10 Questions with ... Kris Love
December 5, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Talk Show Producer/Errand Boy for WRJZ (Joy 620)/Knoxville, MD/On Air Personality at WLYV (Love 89)/Knoxville and WDLF (Life 88)/Knoxville, Shamrock Media Group
1. What led you to a career in the music business? Who are some of your earliest mentors who gave you a shot in the business?
Love for music was something that was just in me after becoming a Christian at 15. I was a huge nerd about it. I can't sing a note or play a lick, but I can listen to it and talk about it all day long. From freshman year of high school, I didn't know what I'd do in the music industry, but I knew I wanted to, or was being called, to do something.
Bob Bell, who has hosted the morning talk show on the Knoxville Christian Talk station, WRJZ (Joy 620) for over 18 years gave me my first shot. Bob was also my ninth grade Sunday school teacher. I respect and value his opinion and friendship. He's bounced around and done all kinds of radio and he's seen a bunch.
2. If you were just starting in the radio/music business today, and you knew what you know now, would you continue forward? Why?
Absolutely, because I honestly believe that I'm called to do what I'm doing. No, there wasn't a booming voice saying, "Go! Do music stuff." But I think my desires and talents and the stuff deep inside me line up with the needs of the world is somewhere around this music world.
3. You started with Shamrock Media Group this year. What do you like most about the job?
Talking with radio people about music, whether it is songs I'm working or just music that has moved us lately. To paraphrase the king of all record promoters, Chris Hauser, "I get to talk all day with great friends about music that I love."
4. What does Christian radio need to do to break through to a mass audience on a more consistent basis?
Lose the sacred cows. Take everything we do and ask why we do them. And if there's no other reason than "we've always done it that way," stop doing it.
Become focused. I've bought into the idea of having a clear picture of who your target is and running EVERYTHING though a filter of whether or not it mattered to her. I respect the work of John Frost and the things he taught me and have seen the results at my own station. I believe Joe Buchanan at New Life is one of the best in the industry at really knowing his target deeply.
Do Research. I was leery when we started testing our music in Knoxville, but I grew to love it. It's not the end all be all, but it's a great tool, especially to find out when she's getting tired of a song. Testing doesn't replace your gut; more times than not it enhances it.
Be real. No more cheesy Sunday school answers and platitudes. Share the struggles and the victories. It's when we talk about the ugly stuff, the hard stuff, the messy stuff, that's when people lean in and make a connection and we become more than a juke box or an iPod. Don't get me wrong, there's a balance that needs to be struck here, in talking with Brian Sumner last week we decided that "be relatable" may be a better phrase than "be real." Because being 100 percent real could end up being depressing at times or just flat out not entertaining. So I'll go with that. Be relatable.
Lose the ego. There's this weird niche celebrity thing that happens when you're on Christian radio. I struggled with it. You start seeing your identity intertwined with your station's ("I'm the guy on Love 89"). And that's all totally false stuff. And it ends up hurting you if you let it grow in you for too long. It did me.
5. What are some of the projects or artists you're working with right now?
I'm super proud of John Waller's "Yes" at #22 right now on Indicator and rising. I'm glad to be a part of it. He's my first charting song at AC! And it's the first of a TON of great songs from that record.
I'm unbelievably blessed to be working the NewWorldSon song "Learning To Be The Light" with Matt Ingle and Chris Hauser. I've loved the band from my first listen, and there are few people in the world I have more respect for than Hauser and Ingle. It's like a Double-A ball player getting to play with the major league squad!
I fell in love with Selah at Momentum. And now I'm working their new song "I Turn To You" with fellow Shamrocker Chris Laney and Curb's John Butler. Produced by Bernie Herms, it's set to finally break Selah through at AC!
And lastly, with Christmas coming I'm so excited to be the guy to bring David Ian (Dave from Superchick) "Vintage Christmas" to Christian radio. It's my favorite Christmas record of the last five years easily. We're putting the whole thing on Play MPE for radio to pick what they like from it. It's stunning. In my mind, is what Christmas music should sound like. Think the Peanuts Christmas record and Norah Jones and Michael Buble in a blender.
6. Have you had time to miss working on the radio station side? What do you miss most/least?
Sure. I had a little grief session/pity party for about a week after Love 89 and Life 88 went off the air at the end of 2010. Then, when my mission and passion for serving artists and radio came into focus, and conveniently lined up exactly with Shamrock's, I hit the ground running.
I will miss programming Christmas music the most. I loved the way our Christmas mix sounded. I even thought about trying to syndicate that mix at one point, but I just ain't got time for it.
I will miss fundraising the least. Big surprise, I know.
7. Who inspires you personally, professionally and/or spiritually?
Personally: My wife, Amanda. She's an impossibly beautiful, smart and tough person. To quote Jack Nicholson, she makes me want to be a better man.
Professionally: Chris Hauser. He's taken me under his wing and I owe him more than I can say. I am the promoter I am because of him. He's a man of integrity, honesty and kindness. I think that's why he's been the best for so long, and will continue to be.
Professionally: Chris Chicago. He's just a doer. There's no fear in that guy. He swings for the fences in everything he takes on. And he and I have very similar stories as well as hearts for radio and artists.
Spiritually: I'm a guy that's been hurt a lot by church folks, so I suppose I'd have to answer with mostly authors since I don't really know them and never will. Donald Miller, Mike Yaconelli, and Brennan Manning have all inspired me spiritually.
On second thought, there is one guy, Doug Bannister, who spiritually inspires me consistently. He was my pastor for two years in college. He left a huge mega church to pastor a small downtown Knoxville church plant called All Souls. His humbleness and honesty are things I aspire to. I still catch his sermons online.
8. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
The Lord really does take care of his own.
9. If you could have any other job outside radio or the music industry, what would it be?
Movie/TV Critic. I get almost as excited talking about those things as I do music. If you haven't seen "Friday Night Lights," it's on Netflix. It's probably the best depiction of marriage on film ever. Amanda and I watched all five seasons in like two weeks. It was that good. And if you're not watching or DVR-ing "Parenthood," you should be.
One guy that somehow finds the time to do both radio and media reviews brilliantly: Aaron Dicer at KWND/Springfield. His blog is great: www.aarondicer.com.
10. How long have you been in Knoxville? What do you like most about living there?
I've been here my whole life, 28 (almost 29) years! Favorite things: Leaves in fall, University of Tennessee football, the mountains are great, we have awesome lakes, and we have better food than anywhere in the world. And we have Dollywood, otherwise known as "what Disney World wishes it was." Yeah, I said it.