10 Questions with ... Chris Lemke
January 20, 2014
1. Brief career synopsis... hometown, schools, jobs, etc
I grew up in a small town (pop 586) until going to college at Cornerstone University where I started at WCSG as a volunteer. I was hired full time after graduation in 1984. Over the three decades, I served on-air in both drives, as PD and GM and now as Executive Director of all our radio ministries including WCSG, WAYG and Mission Network News.
I've been privileged to serve on various committees for CMB and NRB and for the past decade, I've had the pleasure to work with RadioShine in Prescott AZ and served on its board from 2005-2009. And for the last three years, I've been honored to serve on CMB's Board of Directors, becoming its Chairman and Executive Director in September of 2011.
2. What got you started down the path in music/radio?
I've always had a love for radio since junior high. To choose it as a career came when I knew I'd never make the curve as a "starving artist" playing block parties and bars. Affirming the call to "Christian" radio came thanks to the guidance and encouragement of a lot of good people, with special props to Lee Geysbeek, with whom I had the joy of working alongside for more than 25 years.
3. What made you realize that this was going to be a career?
Seriously? God... And His relentless pursuit and tireless but gracious prodding to keep my direction sure and my heart compelled. Him, by far.... and the affirmation and entrusted confidence by so many friends and colleagues. Any good or success from any of my work is the result of a shared belief and commitment to Christ.
4. How did you become involved with CMB?
I had served off and on in the days of NCRS. The passion to make an industry-wide positive difference fanned the desire to become more involved. In the Spring of 2011 CMB was presented with unique challenges and opportunities to go deeper. At the time, not stepping up was not an option, not because of the challenges but because of the overwhelming drive to "seize the day" for excellence, influence and unity within Christian music broadcasting.
5. What are three of the ways that CMB is helping radio to grow & thrive?
CMB's mission is to encourage, engage and equip its members for excellence and Christ-centered influence, second to none. It does so through inspiring, educating and building community with like-minded people in our vocation. Over the past 18 months, CMB has helped radio grow and thrive via improved experience and service at Momentum, the addition of regional summits and monthly teleconferences, and the acquisition of ProgramDirector.net. Through these means and more to come, offered from a team of people with a heart for service, CMB is re-energizing the belief and commitment that working together for the greater Good is the best evidence of Christ and His ability to transform lives to become all we were created to become.
6. Who are five of the young "bright stars" on the way up in the Christian radio industry & why?
I'm rather biased, but you asked. They're all aged 24-33 and they're all on our team in Grand Rapids - John Balyo (WCSG mornings), Amanda Hildabrand (WCSG PD/mornings), Brittany Carlson (WCSG Middays), Melissa Kersjes (WCSG Web & Social Media Content/Promotions Asst) and Tom Neering (WCSG Evenings/Production Asst). They're not only really good at what they do professionally, but they all really "get-it" and do it when it comes to what Love Does (with props to Bob Goff). We're thrilled to have them all.
7. In your opinion, what's the greatest challenge facing radio in the next 10 years?
Compelling content delivered on personalized platforms to bring about a real relationship with the end user. That's true regardless of the format, but specifically for Christ-followers, I believe our challenge is even greater; that is, to reach more listeners yes AND to unite people of Faith to resource these initiatives in the face of growing opposition and resistance from those who may well reject the life-changing we hope to deliver. We must work together
8. Who are three people that you look to as mentors, and why?
I look to a lot of people for guidance; I so need it. The three I've spent the most time with over the past 4-5 years are Ed Wittenbach - Ed is a father to me, and happens to be a very successful apple grower. There's a lot you can learn about life in growing fruit (see John 15). He's wise, humble, gracious and affirming. Jim Carlson. He's a former executive pastor at a well-attended church here in Grand Rapids. His wisdom, his ability to see the best in people and coach others to do the same is phenomenal. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my long-time colleague and friend, Lee Geysbeek. There aren't enough words to describe how much positive influence God has had in my life through Lee's model of living with and loving on people.
9. Last book you read?
You mean besides Green Eggs & Ham from Dr Seuss? I haven't finished, but I'm reading a collection of letters and writings of Robert E Lee, and earlier this year I finished Eat Mor Chikin by Truett Cathy. The man's convictions for quality, consistency, customer service and Christ are profound
10. What advice would you give someone just starting out in a radio/music career?
Stretch. Take initiative. Be bold. Be sincere. Be Christ-like in communicating. Dare to dream. Dare to listen. Dare to execute. Dare to fail. Dare to try again. Commit. Endure. Refresh. And do it again.
1. All-time favorite movie?
It's not necessarily a blockbuster, but I really like it, probably because of its chief premise which is so (sadly) fitting for media - perception is reality... The movie is Sneakers with a great all-star cast led by Robert Redford.