Ted Gocke Interview 9-17-18
Career Capsule: At the age of 16 (1983) I responded to God’s Call on my life to enter full-time ministry. I served as a youth pastor/associate pastor for 23 years. My first radio job came in 1987 at Christian Music Station WXLN in my hometown of Louisville KY. I was the “all-nighter” for the remainder of my college years (University of Louisville) and first year of marriage (Total of five years). I also worked part time at a few other radio stations in Louisville before taking a brief career detour. (After marriage I worked as a program director for the YMCA, a mgr at The Fudgery, loaded planes at UPS, and sold packaging machinery-before God led me to Ringgold Georgia to serve as the Youth Pastor and Associate Pastor at Burning Bush Baptist Church. After serving there for a couple of months we had a visitor to the church office-the new sales mgr of brand new 102.7FM The Light (which would become J103). Attempting to sell our church a church partnership, instead our church secretary introduced him to “our new youth pastor who was in Christian radio in Louisville.” 102.7 was to sign on the air in a couple of weeks. He passed my contact information to the Program Director of this new radio station, (Matt Stockman). Matt hired me to do traffic and weather for both the morning and afternoon shows. I would “call in” my reports. From that day on I have served in a number of positions (tracking, afternoon live, and eventually morning drive (for more than 15 years and currently). I have also served as Development Director, Promotions Director Music Director and now Program Director/AM Drive.
Ted, what’s new at J103…news….changes, & with YOU…etc?
In the most recent future, God has promoted various people at J103 (Partners for Christian Media), Our PD Justin Wade has become our General Mgr. I was promoted from Drive/Music Director/Promotions Director to Program Director, and as a result we were able to promote my assistant/intern Kaitlin Kibble to Promotions Director. Our ministry has been blessed with longevity among our staff. With very little turnover-It is apparent that people love serving in our ministry.
We are excited to see what God is doing in our ministry JRadio and some of the cutting edge technology He is about to unveil to the Christian Music Industry. It will provide our listeners with a “choose your own listening adventure” unheard of anywhere else. Our Video Testimony ministry “Come On Let’s Go” is unveiling “The Big Share.” This fundraising endeavor will launch the “largest advertising campaign for Christ.” Comeonletsgo.com is a rapidly growing collection of testimonies from all walks of life sharing hundreds of stories of how God has moved in the lives of people.
For me personally, God has given my wife, Amy and I a new daughter-in-law in the last 30 days. We are so blessed to have an incredible family. Our three grown children, son-in-law, and now daughter-in-law are such a huge blessing to our lives.
Christian Radio has become very competitive…what do you do to stand out from the crowd?
We have heard and believe that the future of terrestrial radio is in decline and uncertain. The debate of how fast is not one we choose to worry about, because God is in control of our ministry. As a result of His faithfulness we have chosen to diversify. With our other three ministries: JFest, JRadio and Comeonletsgo.com, we are doing our best to be relevant today and in the future. While our FM radio is currently relevant we choose to be “real” and impactful in our community. Having longevity among our onair staff means a lot. We have a heritage
and have a real “relationship” with our listeners. We are family. We try to throw off all of the “radio-airs” and just be real. Listeners don’t want the “Big Radio Voice” anymore-they want someone they trust and would love to sit down and talk “life” with. We strive to be our listeners “friends.” J103 is also very visible in our community. Being the recipients of Chattanooga’s Best of the Best Radio Station for six years shows us that we truly are successful in our community outreach events. The J103 Christmas Wish, Ironman Triathlon Runner’s Aide Stations, Backpack Project, and dozens of other service, ministry events are effective in making sure the Tennessee Valley knows we are here for them.
What has been the best programming/show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The Best: “Interesting is the opposite of Relevant” Be Relevant! And also “Don’t try to be “The Star/Sun” be the Moon and reflect “The Son.”
The Worst: I know “Show Prep” sites have their place (as a launching pad for local creativity), but they are a detriment when it causes you to sacrifice local relevance. Why talk about something “everyone else” can talk about in any market?
Some say more Christian stations in a market the better, do you agree with that, why or why not?
Wow! What a question. First of all, God is a big God! He is in control, so if He has chosen to raise up multiple stations in a market then it is apparent that there is more
work than can be done by only one station. However, it is sad that there are some cities with multiple stations when there are thousands of cities in our nation with no Christian music. Competition always keeps you on your toes and should push you to be the best “you-you can be.” Our listeners deserve professionalism-that comes by not settling for mediocrity.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job/show?
My day always begins with my quiet time. I have to start off each day asking God to lead me and provide the words He wants me to share that our listeners need the most. I would hate to see what would happen if I went at each day on my own. I start off each day with a cup of green tea, two eggs and five strawberries along with 50 pushups and 3 one minute planks. Things just don’t “click” if I neglect these daily disciplines. Do I sound to rigid? LOL!
Where will future Christian radio talent come from?
We have noticed a decline in our local colleges and universities in their broadcasting departments. This does cause us a little alarm, as it has made our jobs of finding our talent a little more difficult. The bright side is that we don’t have to filter a lot of “egos.” God is going to continue to lead us to those who have no “experience” at all that we can train up without the bad habits that often come with years of “radio experience.” We would rather groom someone who has a heart for ministry and a servants heart than someone who “knows the business.”
Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio?
We often talk and dream about what we could do with unlimited resources. I firmly believe that our audiences would exponentially multiply if only we had the income to promote our stations more. People desire what Christian radio has (the healing, encouragement, hope)…..unfortunately…..many don’t realize it. I would love to be able to give all Christian radio stations a Million Dollars to promote their ministries for one year. Wouldn’t that be awesome!
Who are your radio heroes and influences? And Why?
In the early days of my radio career/ministry I wanted to be like Louisville radio legend Terry Meiners. He is still the afternoon host on 84 WHAS. He mastered “theater of the mind” and his radio bits and characters were so entertaining. I loved listening to him. I tried so many times to copy what he did and tweak it for my overnight Christian Music Show, until one day my very first PD (Tony Tabor)pulled me into his office and said, “Ted, you are no Terry Meiners.” Flash forward two decades-today, the radio hero that has most influenced me is Matt Stockman. I have had the blessings of past talent coaching under him. I have learned so much from him and our talent coaching sessions. I have learned relevancy, and how to connect with our listener. He reminds me that because of my“heritage” as an air talent on J103 that I have multiple generations that have grown up listening to me. What do they need most from me everyday? To be pointed to Jesus and the hope, encouragement and peace He has to offer. I spent way to many years (in radio and even student ministry) trying to build “Ted’s World.” I would much rather build “Jesus World,” it has much longer and more life-changing impact.
Another current hero is my general manager, Justin Wade, (also one of my former students-yes, I was his youth pastor, and even officiated his wedding), is such a visionary, and is constantly keeping me grounded. He gives us the freedom to serve and lead as God guides us, and yet he never settles for mediocrity or for doing things “just because we have always done it that way.” This is constantly pushing us to be the best. I count Justin as not just my “boss” but one of my best friends.
My current air staff team are also heroes. They do their best each and every day to impact the TN Valley by Shining the Light through our radio ministry and their personal lives.