Melissa Montana Interview
STAR Educational Media Network
WLAB – Star 88.3
Career Capsule: Melissa Montana finds joy in her calling on the air and in leadership of an amazing team at STAR 88.3 (WLAB) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is the CEO/President of STAR Educational Media Network with 10 frequencies in the region. Melissa was at 2 other stations previously for 5 years. She has been at this ministry where God has allowed her to lead in building this network the past 34 years. STAR was honored to receive Station of the Year for Medium Market last year. Melissa says it’s still new to her and she’s still excited about the future.
Melissa, tell us what’s new at STAR … any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?
Thank you for asking! Grab your coffee or tea and let’s chat. SO much new. I live for what God has next and that’s new. We have new people on the team that I’m so thankful for. Truly God ordained men and women that I’m honored to lead and love. If you’ve been in a building or facility for a time and you needed new upgrades for awhile..well, you can appreciate new flooring on all 3 floors and I’ve been decorating like crazy all over. We are having a blast. Come visit soon.
Some new technology that has been in the works for awhile, the funds came through for that.
We’ve been building a new podcast studio and it’s finally almost done! That means I will have a new podcast coming, as well as another amazing on air talent, Josh Raines. Just waiting on the last piece of equipment then you’ll hear more.
I love my life and have been honored again to do many events as I host, co-host and speak throughout the region. It’s a joy to encourage others from the platform.
Being a mom to my beautiful 24-year-old, LaShay, is my greatest earthly joy.
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
You might look at my life and not think I balance well because I LOVE to serve. I work a lot of hours but it’s not a job to me. I truly feel called and empowered by investing into Kingdom work. If you don’t feel passionate or empowered by your work then it might be time to check your heart and see if you should remain in that position. I hope you love where God has you. If not, there are many places to serve. But, I do believe in breathing in between the ministry so you can be effective. It’s one thing to be a hamster on a wheel and it’s another thing to run a marathon with a cause. We all have to run at times but at the end of every marathon you cross the finish line and you stop to renew yourself before you do the next race. We can’t just run like Forrest Gump and not stop. That’s not reality. I need some alone time. I need some Mommy/daughter time. I need time to grow in Christ so I can empower others. I’ll admit I can’t stop long but each week I feel renewed for the times I take to rest in Him. It’s an investment into me so I can help others. How can we relate to the masses if we don’t take time to recharge daily and weekly? I need him. What really helps me is to never put Jesus in a box. I talk to him all day. I look for him in all things. I look up scripture anytime I’m thinking of a topic. He’s my life. He’s not 15 minutes a day. That’s just one thing. He’s in everything and he should be in every thought and breath we have. I want that.
Overall, what is the best advice you’ve been given as a leader? The worst?
So much I could say but the simple best messages that stuck with me are; Be genuine and authentic. Be Kind. Help your team to succeed. Live your life as an example of Christ and he will take care of the rest. Don’t always worry about what others say even when you have to make the tough decisions. You answer to the Lord.
The worst? I’m laughing. Some of you have already seen the quote that was used for February in the CMB calendar. I guess I didn’t realize it was going to be out there for everyone to see so I had to laugh. Basically, I was told not to expect growth. Right. We can’t grow anymore because everyone has their piece of the pie and this is our piece of the pie. [What?!] I said, “Well, I want some of their pie”!
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
Please allow me to turn that around and say I did know this but it became even more apparent how deeply moving and healing the message is on Christian radio. Hearing it from families, individuals and kids that they were clinging to the message of hope on the radio like never before was overwhelming. It made me more aware at how humbling it is that we GET to do this! It caused us to do ministry in a way we never would have done if we weren’t in this crisis and I loved seeing God’s hand all over that. Christian radio was meant for such a time as this! We got to lead the charge of offering hope.
We created the Drive By Blessings and went TO people in their subdivisions, to businesses, in drive throughs, to senior living communities and to emergency responders and prayed for them. I learned that you can’t limit God in a crisis. Look for ministry when crisis hits. It’s opportunity waiting to happen.
What are your thoughts on podcasting, should all Christian broadcasters have a podcast?
I love the idea of podcasts and how it can add to your ministry. It’s a great way to cross promote on air and your social media and allows you to have a conversation that digs deeper than you have time for on the air. But, I would say if you don’t have someone that loves it or is gifted at going deeper with content it would not be a good idea to do it just because “everyone else is doing it”. We’ve been searching for ideas, wisdom and consultants’ insight on what is the best approach and we’re moving in that direction. We are almost ready to launch my new podcast and Josh Raines’ new podcast in the next few weeks. We want it to have purpose, so we have had lots of discussions and lots of prayer as we’ve been building our podcast studio. Our goal is truly to reach more people with hope and that this would be a tool for many people to find joy, healing, inspiration and life in Christ. We want to talk about the uncomfortable things in life and bring solutions. Jesus is enough for all of us.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
Your community! Look for young people with a voice. Look for those with voices that already have something to say. Look for those young at heart that have a relevant lifestyle that are sharing on social media or in the church. There are fresh, new talents waiting for someone to invest into them and give them a platform but they may not realize that. They may just need you to mold and guide them. You have to see it in them and ask God to point them out. It’s a different world so we can do things differently in finding talent.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
Unfortunately, I feel like it’s being burned out or not feeling valued. Over the years I’ve had a number of people share that with me and it breaks my heart when I know the leader could make a big difference in their team’s drive to serve by loving on them in ways that don’t require a big sacrifice. People are important and there are a lot of personalities so we have to be sensitive to each personality. What might inspire one may not move the next team member. Getting to know the team, whether you’re the leader or the support talent, everyone can make others on the team feel valued and noticed. A leader though can turn a light on by words of encouragement, showing they care in some tangible way or just finding out about their work love language. Of all industries, we should be the most loving in ministry. The rewards are great for teams that feel valued and loved.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
It’s an expected question and it makes me think back over the years. I don’t have one radio hero or one biggest influence because I’ve gained so much insight and wisdom from many people along the way. I’ve said it many times before that when I brought on John Frost as our consultant years ago and he brought along wisdom from Tommy Kramer and Alan Mason as well as others, it began a journey of seeking wisdom in how to better communicate to our listeners and how to understand who “she” is. That turned the tide on recognizing that we are not speaking to a mass of people but individuals with families and pain and challenges and victories that we want to share in and offer hope. Everything is different when we look to inspire others rather than just tell them what we think. I also have to say the years of incredible speakers, conferences and resources from CMB and before has given me a wealth of knowledge in my servant leadership journey. The icing on the cake though is a praying Mama in the background of every move I make in ministry. Thank you, Jesus!