10 Questions with ... Steve Turley
January 27, 2014
1 - Brief history/synopsis
I was born and raised in Fairfield California, a little south of Sacramento. My father was enlisted in the Air Force but we didn't move around too much. Headed to England at age 13-loved living there. Came to North Carolina at the start of my junior year in high school, met my amazing wife Debbie and we have had the privilege of raising our 2 kids here. Our daughter Gabrielle is a junior at a Bible college in Texas and our son is in his first year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. God has blessed us beyond what we could ever deserve, but that's how He is I guess.
2 - What was it that made you "catch the bug" for radio? When did you realize that it was what you wanted to do for a living?
I enjoyed listening to Top 40 music as a pre-teen and teenager. Then I began to really love contemporary Christian music about the time Amy Grant and Keith Green came on the scene. Been hooked ever since. My interest in radio began as I learned how it was being used on the mission field. Not convinced missions was my calling I ended up getting an associate's degree in broadcasting. After a three-year stint at a southern Gospel station I worked a few non-radio jobs and in 1997, God brought me back into radio with the music I love here at Christian 107.3!
3 - What's the most successful on-air bit/break you've ever been part of?
Not sure if it was the most successful bit, but it was fun putting it together.
A few years ago the station received a copy of the book, "The Boy That Changed The World". After reading it I started thinking of a way to share the story on the air.
Not sure why but I decided to get our staff to read the parts in the story and present it as an audio drama. A few friends from church were needed to fill some of the roles. After scouring our music bed and sound effects resources I finally laid out all the tracks and produced it. We promoted it for a day or two and aired it a couple of times. Its length (8 minutes) kept us from doing much more with it than we did, but we had a good time making it and the families who tuned in were hopefully inspired to change their world!
4 - With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep? How do you prepare?
I check out the latest news, both national and local, to make sure I am ready to talk about what our listener is already thinking about. I also think of a story or two about when I was a child or when our kids were younger to relate in that area as well. During my shift I will peruse facebook and maybe youtube to see what is trending there. Just try to relate with the audience where they are.
5 - What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
For me it is related to the previous question. With older kids it is a challenge sometimes to relate with younger families. Remembering the emotions both the parents and children are experiencing. That and not falling back on the things that have become crutches for me like our station live-read cards or weather updates. I've got to work at keeping it fresh everyday.
6 - Who are 3 people that you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
I really should listen to more online streaming to glean from the great talent we have in our format across the country.
Whether it's knowledge about selecting music, focusing on the listener or just about anything regarding Christian radio, Steve Swanson is someone I've always looked up to. He is so encouraging and loves drawing people to a loving God!
I haven't been in contact with him lately but several years ago Tom Atema, when he was at WMIT, did an incredible job helping guide them through some real changes. Will never forget his message at GMA about getting the right people on the bus, in the right seats and moving the bus in the right direction.
Finally I need to include our station's owner, George Wilson. He started this station after his first wife died of cancer. They raised their kids with Christian music in their home and as that was no longer available, they felt he should invest in a station that could minister to families. That has been and continues to be the motivating force behind what we do - to provide love, encouragement and sometimes a listening ear to moms and dads and their kids right where we live.
7 - What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
Compelling content, in my opinion, is still the most effective way we can keep our listeners lingering as long as possible and coming back to us as frequently as they can. Having the right songs in the best rotation, excellent imaging, meaningful promotions, social media interaction, are all vital. But when someone knows they have a friend who knows where they are, will make them laugh, and who can connect with them emotionally; that person will seek you out every chance they get. They will even ask what kind of antenna they need to buy so the radio in their house can pick up your station more clearly. Not to mention great word-of-mouth marketing. Valerie Geller deserves credit for much of this response.
8 - Most successful station promotion ever?
I guess our most recent promotion was one of our most successful. This past Christmas we started something we hope to continue at least a couple times a year - our Season of Giving. Instead of offering listeners a chance to win something for themselves we invited them to join us in giving to someone else.
First we partnered with a senior care facility. They gave us a list of items each resident hoped to get for Christmas. We posted each of the 'wish lists' on our Season of Giving poster and secured a few businesses to use as drop-off locations.
Through live and recorded announcements we encouraged families to stop by the nearest participating business, select one or more of the wish lists and purchase at least one item on the list. They would then wrap the gift(s) and return them to the business. Naturally we provided a nicely decorated bin and emptied it as needed. Any family who couldn't get to one of our pick-up/drop-off points was invited to send gift cards.
The response was fantastic! Each resident received some or all of what they asked for including the gentleman who requested a remote-control car! One family offered to help with the distribution which was an unforgettable moment for their children for sure. The residents were showered with love, the staff was overwhelmed and everyone was reminded of the joy of giving! We can't wait to do this one again!
9 - How do you combat the iPod/satellite/online option listeners have today? What are the steps to compete?
If the content we add between the songs is relevant and engaging, we can win. If it's only about the music there are so many options available. A live human, offering words of hope and encouragement, narrows the choices a bit.
Then, being local in every sense of the term is the advantage we have over a national network or show. When we interact with listeners at local events, wish them happy birthday on the air, in addition to providing local weather and event promotions, we become 'their' station.
10 - Radio 101....in 101 words or less, how would you guide/instruct/advise a radio programmer/air talent who wants to get better at their craft?
For air talent, it is so important to really know your audience. Not just the well-researched listener profile, but actual members of your audience. Interact on facebook, on the phone, at events, everywhere you can.
Keep a journal of things you see going on around you - anything that would make a great story to share with your friends (listeners) who listen to you on the radio. Practice telling each story with a few people so you have perfected it when you share it with a multitude over the air.
For programmers, we have to make sure we stay a safe distance from any rut. I've been reading Andy Stanley's latest book, "Deep & Wide" which is written primarily to church leaders. In it he stresses more than once how important it is to constantly review everything we're doing and make sure it is still the most effective way of getting the job done. Often our reason for doing something, whether on-air or in song selection or imaging placement, is because it worked great sometime in our past. We have to be willing to put everything on the table - old and new - and only keep what works best now, today.
Favorite cereal, favorite cartoon character and favorite fast food choice?
I LOVE cereal...2 bowls pretty much every morning! Lately Cheerios (with a little sugar) then Quaker 100% Natural (without raisons) is preferred.
Always loved Foghorn Leghorn's dry - I say dry - humor.
Hands down, for flavor and value, Taco Bell gets my vote.
You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
If it is the last break, first I would allow myself to go longer than most consultants would typically recommend. Our identifying statement is, 'keeping the main thing, the main thing' so my last break would be used to explain in detail what that means.
Jesus is who it's all about. Life is nothing without Him and everything with Him. If I had the privilege of voicing one final break it would be this; to know God and to make Him known is not just the main thing - it's the only thing.