Taylor Hohulin Interview 7-24-17
Career Capsule: I decided to pursue Christian radio when I was 18. I was all set to go to college and become a personal trainer, and then I took one semester of high school anatomy. When I realized just how many bones were in the human body, and that I would be required to know stuff about them, I rethought my plans. By that time, I was already committed to attending John Brown University in the fall, so I started looking through other options on campus. I eventually found their Broadcasting degree and learned about the success KLRC had had in the industry. I’d always had a heart for Christian music, and I had a feeling this would be a field that would require little to no bone memorization, so I went for it.
I managed to snag a work study position at KLRC after my first year at JBU, and from there, I kept finding opportunities to try my hand at different things – from production, to on-air work, to helping launch the student internet radio station, MyPositiveEdge.Com. After my wife and I graduated from John Brown, I had the opportunity to move back to my hometown and work in Dallas at KVRK Power FM, first in afternoons and then in mornings. After God did some crazy things and disguised them all as coincidences, I’ve found my way to Des Moines, where I co-host the morning show and serve as program director at Life 107.1.
Taylor… Tell us what’s new with KNWI… news, changes, & with YOU… etc?
It’s been a wild time at Life 107.1, but a good time. Our new station manager, Bruce Barrows, joined us in September, and I began serving as program director in December. You’d think two changes like that would be hard to weather, but this team hasn’t missed a beat. Bruce is fond of saying we’re “small but mighty,” and we are certainly that. We’re still looking to fill an on air and creative services position, and I can’t wait to see how God uses us once that happens!
What are some unique characteristics you’ve discovered about your market?
I’ve been so struck by the generosity of central Iowans – and I’m not even talking about fundraising here. We’ve found our listeners want to make a difference in the community, but just need to be pointed in the right direction. Our listener engagement director (and my morning cohort) Jen Green has made some fantastic connections in our community, which has enabled us to be part of some really cool things. We’ve helped our listeners feed the hungry with food drives at concerts. We’ve partnered with local churches to bless single moms the day before Mother’s Day. Most recently, we’ve arranged a Drive Thru Baby Shower, where our listeners swing by on a lunch break with donations to a local crisis pregnancy center. Each time, our listeners have shown up in a big way, and it’s always a blast to see it happen.
What is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?
Best advice? Before he left to be the station manager for KTIS, Dave St. John would ask “What’s she hearing?” if we were getting bogged down by some decision or another. I always liked that. It’s easy to get wrapped up in scheduling rules and song categories and clocks – and those are all good things – but it’s important to put all those invisible things in the right context…and to remember most listeners don’t hear “Power Gold.”
Worst advice? I can’t pinpoint something exactly, but it probably came in the form of an email that ended with “I’m sure many of your listeners feel the same way.”
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
From a spiritual perspective, I absolutely agree. As much as I love Life 107.1, I know the station isn’t for everybody. The good news is there are other stations in town reaching people we can’t. There are a few of us in Des Moines, and we’re all focused on building our corners of the Kingdom. That’s absolutely a good thing. And from a professional perspective, I think it’s really healthy to realize you aren’t the only show in town. You earn the right to be heard.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
A killer phone call. I mean, Jen and I are total radio pros who can make compelling radio on our own…but once that first call comes in from someone who gets what we’re trying to do and wants to join in the fun, it breathes all kinds of life into the show, and things take off from there.
Where will future Christian radio air talent come from?
From people who invest in them and take chances on them. Everywhere I’ve been, I was fortunate to have people who believed in me and who took the time to pour into me…and even let me try stuff that I wasn’t even sure I was ready to try. I’m better for it, and the whole industry will be better for it the more that kind of thing happens. That’s something I love about Northwestern Media. You hear a lot about how their people are empowered and accountable, and that’s a real thing. We’re given great resources, training, and mentorship, but we’re also expected to put all that stuff to use.
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
I don’t know if this is the biggest, but it’s definitely getting harder for young talent to break in, especially for on-air work. Not everyone has the luxury I did of plugging into a college radio station where you can get your feet wet from 10-midnight Saturday nights. And then most of us who’ve gotten established end up having to wear so many hats that it’s hard to find time to develop the young talent that is able to break in.
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I could list all the guys I used to listen to, wondering if I’d ever reach their level of mastery, but it really boils down to all the people I’ve gotten to work with.
When I was at KLRC, Jeremy Louis (who’s now at Boost 101.9 in St Louis) taught me basically everything I know about production, and Mark Michaels kept giving me opportunities to try new things and grow a little more. Eddie Alcaraz and Chris Goodwin at Power FM were willing to give me a shot at live drive time in the Dallas market, even though I was fresh out of college and had never done radio full time. And Dave St John and Bruce Barrows at Life 107.1 have spent a lot of time pouring as much radio wisdom as possible into me. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by the kinds of people I have, and I don’t want to take that for granted.