Feature InterviewInterviews

Nate Thomas Interview 2/13/17

Nate Thomas
Mornings/Station Manager/Program Director
Springfield, MA

Career Capsule: Got my start in Springfield Mass (my hometown) at WHYN FM & AM

2000-2003 First Full Time gig as night time host at Kiss 95.7 (WKSS) Hartford, Ct

2003-2004 Nights/Production Director at KDUV-FM (Spirit 88.9/100.1)

2004-2008 Afternoons on WAY-FM Network/Production Director Nashville, TN

2008-present Mornings/Station Manager/Program Director at The Q 99.7
(WLCQ) Springfield, MA

Nate, Tell us what’s new with WLCQ… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?

For the first 5 years of my time with building a team at The Q 99.7 we had NO Contemporary Christian Radio….EVER! We were the only game in town.
We always knew that our calling was to be local…in the community…living and breathing community. We always did…and continue to do so even after K-LOVE purchased WCCC in Hartford, Ct which not only covers almost all of Ct but the entire Springfield Metro. This happened about 3 years ago. By the way, Howard Stern got his start there…heritage rock station for sure. Glad to see God turning that around…I mean who saw that coming?!!

2016 was a year of growth and a bit of transition as we hired another full-time Underwriting Manager. That makes 2! Yes, 2 sales guys at one station! We also hired a part-timer to help with production/programming/etc We also just celebrated 10 Years on the air!!

We continue to work closely with Ryan Gagne & The Q 90.1 (WYQQ) in Worcester, Ma. We are two separate stations that share the same name (The
Q) but are owned by different entities. Being so close in proximity we like to work together, share ideas, and help each other to super-serve our cities.

We have begun to do the same with Y 102.5 (WYPH) in Harford, Ct.
Contemporary Christian music radio is very scarce in this area of the country. We have to stick together!! Love Bill Grimmissen and his heart to reach people in Ct through Y 102.5!

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

Thankfully the Morning show starts at 6am! Not 5!! This gives me some extra prep time, etc. And I don’t have to wake up at 2:30am! 4:45 is much better :) I work with my co-host, Leslie, who also voice-tracks 12-2pm. I prep the local news and we prepare our topics for the day.  Time and time again, no matter how much fun stuff we do, people always talk about our prayers on the air! This is huge for us…we are not afraid to pray on the air and it really changes the atmosphere in people’s cars, homes, and work places…prayer is powerful! We also just try to speak truth and life over people. So many people are hurting and torn down from negative comments and talk. This is their only positive place to experience a word from the Lord. Just speaking that out in everyday on-air conversation that sounds (and hopefully IS) authentic can really makes a big impact in people’s lives!

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

BEST: Talk about things people care about.

WORST: You can’t get hurt by a song you don’t play. Ummm yes you can if it’s a hit! Do that a dozen times and it will hurt even more. ha!

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

I do agree with this to some degree. The ultimate goal is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, yes! Yet some markets have 5 stations virtually all doing the same thing…the formats are virtually identical.  I say, at least serve another demographic for Christ! This is why I love what is happening with the Positive Hits/Hip Hop channels. You have the Mama station (or is it the Papa?) The Big AC helping to underwrite another channel that can serve a younger demo other than 25-54. This is a very good thing and I wish more stations with multiple signals would do this!  We need to reach that younger demo…so important!!

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

Lots of water…I actually drink a ton of water in the morning even before coffee! I heard its good for you : ) Oh and prayer…yes…I really don’t want to miss it when it comes to this platform God has given me…so I try and seek Him in the morning (like that Rich Mullins song) ; )

Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?

We really need to start developing talent. I know some stations are doing this, but I really feel like we all need to contribute to the industry as a whole by doing just that…investing in people that have a passion to do radio. We are currently doing this at The Q 99.7…and I am very excited to see where God takes this young man as we continue to not only coach but encourage him!

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

Just about everything! lol seriously. We all know that we live in a generation of “I want it and I want it now”….so there’s the challenge.
There’s so much distraction and “now” stuff out there! But at the same time I think it presents a GREAT OPPORTUNITY for local Christian radio to cut through the noise! Talk about things people care about: faith, life, etc. Be real. Be personal. Be in the community. That’s a win-win. I even think that with all the “get what you want when you want it now” out there…radio can be refreshing! You never know what song will come on next…but “I know it will be a song I love”. There’s that slight element of surprise that I think is still appealing to people (unless its a song they don’t like). I believe there will always be a place for good radio…especially stations that dive deep into their communities! People still want that human touch and to be connected to what’s happening in their communities.

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

I had many influences growing up listening to the radio. We had no Christian radio so my early influences included jocks from Kiss 95.7, 96.5 WTIC FM, 94.7 WMAS, 93 WHYN FM, WHYN AM 560. I used to listen to an oldies show (50’s and 60’s music) on Friday nights out of Greenfield, Mass with a heritage DJ, Phil Dee who was on the air in the early 60’s on WHYN AM 560 in Springfield. Just found out he’s the only jock to be inducted into the Mass Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame that’s not from Boston! Go figure! I loved how he put his personality into the show, had fun, and you could tell he really loved what he did. I just found out..he’s still on the air as a matter of fact. He’s 80 something years old…owns his own station…does the morning show…if I make it to 80 something I think that would be something! ha

Rich Dunn who was the found of The Q 99.7 is a hero to me for sure! He had no radio experience but loved God and wanted more people to know about Him. This opportunity came up and he spent years on the phone, putting in paper work, his own finances, and started The Q in an area of the country where he was told time and time again “this won’t work here”. In spite of being told this by countless people he wouldn’t buy the lie. He knows that our God is the God of the impossible. He has been instrumental in showing me what it means to truly live by faith!! Ten years later we’re still on the air…with a larger audience and more support than ever before!

I think each person I have come into contact with throughout my career has put a deposit in me. I’ve learned by listening to different shows, hearing what consultants had to say, and years of experience. God is good and I’m grateful for the journey.

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