Robert Forbes Interview
Career Capsule: I began working in radio in 2001 with KGTS, Positive Life Radio, as a freshman at Walla Walla College. After graduation in 2006, I landed a marketing assistant job for the show ‘Living Christian’ at KCIS, AM 630, at CRISTA Ministries in Seattle. From there, I transitioned into working with KCMS, SPIRIT 105.3 FM, as a sales and promotions assistant. That job bloomed into becoming the station webmaster, in-house graphic designer, and Promotions team lead. In 2010 I was invited to be a part of the Barefoot Media team in Idaho and became the Morning Show Host at 88.1 KTFY, Twin Falls. In my 4 years as the local representative for KTFY, I worked closely with the KTSY team in Boise as well. In 2014, I was blessed to receive an opportunity to join the team at SOS Radio in Las Vegas, where I am currently the Promotions Director and Midday Air Personality.
Robert, tell us what’s new at SOS Radio … news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
SOS Radio has been broadcasting hope for 48 years and I’ve been privileged to be a part of the team for the last 6 of them. The heart of this ministry has always been about loving God and loving people. Not much has changed! We play a variety of uplifting music. We’re very real about our faith and don’t mind sharing about our struggles. We boldly proclaim scripture! We take on interviews with sensitive subjects because we know how important it is to tackle the issues that people face on a daily basis. Something special about SOS Radio is that we are committed to working hand-in-hand with the Mayor and local officials to help solve the top issues in our city: Addictions, Education, Homelessness, Human Trafficking, Community Unity, and Strengthening the Family.
How has your SOS Radio show changed during the pandemic?
The heart of my show is has always been encouragement and therefore, not much has changed during this pandemic. What I’ve tried to do is a combination of sharing positive good news stories as well as being in the moment with the listeners and letting the song be my guide for what I’m going to say next. I’ve learned that listener is there for the music first, and the personality second. The music sets the tone and it’s often a good idea to ride that wave. Something else I love doing is helping my listeners realize what things in life they can be thankful for; in the good times and in the bad.
What is the best show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Some of the best advice I’ve been given came from Scott Herrold, my PD at SOS Radio. He said that before we can ever pour out encouragement and hope to others, we ourselves must be filled. So he told me to take time with God. Read scripture. Pray. Allow Him to fill me first, so that I had something to pour out to my listeners. As far as worst advice? After seeing my photo on the website, a listener once told me that I should “sound more Black.” They felt that I sounded like a white guy on the radio and they were shocked to find out I wasn’t. So there’s that.
Some say the more Christian stations in a market the “better”…. What’s your opinion?
If the gospel is being spread, I have no issue at all with more Christian stations in the same market. Besides, “competition” can help refine you and challenge you to become your very best. In the end, Jesus is lifted up even more and the listener is better served. (With that said, please pledge your financial support to our station and not the other guys.)
What’s your opinion on podcasts… is it necessary to have one, are they a threat to radio… etc?
Podcasts have certainly carved out a place in today’s society. Whatever topic you’re interested in, there’s likely a podcast out there to speak on the subject. So in that sense, podcasts can be an open door for Christian radio to expand into areas that we don’t have time to talk about during our regular shows. We can host deeper, more extended interviews with authors and pastors, community leaders, and artists. I don’t see podcasts as a threat to radio, but rather a supplement. However, let’s be honest about people’s attention spans. A person has to be committed to get through an entire podcast. Most people will still prefer the simplicity of radio that serves up their favorite songs and brings along an air personality that feels like a friend.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
If I knew the answer to this for sure, I’d start my own Christian talent agency. But I suspect that new air talent will come from the ground we cultivate. I’ve always felt that Christian radio could do more to integrate themselves into educational systems. There are plenty of Christian schools that would be open to a broadcasting elective. We could help with that. Just getting kids excited about what radio is all about is key. This is why I love that SOS Radio still hosts station tours on a regular basis. The experience plants seeds in the hearts of youth.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
Let me first preface that I’m in no way an authority on this topic. Much smarter, more seasoned professionals in this industry grapple with these things. From my limited point of view, I can say this: Whatever obstacles Christian radio will face are the same obstacles that Christians themselves will face. The world continues to be chaotic and people are struggling with their faith. Christian radio must take a firm stand on Biblical truth and be the lighthouse that brings people back safely to shore. In terms of the music on Christian radio, I believe we need to be careful of falling into the trap of everything sounding the same. I’ve got two daughters, ages 12 and 15, and both of them prefer mainstream music. Why is that? What is the “it” factor that modern Christian Music is missing? Part of this issue may be the radio industry’s fear of trying something new for fear of losing financial support from their base.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I grew up listening not only to Christian radio but I also loved scanning through my presets. At the time, in Seattle, the leading hip-hop station had a guy named “T-Man in the Morning.” And to me, he was the funniest, most entertaining guy I had ever heard on the air. What I loved is that he could integrate everyday callers into his show and make them the star. And they would become recurring call-in guests that listeners loved hearing from. He created his own brand of community and I knew that I wanted to welcome my listeners into my show in a similar way.
With that said, there have been so many talented and seasoned pros that have spoken into my life and they may not even realize it. John Frost taught me the importance of storytelling. Mike Couchman’s example showed me that good content and brevity can go hand-in-hand. Scott and Sam’s morning show taught me to have fun on the air. Sarah Taylor showed me that we can be transparent about our weaknesses and it enriches our power to encourage. Travis Culver taught me that fundraising on the air doesn’t have to be awkward. Scott Herrold taught me that it’s okay to be bold about your faith on the air. These are my influences and I have a lot to live up to.