10 Questions with ... Rob Wagman
July 21, 2014
1. Brief Career History
APD/MD WNOW NYC, PD WIBT Charlotte, On Air KYSR LA, All Access Record Sales Manager, PD WEZB New Orleans, PD WFBC Greenville SC, APD MD 93Q Syracuse, Marketing Director WFLZ Tampa, Nights 102.7 WEQX Albany NY, Promotions WWKX Providence This is a list of stations and positions from 1990 to 2012 in reverse order. I found Jesus in 1991, but actually, he found me.
2. What is the difference between being a personality in Christian radio and being a personality in Top 40, Hot AC, Rock or the other secular formats you have worked in?
At the base level, every format has a similar strategy that jocks should follow. That is to relate to the core audience. The difference format to format is not the person on the air, but the audience you are targeting, and in that recipe, it is the job of on air talents, myself included, to find the common denominators between the person listening and ourselves. Once we identify that, you could literally take the same topic used on a pop station, and find an angle that would work for the Christian format.
3. What is your strategy for delivering content on-air?
Nothing is off limits. My strategy is not to confine myself by judgments, such as Kim and Kanye, or Justin Bieber, and immediately dismiss that as something that wouldn't fit our format. When Bieber was being loud and destructive in his neighborhood, it would be easy to think "all things Bieber" doesn't relate in a Christian arena, but what person hasn't had a problem with a neighbor or been THAT problem?
I also believe that in content, by our opinions, we allow the audience to get to know us better, and when they know us, and on top of that, begin to like us because of our stance or opinions, then we build a better platform for returning customers.
4. Has that strategy shown fruit at KFSH?
I wrote a recent article for All Access, about my time at WFLZ in the late 80's, early 90's where I refer to things I learned that I still use to this day. One of them, was a takeaway that Bubba The Love Sponge taught me, and that is to find a way to get them to know you immediately.
The sanctity of marriage is a big topic within the lifestyle of our format, not often talked about on air in Christian Contemporary music formats, but a headline in the magazines we might read, online blogs, and in our churches, etc...
So, when I landed on the air at KFSH, I had just asked my bride, Sarah Lee, to marry me, and because of the sanctity of that union in our format, I kept the audience informed in ALL THINGS from how I proposed to wedding plans to my mother not coming to my wedding, to having too many people in the chapel, to having our dogs in the wedding ceremony, and with each bit of info, the audience would respond with the stories they had during that time in their lives.
It branded me as "That Guy Who Just Got Married," to the audience, and yes, it did show fruit, as we had all expected the ratings to get worse before they got better, because CHANGE will do that, but it didn't, we saw increases immediately, and since then have humbly posted the highest numbers in PM Drive in the history of KFSH.
5. Has it been difficult to shed your programming skin to become just an air personality?
Honestly, it has been the most amazing break in my career and at the right time. With the marriage and a baby on the way, I am so thankful to God for reducing the hours and the workload I had been accustomed to since the early 90's and allowing me to hyper focus on a 4 hour airshift each day with two additional hours of prep time. The morning hours I get with my wife and our dogs is Quality Time, which happens to be my wife's Love Language.
In this time, I have built a side business consultancy, Straight Path Media + Entertainment, (He Will Make Your Path Straight), working directly with GM's, Programmers and Air Talent, and even with the growing client base, my wife and I continue to manage our QT.
6. Using your programming eyes, do you see obvious areas of growth for the Christian format as a whole?
I do, but I also see our format figuring these things out rather quickly. Speaking to an audience like they're a 4 year old, or as if we are so blessed that we have no problems in our lives is the greatest error for on-air talent in our format, and comes from the pulpit where pastors often take this same position.
NEWSFLASH: He is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life, and acting like it is all good, when it is not, is a LIE! To quote my wife, "THE DEVIL IS A LIAR." Let's be transparent and full of truth, even if it reveals icky parts of ourselves. It's the revelation of these TRUTHS in our lives that contains power to help people heal, in the same areas of their own lives.
7. Has your recent marriage changed your outlook on life and on our industry?
I married a woman who is ten times the talent and programmer that I am, and she had made attempts many years ago for us to be a couple, and I denied her, because we worked together. My greatest time in my life is RIGHT NOW, so had I known she would complete me the way she has, I would build a time machine, get back to 2005, when she first showed interest, kiss her madly, and not allow the Industry to delay what we have.
8. With your first baby on the way, would you encourage him to get into radio?
If Owen Bear Wagman gets into radio, my wife and I will have to admit that we've failed as parents.
9. You have been bold in your faith long before getting into Christian radio. Has being in this format allowed you some extra freedoms in your faith?
A geeky kid in high school isn't just a geeky kid. He's merely someone who hasn't discovered Comic Con yet. It's similar with me, except that my Super Hero, since 1991, isn't made up
10. Are you in Christian radio for the long haul?
Imagine you come upon fertile lands, but you see that very few have yet to plant prosperous crops there. This is how I feel, now being in this format. However, I have to honestly state that I will go where the good Lord wills, and have since 1991.
Which artist at our format do you relate to the most?
10th Avenue North: I love every song they do. Can't get enough.