Career Capsule: I’m your classic intern-never-leaves story. Internship at Spirit 105.3 began in 2002, and my keycard has been working ever since!
Sarah, tell us what’s new with you?
Well, I just recently took three kids back to school. Nora is in PreK, Ethan’s in 4th grade, and Olivia just started High School so if anyone has a paper bag I could breathe into, that would be great.
Olivia is in choir and drama, and cheer, and running for ASB and leading worship team. So basically, anything with a microphone, I have absolutely no idea where she gets it from.
In your experience, what ingredients are needed to make a Christian Radio music show work?
Relatability. Everything I’m saying between songs and during breaks needs to be adding value. I loved a quote from…Tracy Johnson? John Frost? Probably both said it: “If you’re not adding value, then by definition you’re taking it away.”
Overall, what is the best show/programming advice you’ve been given?
I’m grateful to have gleaned insights from some brilliant programmers over the past 19 years, so I have a lot of answers to this question. I’ll go with the most recent since its fresh in my mind: Ty McFarland reminded me the other day of something we all know but need to hear again and again: if we build our stations around our listeners, we must start with why they came here. The phrase Mark Ramsey uses is “What job did they hire us for?”
Who else can I quote? 🙂
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?
I always knew people came to us for hope, but I believe it’s happening today at a deeper level.
What is your opinion of podcasts for stations & air talent? Are they necessary, must have one, etc.?… Please explain…
If a station has an air talent who is passionate about putting together a podcast, then 100% yes. But don’t do it just because you think you are supposed to. I love me some Brant & Sherri Oddcast and “What Else” with Corey Mann. I’m grateful for Jason Rackows mad production skillz helping me get my Passion Meets Purpose podcast off to a strong start, and to Scott Karow at Terra Firma for taking the baton. I’m loving longer-form interviews as opposed to the :60 soundbites I’ve always felt constrained by. Plus, I can edit pieces of the podcasts into those bits and playback on-air. Win/Win!
Generally speaking, to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?
White space to show prep and create. Margin. So many people needing to fulfill multiple roles – it’s easy to find yourself in a space where you have leftovers to give. Also, a supportive team. Find somebody to teach and find somebody to teach you.
What would you tell young Sarah, 20 years ago?
I would tell her; you’re learning from some of the best. Be a student, always. Take mental inventory on what you love, what you don’t when it comes to communicators. Adapt and change. Seek out super smart feedback and surround yourself with others who are just as passionate about this music as you are. I would tell her the excitement she felt on day 1 would still be there 20 years later.
What’s a project you haven’t completed yet but hope to do in the future?
Write a book!
Do you still sing along to your own station on the commute in the morning?
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
Ted, I don’t think you have the space for this! I could list hundreds of names. Let’s do lightening round with a few: Mike Tedesco hired me. My gratitude for that one decision is limitless. Sam Kelly taught me by example, and she didn’t even realize it. I just absorbed what she did, copy/paste/repeat. I love my relationships with the labels and independent promoters, getting a chance to talk about music we love with people we love, as Chris Hauser says. I’ve loved watching a friend of mine who I deeply respect be promoted to our General Manager, Channah Hanberg. She officially took the position a week before everything shut down for COVID in March of 2020. Can you imagine? She’s led us with wisdom and grace (as well as our VP, TJ Malievsky).
There are so many more people, and if you’re reading this and don’t see your name here, trust that I probably have your number in my phone and have already told you personally how grateful I am for you, because that’s how I roll. And yes, Ted, you’re one of them. 😉 Don’t tell how long it took me to finally get these answers back to you! ”