Career Capsule: I first got interested in radio my freshman year at a small Bible College in Grand Rapids, MI. A friend of mine was working at the small college radio station and invited me to stop by. That was where I was bitten by the radio bug and broadcasting became my major. During college I worked at their radio station WGNR. I also worked part time at WFUR, Grand Rapids. After I graduated, I worked full-time at KBHW in international Falls Minnesota. After about four years, I shifted over to WLJN radio in Traverse City Michigan. We were there nearly 10 years when I was invited to joined Moody Radio and headed down to Atlanta to manage WAFS AM. It was just under three years in Atlanta when Moody Radio bought the radio stations in Indianapolis area. I was asked if I would be open to moving to Indianapolis and get the station up and running. So, we moved to Indianapolis in the fall of 97 and we’ve been here ever since. WGNR AM/FM signed on January 26, 1998. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary. Moody Radio Indiana is a regional outreach with 5 FM stations. Our main signal is WGNR, FM, Indianapolis. The other four FM stations in central Indiana carry the WGNR signal. Those stations are WHPL Lafayette, WIWC Kokomo, WFOF Covington, and WMBL Mitchel/Bloomington.
1. Ray, tell us what’s new at Moody Radio Indiana… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?
Let me share a couple of things personally. I’ve been married to Wendy for just over 40 years. We have three kids, two are married. And with those two families we have 15 grandkids and one on the way. Now to the station news, we just celebrated the 25th anniversary of signing WGNR on the air. We had a great evening of worship and celebration featuring Selah, Moody Bible Insitute, president, Dr. Mark Job, and of course, all of the wonderful staff here at WGNR. It’s been fun to see how God has grown the ministry over the past 25 years. If we just get out of the way, God can do some really amazing things.
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?
I’ve been in full-time Christian broadcasting for over 40 years. And over those years, we’ve seen a lot of technology that helps us to be better at what we do. And I think it also helps us to be more efficient. But in those early years, everything was done manually. And someone had to be at the radio station to keep things on the air. And you had to work hard to keep that balance of family and work. When I started with Moody Radio, John Maddex, the manager of broadcast stations who hired me put a high priority on family. And he lead by example with his own family. There were always seasons of life that were busier than others at the radio station. But you have to be deliberate in your thinking and planning to care for your family. Something else that I would highly recommend is that you have an outside activity or hobby, other than radio. So many of the radio people that I talk to appear to have no other life outside of radio. And that can’t be healthy. I remember that back in the early 2000’s I felt that I needed to get involved with something outside of the radio ministry. I had always had interest in firefighting/EMT and decided to get certified so I could join the local volunteer fire department. I started volunteering in 2004 and continue to be involved with the fire department. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers and I really enjoy giving back to the community during some of the darkest hours. I mentioned this because I think it’s important that we have a life outside of our ministry. We can get so inward looking that we start being less effective with what we do. My wife, Wendy, and I also enjoy camping. And we make it a point to hook up our camper and get out several times over the summer to just spend time together. We love to kayak and fish.
Overall, what is the best managerial advice you’ve been given? The worst?
I started managing a radio station, just a few years out of college. It was a small radio station up in Traverse City, but it provided the opportunity to learn how to lead. And I think the best advice I’ve received was to make sure that my communication was seasoned with Grace. I was young and had a lot of great ideas but to be able to communicate in a way that encourage people to join you had to be learned. One more thought, don’t think to highly of yourself. Be humble and teachable. As scripture says think of others more highly than yourself.
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
As I mentioned earlier, technology has allowed us to do things we never thought we could do years ago. The pandemic forced us to rethink how we did radio. It’s so easy to do things the way you always have mainly because we know they work, and most of the time are very effective. But the pandemic made us adjust our thinking, and to start using our technology to do things differently. I think the biggest was how to not just stay on the air with the staff off site, but to keep up the quality of content. We’ve had the technology to do that for years, but for many we never went that direction until we had to. Sometimes things like this have to force our hand to make the changes we probably should’ve considered earlier. And while we have the staff back in our studios, it’s good to know that on a moments notice we can shift and still provide quality broadcasting, even when we can’t get to the studio.
What are your thoughts on podcasting, should all Christian broadcasters have a podcast?
Technology has allowed us to do things that we could never dream of decades ago. Think about this, not too many years ago people had to have radios, and we had to have broadcast facilities to get our content out. But now our content is available not just over the air but anywhere around the world. And as you’re reading this you’re saying of course we all know that. And so when it comes to podcasting, podcasting means different things to different people. So regardless of what terminology we use there’s a need to make our content available in a digital world so that as many people as possible have access to it. And if that’s a special podcast that staff do outside of the regular program, so be it. If it’s taking content from their program and editing it down to the meat and making that available, great. I’m not just a radio personality anymore. I’m a content creator that uses every means possible to get that content out to the masses.
Where will new up and coming Christian Radio air talent come from?
The question of where new and upcoming Christian radio air talent will come from is really an interesting one. I think that part of the answer to this question relates to the type of programming that your station has. For instance, here at Moody Radio we’re really big into content. I look for people that have depth in their Christian life, and in life experience that can be relatable to the audience. They may or may not have a radio experience. But you can train people the mechanics of radio. It’s harder to mold peoples heart if it’s not already bent in the right direction.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian?
As I look at the radio industry, it seems like we are in a huge transition. We have many of our listeners who are still tied to terrestrial radio. And it can be hard to get these older people to transition to a digital technology. So we need to make sure that these facilities are in good shape for the years to come. But we are also seeing generations that aren’t tied to terrestrial radio and are listen differently. And like many of us they want to listen when it’s convenient for them. So while I don’t think it’s an obstacle, I do think that we need to be wise on how we get our content out to the masses. The technology allows us to do that. But it also takes more resources to do both of these well.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
There are many people in my life over the years that have helped to mold me into the person I am. Most were coworkers or friends that I just learn to do life with. But the one person that had the most influence is John Maddex, who was manager of broadcast stations at Moody Radio. When he hired me, I was a young 30 something with a lot of ambition. But John’s steady leadership helped me learn several things. A leader cares for people, that we can laugh and enjoy life together, and the importance of the balance of ministry and family.