Mike Weston Interview
Career Capsule: I’m originally from the Boston area, so I started my radio career there in the early 1980’s. My first gigs were in Mainstream AC and news formats. Radio travels have taken us, as a family, to Norfolk VA, Charleston SC, Columbia SC, Greenville SC and now Lynchburg VA.
Mike, tell us what’s new at WRVL… news, changes, & with YOU?
We continue to see wonderful growth in ratings, donations and underwriting and so much of it has happened in such a short amount of time. The Journey format launched in early 2015. We were also a CMB Station Of The Year finalist in 2018, and this year, a Marconi award finalist. The Morning Journey with Kenny & Brittany has also won “Best Local DJ’s” the past two years in a row and are nominated again this year. We are very grateful to God who has chosen to honor our efforts with these and other successes. We also love being a part of the Liberty University family, which is its own amazing success and growth story. Personally, I’m loving this season of our lives. My wife Donna is a doctoral student at LU and we are celebrating 35 years of marriage this month. Our grown boys are all in their 30s now and I love the relationships we have been able to develop with one another. They are all amazing young men. In my spare time, I’m a gym rat and enjoy outdoor life here in central VA. I’ve also begun work on my private pilot’s license.
Regarding the Marconi nomination, what do you credit that to?
Our amazing team. Every one of them is a dedicated, passionate hard working pro, full of character and talent. We are also grateful at how the many communities we serve (we have multiple signals in VA and NC) have embraced us so that we have been able to get involved in many wonderful partnerships with various organizations, like Habitat For Humanity-Roanoke Valley, over the past few years.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Probably the best advice has been to be strategic and not just tactical. Decide on your vision, mission and purposes first and, out of those, your music architecture, fundraising, community engagement, and so many others things, will follow. And be proactive, not reactive to any market challenges. I can’t really think of any bad advice…just the mistakes I made on my own over the years.
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
I think it’s a win for the listeners as long as each station has its own clear and unique vision, mission and purpose and remains faithful to those initiatives. And most importantly, multiple stations should be a win for the Kingdom Of God.
What is the ONE thing you must have every day to do your show/job?
I need God’s wisdom and the wisdom from mentors who I trust. I’m very close to the day to day mission and the product so, by default, I don’t always have the best perspective. Regular and on-going input from others I respect is critical.
In what area do you believe Christian Radio needs to improve most? There are so many amazing Christian stations now in so many markets, it’s difficult to answer this one. I suppose one factor that has always been and will always be an area for potential improvement concerns all of us who are on air talents. We can always get better at what we do. And so, for those who have the skill to coach and direct talent, they need to be consistent about investing the time and energy necessary to help that talent to grow. And talents need to be open to being directed and coached.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
The obstacles I see are to radio, in general, not necessarily specifically to Christian radio. Pandora, Spotify, streaming, podcasts, changes in the car dashboard, and whatever the next-greatest-thing will be, just around the corner. But, radio’s demise has been predicted for decades. I am bullish on the future of radio, as long as we continue to innovate and create.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and Why?
I have been so fortunate to have worked with and been led by so many amazing people, but three in particular come to mind. Barry Armstrong, whose passion for the format as well as leadership and entrepreneurial spirit have made him highly respected in our industry, for years. Jon Hull, who has selflessly coached, directed and mentored so many radio stations and individuals over multiple years, with his great wisdom. And Jack Taddeo, who is a longtime friend in Mainstream. Jack has been a great source of career coaching, direction and advice, going back to my early on air and programming days.