Feature InterviewInterviews

Matthew Forner Interview 9-30-16

Matt Forner
Personality & Production Assistant
Dallas/Ft Worth

Career Capsule: Afternoons & Production at WHSD – Hinsdale/Darien – August 2009-May 2013, Production/Programming Intern at KSBJ/NGEN Radio – Houston – Summer 2016, Evenings & Production Assistant KJRN Dallas-Fort Worth – August 2013-Present.

  1. Matthew, Tell us what’s new with The Journey… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?

Sharathon kicks off this week! It’s always a very busy yet rewarding time. We’re building a new tower and doubling our height to better cover our broadcast area. The tower should be finished later this fall. We at the Journey will continue to keep reaching our listeners and walk with them on their daily journey with Christ. I’ve been really enjoying my time connecting with listeners during the evening and I’m excited to graduate with my BS in Communication this upcoming May. Praying to see where God wants me as I assess my next steps.

2. What is your typical day like regarding getting ready to go on the air?

A typical day involves a lot of show prep! I’m still a full time student so classes come first. However in such a technology driven world I am able to utilize this to my advantage. I like to take notes on my phone of things happening around me and I’m constantly sending myself articles or stories I read on Facebook. I have a show rundown sheet that I like to fill out too.

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

I can’t choose the best piece of advice but I have a few favorites…

 Listener ALWAYS comes first. Focus on building meaningful relationships with your audience and ratings will come in due time.

Find out who you are as a talent, what you want your personal “brand” to be, and what you want your show to be about.

Not actually “radio” advice but advice from a film professor of mine. The entire communication field is about telling stories so the better you tell stories the better you’ll do in any of the fields. Radio. Filmmaking. TV. Marketing. Public Relations. Advertising. Journalism. etc. If you can tell a compelling story well, you’ll succeed.

The worst piece of advice was from a Program Director doubling as a Music Director I met. He told me to just play music you love and everything will fall into place. The truth is that if you’re in programming it’s not about you and your musical tastes. It’s about your audience and what she wants to hear. Even if you’re in the age demo of your target you should still rely on research. Just saying to yourself “that’s a good song we should be playing it!” isn’t going to cut it. It’s all about her. I think every MD struggles with that from time to time. Thankfully I haven’t been in radio long enough to get some really horrible advice yet but I’m sure the time will come.

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

I’m a fan! The more competition a station has the better. Without competition stations get lazy and stale and that’s NOT good. Competition helps Christian stations refine their art and reach new listeners faster and hopefully in a more impactful way. In the DFW market there is us, WAY-FM, Air1, KLTY, and KCBI. That’s A LOT of Christian stations for one market and a lot of competition…and that’s just terrestrial radio. That’s not even streaming sources. I hope the competition has made us all stronger. I think if we’re more focused on ratings and beating the competition than on reaching people for the kingdom we’ve missed the point of our existence as Christian radio stations. One thing I really love is when CCM stations look outside their format and take on the major mainstream AC stations in their markets. Not only is that a mission opportunity but also an opportunity to work with our Christian “competition” to reach lives for Christ.

5. What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your show?

My Macbook Pro – I have my notes and ideas in front of me, the show rundown, and any other show prep I’m using. It’s by far the easiest way for me to have everything at one spot. I take it with me everywhere.

6. Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?

I love this question because there are so many angles. Firstly, I think we really need to embrace young professionals that want to be in programming side of CCM radio. This can be on-air and in management roles, not just in behind the scenes roles like production or promotion. Even though our format might target women ages 25-54 we must embrace millennials who want to pursue a career in radio when they graduate. If we don’t embrace them, we are going to lose them to mainstream stations and that is just letting talent walk out the door. We need to foster and coach upcoming millennials now because they are the future of our format. Trust and equip them with the tools needed to succeed. We need fresh ideas and forward momentum in a world that is changing rapidly every day. Nobody is more on fire about the future than millennials. Also we need to be able to look outside the broadcasting world and into the world of digital media. If you look at podcasters or YouTube there are stars in those mediums who are unique, quirky, and have dedicated audiences. Why not look outside radio and find interesting people who can relate and tell amazing stories?

7. Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?

I think there are a few major things to look at. The P1 audience of most CCM stations are getting older and older and even though stations are trying to target younger audiences there is a great deal of fear in playing music that is outside the norm. Stations just play music that is recognized and safe when we need to be more comfortable pushing the limit to reach those younger audiences which are the next generation of listeners. Our industry also needs to deal with the ever changing world of digital media including streaming and social networking. The industry needs to have a clear vision and business plan for the future, something I don’t think we quite have yet. Streaming audio will eventually hit the listenership of terrestrial radio so we need to be able to tackle this as format and not let it conquer us and pass us behind. Also I would like to see more significant attention put on my generation, millennials. Research shows our generation is leaving faith groups at staggering numbers and most CCM stations offer no viable solutions. What are we in radio doing to help build relationships with this age group? Are we just focusing on their parents and hoping they tag along? We need all hands on deck!

8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

Too many to name!

Mike Agee – His invaluable mentorship pushes me daily to be a better person in radio, in school, and in life.

Jon Hull – His aircheck sessions have opened up my mind more than anyone else.

Sterling Tarrant – Pushed and stretched my production abilities this past summer when I interned at KSBJ. I came in thinking I knew a lot when I didn’t and walked away knowing more yet still realizing I have so much to learn.

Ty McFarland – His leadership style is top notch! He’s your biggest cheerleader when you need it and when I hopefully become a manager one day I want to demonstrate the same charisma. 

Troy West – His constant encouragement has really helped me and I always enjoy devouring his knowledge about how to be a successful music director.
Wally – Inspires me in his abilities as a talent. His show is authentic, funny, and a breath of fresh air in this format.

Jerry Woods – I’m always amazed by how cleanly he gets out of a break! It pushes me to try harder every time.

Chris Gilbreth – Working with Chris during our fundraising events is always awesome and his experience in engineering really intrigues me.

Brian Meza – His passion to reach millennials is unsurpassed and his out of the box thinking is something CCM and Christian CHR radio needs.  

Chris Chicago – Always has the biggest smile at NGEN! Appreciated his genuine and accepting character from day one.

Matt Andre – He was my fellow KSBJ/NGEN intern! He is a production genius and blows anything I produce out of the water. If I was a PD today. I would want him on my team in an instant.

Mark Baggio – Mark gets credit for allowing a kid like me to tour my first station EVER….B96 WBBM Chicago in December of 2008. After walking into a dim lit studio and seeing the madness of a live show I fell in love with radio, knew this was my career path and never looked back.

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