern and our talent.  Northwestern Media is putting out some stellar podcasts.  So many podcasts are just people talking but they don’t know what you know about verbal communication.  A great podcast should be focussed and filtered.  Topical. Relevant. Compelling. Meaningful. Passionate. Authentic.  You need a mission statement and clear focus.

Early in my Christian discipleship, someone said to me, “The world is looking for authenticity.  They can smell it. They can sniff out inauthentic very quickly.”  That advice comes to mind right now as I’m answering your question about podcasting.  What’s your motivation for doing a podcast – that’s the real question.

 

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

Dear everyone in Christian radio who’s older, like me:  

Pay attention to who’s around you.  Cultivate. Listen, ask questions, invite.  Give your time away to young people.  The future will come from us paying attention, cultivating, caring, and loving.  Pour into young talent around you.  Never, ever dismiss them.  Believe in them, give them your focus and best advice.  Eyes wide open, friends.  The future depends on us being present in our own lives and inviting people into the wild and meaningful journey of Christian radio.

 

Regarding your role at Northwestern Media, how would you define it, how has it evolved?

I have the privilege of loving air talent.  It is the best job ever.  If I could have invented a job for me, it would be this job.  Jason Sharp got me a T-shirt that says “I love my job” because I’ve said it so many times.  I get to listen to wonderful brothers and sisters create radio and pour into people.  The on-air team at Northwestern Media inspires and ministers to me every single day.  I witness break throughs.  I get invited into lives, emotions, creativity, and stories.  I get to think with great strategists and help develop effective tactics to achieve worthwhile goals. 

What has evolved is me.

In two weeks, I start fundraising.  On the other side of this fundraising season, the Northwestern Media Talent Coach position will show up in its 4.0 iteration since its September 2020 creation.  With the help of wise friends and mentors, I’m developing the position so it can most effectively help, resource, inspire, and instigate growth for the whole Northwestern Media on-air team.  They are amazing people.  They deserve love, prayer, care, and help.

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

I can’t answer this.  As I try, I start to see all their faces.  I’m on an airplane as I type this and it doesn’t feel safe to heave cry right now.  Seriously.  Again I just tried to answer this question and tears are coming out of my eyes.  I have to stop.  There’s probably an air marshal who will inject me with a tranquilizer if I start to feel all my gratitude for my radio heroes and influencers.  So let me bottom line you.  My radio hero is: 

Jesus.  

He is the best communicator.  He can land a point like no one else.  There are certain pieces of content that He has teased and set up for decades, waiting for the moment to land it in a way that I can’t miss.  He always takes the right exit. He is the Best at using just the right amount of words.  He broadcasts.  Time and time again, conversations with friends erupt into, “He’s been saying the same thing to me!”  Yep, He’s a broadcaster.  I often imaging Him wearing Sony headphones.  He’s a radio guy.  I just know it.  And I’m His radio girl.

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