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Shaun Michaels Interview

Shaun Michaels
Production Director
KLVV/KJTH
Owner/Host Christian Music Rewind
Ponca City, OK

 

Career Capsule:  I was destined for radio since I was 7 or 8 years old and got a cassette recorder for my birthday.  I began making my own radio shows on tape and later distributed them to friends at Church and the neighborhood. My first paying job in radio was during high school at KCVS, a hometown Christian station in Salina, Kansas.  After graduation I stayed on for 2 years as Program Director.  In 1994 I started college in Nashville, TN and worked as a student employee at the Trevecca Nazarene University station WNAZ.  In 1998 I traveled back closer to home working part time in news talk radio before landing a gig at Christian talk Bott Radio Network in Overland Park, KS where I served as Chief Control Room Operator for the network.  Longing to get back into CCM radio I took a job in 2000 at an upstart online radio station named Gorillaforce.com. Finally in 2003 I found my home now for over 20 years running at KLVV which eventually became the House FM network. Also, in 2006 I branched out with my own syndicated classic CCM radio show called Christian Music Rewind.

 

Shaun, tell us what’s new at Christian Music Rewind & The House FM… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?

I just celebrated 20 years at The House FM/KJTH.  The network has recently expanded into 2 different facilities.  The original studios are still in Ponca City, OK and now we have new studios in Edmond, OK.  With this expansion we can now  participate in more events and meet more people locally in the Oklahoma City metro.

As for my syndicated show Christian Music Rewind, it is currently syndicated by New Release Today and heard on over 100 radio stations as well as dozens of online streams.  The show features classic CCM from the 80’s through the mid 2000’s, artist interviews and many other nostalgic features for 2 hours every week.

 

How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Radio to ‘have a life”?

Christian radio is all about the family so it’s important to practice what I preach on the air.  I am the father of 3 children age 7, 10 and 12.  My wife Deanna and I will celebrate 17 years of marriage this August.  My kids love that I work at a radio station and they help out whenever they can.  It’s a privilege to be able to take my family to events and even meet the artists.  In many ways the radio station is a part of their life just like it is for me.

 

As an audio creator, what do you do to keep up with trends, and technology?

I have been doing audio production full time for over 20 years and am pretty proficient in that aspect by now. One thing I want to become more versatile in is video editing.  Creative services is becoming more streamlined with video and graphic editing so its good to have all those tools available to use. Also, it’s so easy and economical to set up a home studio to do personal side business or occasional work from home.  I converted a walk in closet into a home studio by putting foam on the walls that I got from candy cane boxes that the radio station ordered at Christmas. All you need for equipment is a laptop, studio mic and Scarlett USB interface to get started.

 

What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Radio, that you didn’t know before?

I think the pandemic finally opened my mind to the realization that people are not listening to FM radio in the home any more.  I know that was already a factor before 2020 but Covid really hit that home when people stopped listening in the car.  We have to be on smart speakers, mobile and TV apps, web streaming or whatever way that is available for people to listen. People don’t have kitchen, bathroom or alarm clock radios anymore.  They have computers, phones and smart speakers instead.  We must promote listening on these devices. 

 

What are your thoughts on AI in Christian Radio?

I think AI has a few more years before it makes a deep impact but I think the first thing that it will affect is voice-over talent.  I recently found an incredible program from Elevenlabs called Prime AI. You can literally upload a sample of your voice and in seconds it will clone anything you type in your own voice or the voice of someone else. I have already used the built in voices for short production scripts such as song titles in promos.  It won’t be long before I could see programs like this replacing station image voices completely. And maybe years down the road it could replace an entire on-air personality.  The only safeguard I see against this is to up your game as a personality or talent.  Always find a way to be better than a computer program.

 

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

I am grateful to The House FM management for providing me great tools to do my job.  I have access to Audible Genesis production libraries, a TM Studio jingle package, my personal choice of editing software Vegas Pro and Sound Forge and one of the best on-air automation systems, Zetta.  Not every production director in this radio industry is as blessed to have as many tools as I do, and you can certainly make great production with less, however I am very thankful for what I have.

 

Do you feel syndication is  positive for Christian radio?

Syndication is one of many options for programmers. Part-time weekend voice tracking is another.  A syndicated show can fill up time and save money especially on the weekends but not every show is worth just “filling time”. Whatever you are putting on the air, the most important thing is that it serves the listener.  Not every syndicated show is a good fit.  Obviously you want a quality sounding show but also a niche that fits your unique audience.  In the case of my syndicated program Christian Music Rewind, it’s definitely geared toward stations with a heritage listenership, but I go to great lengths to try and play the most familiar songs that as many listeners as possible will know.  As the years have gone on, I have updated to some newer classics to stay relevant.  It would be easy and fun to just play all my favorites, but the show would not be nearly as successful or beneficial to the affiliates. I believe if you concentrate on your target audience and their wants first and foremost then you will see positive results. 

 

Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?

Like many, I grew up listening to Casey Casem on American Top 40.  But the host that really connected to me and my sense of humor was Rick Dees.  I called his request line so much in high school that I got on his Weekly Top 40 show in 1990.  My dream as a youngster other than owning my own radio station was to syndicate my own show like Rick Dees. I am blessed to have been able to do that for over 15 years now.  

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