Russ Brooks: Program Director/On Air Personality
Nancy Brooks: on Air Personality/Promotions
Career Capsule: Russ: I did radio in a “previous” life. After a call into full-time church ministry, I kept reminding God (ha ha) how much I enjoyed it. He knew. After 12 years He moved me out of that ministry aspect and after a few left turns I found the right door. I have been part of The JOY FM ministry team for almost 20 years.
Nancy: I call myself the accidental DJ. Russ wanted a co-host and money was tight at the station. Hiring someone was not an option. He asked me to come on twice a week as a volunteer. I was not convinced that I was the one. (Honestly, I was terrified). After much persuasion, I relented and soon, the twice a week became 5 days a week. Now it’s Russ and Nancy during the week, a Sunday solo shift and a midday shift at a sister station! Christian radio has a way of getting under your skin and you can’t NOT do it. You see the difference that the music and ministry make in the community and God challenges you to “step into the water” a little further.
Russ & Nancy, tell us what’s new at WIZB … news, changes, & new with YOU… etc?
Russ: Although it’s been about 5 years, getting to work with my wife keeps radio ministry new and exciting (almost) every day.
Nancy: I am now full time at the station. For the past 5 years I worked part time at the station and full time at a doctor’s office.
The JOY FM Alabama keeps growing! We have a new signal in Montgomery, the state’s capital and expanded our reach with a new antenna. The JOY FM Alabama was voted best Radio Station in the Wiregrass two years in a row and RUSS AND NANCY on The JOY FM were voted Best Radio Personalities for 2020. We are honored and blessed.
How has your show changed during the pandemic?
Nancy: We have not changed much. Our message is hope and encouragement in all situations. We have all needed more of that this past year. Honestly, we tried to navigate the line between discussing COVID and but not living there. People know what’s going on, we give them something else…
Russ: Our focus has not been so much on the pandemic as it has been reminding our listener of the hope, peace and, of course JOY, that God offers. The world is focused on the “oh, my goodness”. We focus on The Goodness.
What is the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Nancy: BE YOURSELF! That’s the best advice out there. Just make sure yourself is who God planned you to be. I work with an incredible group of people at RTN, everyone is willing to help and give good advice. There has not been bad advice from them!
Russ: I consider just about every piece of advice that is offered. One piece that continues to echo came from my friend Rob Dempsey and that was basically, “let’s hear the same Russ on the air that we hear in the hallway”.
On a day-by-day basis, I lean heavy on the confidence my friend Mark Giles has in me. His words carry great meaning to me.
Some say the more Christian stations in a market the “better”…. What’s your opinion?
Nancy: I don’t think “more” is better. I think “better” is more. Meaning that Christians Stations need to see the value they have in the community. We represent the Creator of the Universe, the Great I AM. Do it with glory and honor! It’s an honor to serve Jesus and tell others about Him. Let’s live that way.
Russ: On one hand, it might be a good thing; in that the stations would be working hard to serve the listener. The down side might be that the focus would be on the station and not the listener.
What’s your opinion on podcasts… is it necessary to have one, are they a threat to radio… etc?
Russ: I, personally, do not have or take the time to listen to podcasts so it’s hard for me to form an opinion either way. Nothing can touch radio, if we serve the listener well.
Nancy: I know podcasts are a “thing” now. There are so many of them, it’s easy to get lost in all the noise. Don’t get me wrong, there are great ones out there and they serve a purpose. I don’t feel they are necessary. I certainly don’t feel we need to tell people to stop listening to the radio to go listen to your podcast!
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
Russ: The heart. It must come from the heart.
Nancy: This sounds like such a church answer, but new talent will come from who God calls. We all know on air talent is not a cushy job. It’s hard work. It’s working to share godly teaching and advice. It’s looking for the good and sharing it. It’s being held to a high standard. It’s a ministry.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
Russ: In a word: Genuineness. It is definitely one of the obstacles. We should live life with our listener showing warts and all.
Nancy: The biggest obstacle is having a safe place to vent, to find encouragement, to grow in your craft. Having a mentor that you can trust to guide you as you learn the craft. It’s not all about pushing buttons and being charming.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Russ: I mentioned Rob Dempsey early. He’s an influencer for the above-mentioned reason.
Dave Cruise, well I’m just going to say it: I want to be Dave Cruise when I grow up.
Possibly the biggest influence on me in both radio and life is Mark Giles. We have an awesome relationship and somewhat of a kindred spirit.
Nancy: I work with an incredible network of amazing radio heroes. The JOY FM is an amazing group to work with. My all-time radio hero? My husband, Russ. He is my rock. He taught me so very much in life and radio. Another big influence is Mark Giles. He had faith in a loud, brash hillbilly girl from the beginning.