10 Questions with ... Bill Scott
June 9, 2014
1. Brief History / Synopsis
I've been in radio since I was 17 years old. I had the chance to work at a few stations in Rogers City MI, Lynchburg VA, Green Bay WI and a short three week stay at a small station in Crystal River FL before getting my first real break in radio. In 1983 Jon Hull hired a desperate young man to work at WCIE in Lakeland FL. At the time WCIE was one of the top radio stations in the country. I spent six great years working at WCIE. My next stop was The JOY FM in Sarasota where I worked doing mornings and became the Program Director. From there I went to join Bob Augsburg and the team at WAY FM as Station Manager in Fort Myers FL. I always loved doing youth ministry, at every station I worked at, I always did a youth show. In 1995 I left WAY FM to join Dawson McAllister in order to do full-time youth ministry. From there I began ZJAM Youth Ministries and launched a Saturday night show for students that aired on 300 outlets for over a decade. I am blessed to have hosted about six different syndicated programs. During this time I also worked with Share Media Services as a fundraising consultant. For 22 years I have been working along side radio stations, helping them with their on-air fundraising. I have visited about 100 stations and hosted nearly 600 events over the last two decades. The vast majority of my time is spent being contracted out by Share Media and helping radio stations raise their budgets through fundraising. I love to come along side stations helping them realize what it takes throughout the year in order to see their budget hit during their fundraising event.
2. What was your very first radio job? When did you realize that it was what you wanted to do for a living?
My dad knew the owner of WHAK in Rogers City Michigan and some how convinced him that he needed me to work there. I had never thought about working for a radio station. I was hired to run the baseball games. I inserted the commercials. I knew from my first day that radio was what I wanted to do. The bug bit me and I haven't been able to shake it over the last 30 years. There must be a 12 step program for this, right?
3. What's the most successful on-air fundraising experience you've ever been part of?
Wow, that's a tough one. I've done 600 events and I have seen some amazing fundraisers where God did some great things. At WPER 18 months ago I was a part of something very special. The event was to go three full days and a morning drive. We were blessed to hit the goal at the end of the third day, that was what we had hoped for. This left us morning drive for a special project. Frankie shared that they had signed papers the day before on a new building. The goal was to raise money toward the down payment. I remember thinking, wow, how do you raise $100,000 in three hours? You cannot do it with $100 gifts or those giving $20 a month. I pulled Frankie aside and said, "Hey, you are remodeling this building right? If so, can you do your lobby with brick walls and have peoples name on the bricks if they make a $1,000 donation?" Frankie said yes they could do that and lets roll. Long story short, the phones were jammed for three hours with people making $1,000 gifts so their families name could be on the Legacy Wall in the new building. I believe we raised $175,000 in three hours. We have done this three times during the morning drive after hitting the goal. Frankie called me about a week ago to tell me 385 bricks were pledged for with a $1,000 plus gift and that over $250,000 has already come in. I do have to throw in something that happened two weeks ago at WGTS in Washington DC. I did an Hour of Faith. One hour where we encourage friends who really feel they are suppose to give but just are to tight to do so, to give by faith but only if they feel God is really leading them to step out. I share with the audience that if you don't feel this is for you, it's ok. The hour includes stories of faith, teaching and encouragement. I asked for 100 friends to step out with a $1,000 one-time gift. We were all amazed when 140 people called with $1,000 gift, one friend at $20,000 and one at $5,000. We all took a step back when we realized 22% of the goal was hit in just over an hour. That is God moving big time!
4. With the advent of "instant everything".....what do you do to show prep? How do you prepare?
My show prep is used for fundraising, however until recently I have been doing voice tracking for stations as well. I have used Beth Bacall's prep service for the air shifts but when it comes to fundraising I am prepared as well. For fundraising it's important to have stories that connect with the listeners. We'll have stories picked out before the event but with Facebook and Twitter, we are able to get new and fresh stories during the event itself. So as I begin an hour of fundraising, I know where I am going, what the focus is going to be, the stories that will be used to make the connection and how to coach the air talent that's on with me to make the hour compelling and successful. If you touch the heart of the listener and really connect, the donations will follow...EVERY TIME.
5. Tell us about your consulting service. How can folks check it out?
When it comes to fundraising, I am contracted through Share Media. There's no one better for fundraising. I love working with stations through the Bill Scott Group to help them realize the awesome things they can be doing throughout the year and how it will impact their finances. In order to have a great fundraising event, you have to be planting seeds for the harvest. I've seen some stations not plant anything during the year and end up surprised that they have a bad fundraiser. Other stations have planted the wrong seeds. I love to share what seeds need to be planted and coach them through to a wonderful fundraiser. One of my passions is to see stations connect with their audience at a new level. This is an art that has been lost. If there isn't the right on air connection, it will cost you money when it comes to your event. At the end of the day the Bill Scott Group is about 1.) Team building, 2.) On air coaching, 3.) Programming that has great fundraising results, 4.) Making sure the radio station has a brand that their listeners can understand, 5.) Helping Christian media and talent remain relevant to a changing culture, and 6.) Learning to become a content provider and not just a radio station. I am currently working with a large station to help them deal with management and the board on their wage scale for their staff, it's a very interesting project. Very few individuals have been to 100 stations and hosted 600 events. This gives me the insight to what is working and whats not. There is something about boots on the ground and being part of that radio stations team. The Bill Scott Group is not for those who want to do the same ole, same ole. I think we are the folks to come along side of you if your looking for a fresh approach to radio ministry. A couple of ways you can connect with me, BillScottGroup.com, bill@BillScottGroup.com or my office number 615-525-5570.
6. What would you categorize as the greatest personal challenge in fundraising? How do you advise overcoming that?
There are many that seem to be a challenge but if I were to pick just one, it would be those who hate to ask for money. Some announcers feel bad asking for money and see it as the necessary evil in order keep the station on the air. With that kind of mind set, you have already lost the battle. The good news is that can be fixed if you can just teach the staff the principles of giving and how that applies to the station and their listeners. I think it's just an education process. If you are hesitant to ask for money, your listeners will be hesitant to give. At the end of the day, your fundraiser can really minister to your listeners if done correctly.
7. Who are 3 people that you look to as mentors/leaders? What is it about them that grabs & keeps your attention?
- Todd Isberner from Share Media. Todd is always pushing me to be a better fundraiser and coach. I love the fact that Todd always pushes me to do better ministry during on-air events. Todd is always doing the latest research on fundraising and that just keeps my attention.
- David Smallbone would be the second. David is not a peer in radio but a good friend. He is a mentor in my life who always encourages me to be available to radio stations in order to encourage them, especially while on site. David helps me keep it real with the Lord and my family as well.
- Dave Kirby is someone who I believe is doing great things in radio. He's very creative, keeps up with how radio is changing and always challenges me to be better at what I do. Dave and I have been working together for the last 30 years, something that is a real blessing. I really appreciate Dave's creativity.
8. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience for non-com radio? Why do you believe it's that important, and how do you grade success?
Connection! I know many stations have hired outside help to grow their cume but in most cases that hasn't ended with an increase in donations. I know of some stations that have tripled their cume, spent a lot of resources doing so and yet haven't seen an increase in their fundraisers. I have said this before, I'd rather have a smaller cume and raise more money. I think your event is the temperature gage for how healthy your station really is. We need to look at how to connect deeper with our listeners, how to be more apart of their lifestyle and what it takes to really touch their heart. That might seem too simplistic for some but it works. I just saw one station who decided to leave the tools of their consultant behind, tools designed for commercial radio, implemented what I was just talking about and saw a 47% increase in their fundraiser just 8 months later. Their cume went down some, TSL up and their fundraiser through the roof. Your listeners are looking for hope and if you can encourage them, they'll come through for you during your fundraising event.
9. What's the last book you read?
It seems I have multiple books always going at once. One of the latest that really has impacted my life would be "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson. It's about praying circles around your biggest dreams and great fears. I just loved that book. As a side note, he's a great person to have on your show.
10. Radio Fundraising 101....in 101 words or less, how would you guide/instruct/advise a radio programmer/air talent who wants to get better, specifically at fundraising?
First it's important to realize that a professional, high performance, slick sounding radio person can exist in Christian radio. However, you have to learn to be yourself, real, vulnerable and learn how to minister on the air. No one is listening to your station because they think you're a normal top 40 station in your city. Your listeners are coming to you for hope. Your station needs to become something your community is not wanting to live without. When this begins to happen at your radio station, the fundraising will become a success.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air? (editors note, put down your drink before continuing...)
How to pick just one? During a morning show, I was getting ready to come out of our local news with a fun story. While my news lady was doing the news, I was preparing. I noticed it had this written on the story, WARNING CONTENT BELOW and once I read the story it had WARNING CONTENT ABOVE. I couldn't figure out why that was on there. I read the story again and couldn't find anything bad. I wasn't reading the story out loud when I proof read it. I jumped on the air right after Barb our news lady had finished and began, "Barb, have you heard about the lady in New England that's selling horse balls." Ok, now the story was about a lady who had a horse that would kick a ball around while in the stall, so she had the idea to sell them. My news lady looked horrified, I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't until I said horse balls for the third time that I realized what I was saying. At that point I heard her scream with laughter on the air, I simply said, I am so sorry and went to a song. Trust me, it takes a long time before listeners stop talking about something like that. I have more stories but we'll just stop with one LOL. You can ask Jon Hull for another big one. I've never seen him laugh so hard.
2. Favorite cereal, favorite cartoon character and favorite fast food choice?
Oatmeal, Pinky and the Brain, pizza...I love pizza. I am pretty sure I've had pizza in 40 states and four countries.
3. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
I didn't know it was flammable! I've had some weird mishaps in radio LOL.