Mike Harper Interview
Vice President of Communications/ Morning Show Host
Career capsule: I came to KVNE part time in July, 1989. In 1990 I uprooted my family of 6, and I left General Motors in Shreveport to start full time. It was soon thereafter I started doing mornings. I did a solo show for the first fifteen years, then we added Tricia Anderson as morning show co-host. This was a big boost in raising our show to the next level. When Tricia left radio in 2008 to start a family, Carrie Parsons became our new co-host. We’ve done mornings together ever since, and our ratings, our giving, and our ministry has enjoyed increased blessings ever since as well!
Mike, tell us what’s new at KVNE… news, changes, & new with YOU… etc?
There’s plenty new at KVNE! We just doubled in size! We recently added two new stations. One is an Hispanic Christian music format, called ”Fuzion”. It launched in early January. The other is a Christian teaching station, “The Well”, set to go live in early March. We also changed the brand of our sister station from “Uplifting KGLY” to “Lift 91.3”. Still the same acoustic/coffee house style of worship music, we just updated our name!
As for me, I just celebrated 30 years with the ministry! It seems like I just got here! I just keep showing up, and God just keeps showing His faithfulness!
Your station has a great heritage… how important is that, and why do you believe the station has lasted so long?
God has built for us a brand of familiarity and trust over the years, and the momentum has helped carry us. It’s also important to keep thinking forward, and asking God’s direction to always improve. When we look at our jobs as forms of worship, we believe God honors that. He has surely proven that over and over!
I also believe we started at a good time. In the eighties there wasn’t much Christian radio available. Over the years we’ve been blessed with fine leadership, and a faithful audience. The East Texas community and Christian radio has always been a great fit!
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Lots of great advice from Chuck Finney over the years! Among the best: “Talking over the ramps”! Not always strictly by the book, but more of an attitude that says; We can say a lot more than we might expect in a 10 second song intro! It keeps the momentum moving forward, and creates less temptation for listeners to “click away”!
The worst? “Sprinkling in” Christmas music. (Advice from an unnamed source!) Transitioning in and out of Christmas to regular format is never smooth. Either go all in or don’t go at all!
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
It depends who you ask! Listeners may say the more choices the better. But multiple stations in the same market puts more strain on keeping each one funded, thus limiting the quality of what they’re able to produce. There are plenty of markets not served by Christian radio. Adding a station to these markets not only benefits the community, but allows the station to fully utilize the local donor base.
What’s your opinion on podcasts… is it necessary to have one, are they a threat to radio… etc?
They’re no more a threat than any other competing medium we’ve worried about over the years. If we focus on excellence, we can stay a viable and even leading source of Christian content consumption.
Even though podcasts production and popularity are on the rise, we’re still relatively early in the podcast era. They definitely have their place, but we’re still learning how to do them well. More research will tell what methods will work in the long run. For now, there are too many that ramble and lack continuity/succinct flow of thought. So are they necessary? Not yet. They can be a strategic addition to our format, but let’s make sure we do our homework to ensure we produce a quality product before we dive in.
In what areas do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most?
Marketing and development.
Invest in your people
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Staying in front of your audience in an increasingly crowded culture. That means being present in the community. It means billboards. It means building personal relationships. It means being local. And of course, we need to do our jobs as unto the Lord. Again, it’s all about focusing on excellence.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
WEBN in Cincinnati in the late 60s and 70s was one of the first “classic rock” formats in the country. They had an overnight guy I loved named Ty Willliams. He was extremely low key, very dry, but so cool. Excellent for his time slot in that format. A current day comparison may be Earle Bailey on Sirius XM. In our format, Brant Hansen gets my vote as most creative and unique, skillfully crafting funny with spiritual to make Christianity attractive and genuine. Sherri plays his perfect counterpart.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my work life! I love our industry!