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Ty McFarland Interview

Ty McFarland
Director Of Programming & Content
KCSM – Spirit 105.3
Seattle

 

Career Capsule: The high school kid in me still can’t believe that I get to do this. 32 years this year. The list of call letters is getting long, so I’m just grateful. What an honor to work with the people I’ve worked with.  

 

Ty, tell us what’s new at KCMS and KWPZ… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?

Stations are doing well and CRISTA Media is hard at work and looking to the future. We’re most excited about growing our new podcast network, Purposely (link: www.onpurposely.com).

 

Overall, what is the best programming advice you’ve been given? The worst?

Best – I like I Corinthians 13 – love is the most important thing. Let’s love people like Jesus did, through our work – otherwise what’s the point? Combine that with kind of an intense, 1 Corinthians 9 mindset of doing whatever it takes, within the gospel, to reach other people.

Worst? I don’t know. Probably anything that starts with “always” or “never”.

 

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

I think we found out that we really love our listeners and that they really love us.

 

What are your thoughts on podcasting, should all Christian broadcasters have a podcast?

If you care about reaching more people for Jesus, using audio, then very likely yes, you should strongly consider having a podcast.

That aging demo problem that we all have, isn’t just about getting younger people to listen to our stations. It’s not just about people aging out of a medium. It’s also about being everywhere that people are. None of us are giving up on younger listeners to radio, and radio is definitely not dead … people have been writing radio’s obituary, literally my entire career … but also, good luck to us attempting to make a group of people use a medium that they don’t want to use/don’t use. If a large group of people we want to reach just aren’t using radio, or are using it less, then we should find out where they went, and why they went. Then we should consider going there too. Let’s look closely at radio’s strengths and weaknesses and ask why some potential listeners aren’t listening. Yes to radio, and yes to new and developing forms of media. The Church always says yes to new ways of reaching people with the gospel.

Radio is the community that comes from the shared experience of “right now” – which likely means LIVE. Radio is about hearing a community talk to itself, in real time, through something we’re all listening to, right now. It’s quick and responsive, it serves its community, it’s entertainment and companionship through the ear—through audio. It’s real people, not voice avatars or AI. It’s incredibly easy to use, and simple. It doesn’t require people to share information or feed data into an algorithm, it just works pretty well for everybody, all at the same time. It’s human, and social and community—a shared togetherness.  

Radio is immensely impactful and we should keep doing it. And, are there are new forms of media that also share some of those same characteristics? Yes? Good! Those are things we should also be involved in.

 

Generally speaking to the industry what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian air talent?

Most air talent are hard-working, creative, smart, people. So why are results not always what they should be? A lot of their performance depends on our performance. They need the best leadership that we can give them. Christian leaders should be humble, and hold some fire. Spiritually dependent on the Lord. Able to hold high standards, in love. Sacrificial.  etc. So much good can be done, under solid leadership. So much time and effort is wasted working under poor leadership. Leadership is all about doing the hard work that’s needed, to put in place the conditions necessary for good people to do their best work.  

 

You love connecting your station with the community you serve. What is “Catch The Spirit” and why does it connect? 

“Catch The Spirit” is a big part of KCMS’s strategy to connect with our listeners. KLTY’s “Speak Love”, FISH OC’s “Speak Joy”, “Acts of Love” and “Christmas Wish” from FISH Atlanta and many others … these are all movements that matter. Loving people, serving people, and celebrating what’s good, are biblical ideas, and they’re good strategy.

 

Seattle is known for its dreary, rainy days. Why do you prioritize tempo and brightness on your playlist in the Pacific Northwest? 

Isn’t it interesting how much music is used by all of us for mood? I either want something to help me feel a certain way, or I already feel a certain way, and I want something to help me through that feeling, or I want to extend that feeling, etc.

We bias as much as we can toward tempo and energy, overall, because we have some things working against us in Seattle and Vancouver, BC. The days in winter are short, and dark. The spiritual climate of our cities is also dark. My pastor said the other day that “the Space Needle used to define our city, and now, it’s other kinds of needles” – ouch!

If the joy of the Lord is our strength, it would be the right thing for us to find ways of putting that on the air. A little bit of brightness, joy, tempo, energy, and optimism, is a good start.

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