10 Questions with ... Mike Weston
May 16, 2016
Born and raised in the Boston area. Graduated Braintree High School in...well, a long time ago :). Let's just say it was long before smart phones, GPS in our cars and the internet. My wife Donna and I have been married for over 30 years and we have three grown sons, Mark, Ryan and Jonny. And two cocker spaniels, George & Gracie (if you are at least 50, you know why that's funny)
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 was in middle school and we had a field trip to WRKO in Boston. Big famous radio station. I sat there and watched Dale Dorman, a big time Boston DJ talk on the radio, play records and talk to listeners. I thought... "whoa, this is what I've GOT to do that for a job!"
3. Give us the overview of your station/network. What are its core values, mission statement....and what is the greatest obstacle?
The station is owned by Liberty University, and consists of 8 full power stations in Virginia and eastern North Carolina, plus 12 translators, most of which are digital strategy fill-ins. We are in Central and Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads and The Outer Banks. In December of 2014, the station flipped from 70% talk/teaching to all Adult Contemporary Christian Music-The Journey.
Our Core Values are not complicated: Passion, Excellence, Relationships and Integrity. Our Mission: We will use available technology to communicate the present and future hope of The Gospel of Christ in culturally relevant ways. We want to encourage listeners to follow Jesus Christ closely and to hopefully do so in a transparent and genuine manner. Hopefully we also model that to one another as a team.
In the words of our GM, "every obstacle presents new opportunities." This approach to problem solving has brought us some wonderfully creative solutions. Launching a fresh format on a legacy station certainly has presented a lot of opportunities! We now have team in place, and as we start our second year as the Journey, I can't wait to see what's next!
4. With the advent of "instant everything"..... How do you compete with what the potential listener has available to them?
So, I think the biggest challenge then, and I know it sounds like a cliché: Be relevant and engaging in everything we do. From the songs we play to how our talent communicates; the writing and producing of imaging; how we engage on social media... and on it goes. The pace of change today is unprecedented. We can't afford to be comfortable or complacent. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.
5. What would you categorize as your greatest personal challenge in radio? What are you doing to overcome that?
Trying to strategic about how I spend my time. Trying to have the wisdom to always be seeing the big picture and not being ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. I have a great staff around me and they help me to always come back to what is most important for the long term.
6. Who are 3 people that you look/have looked to as mentors/leaders? What is/was it that draws/drew you to them?
Jon Hull with KSBJ. Barry Armstrong, our GM, and Jack Taddeo, who is a GM and a long-time friend in the industry. These guys! Wise, intelligent and remarkably creative. I have learned (and continue to learn) from them and appreciate the time and experience they have poured in to me.
7. What do you believe is the single greatest factor in building audience share/cume? Why do you believe it's that important?
It's difficult to choose just one thing so to answer your question, I've just made up a new word "engagementicity". Meaning, real people engaging with real people. This drives our conversation every day at The Journey.
8. Most successful station promotion ever?
The Journey is still very young, less than a year old, so we're just getting started :). But I will say that we're getting some great early response on our new morning show, The Morning Journey with Kenny & Leigh. Kenny brings over 25 years of morning experience to the table and his new co-host, Leigh Detzel is brand new to radio! This is so much fun for me as a PD. We are really excited about the future. Also, our high level holiday partnerships with Operation Christmas Child and Operation Thank You have been very rewarding for our staff and our listeners.
9. What's the last book you read?
Brant Hanson's book "Unoffendable". Brant does our night show with Sherri Lynn. I really enjoyed Brant's take on how we can spend so much time and energy trying to "make the wrong right", usually as it concerns our personal feelings and expectations. I like his idea that we could devote all that time and energy to actually living our lives in the moment. We can all just try to breathe a big sigh of relief and stop being the general managers of the universe.
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?
Be an excellent observer of all that goes on around you. Listen to what people are saying, listen to what they are NOT saying. Hear their hopes, dreams, fears, and joys. Have a significant life outside of the industry and your work, so you have something to talk about when you are on the radio. Read as much as possible and be aware of what is going on in the culture around you. And find mentors who can speak in to your life, your career and craft. Listen to them and learn from them. Find someone YOU can mentor and speak into their lives.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air?
It's an oft-told story I suspect. Playing a syndicated program 'in the wrong order'. This was back in the dark ages when we were playing Dick Clark's Rock Roll & Remember on record album ( a large black vinyl disc). I was supposed to play Album one, side A, then play side B. I got it wrong. Yes, I'M the guy who played Dick Clark in the wrong sequence. You get the idea. I was in my early 20's and attention to detail was not my forte, at least not until the PD called the Hotline.
2. If you were King for a day, and could "fix" three things in radio land....what would they. be, and why?
1: Purely in the interest of driver safety, I'd make it law that every new car sold has only one radio station available (ours of course) so that drivers don't have to be thinking about changing/finding radio stations while they drive, B: And while we're making laws, while you are at work, you can't use your computer to stream any radio stations or other music services, you have to use a physical radio with an aluminum wire, if necessary, to listen to a local station and finally, 3: As part of any employment, you have to fill out a Nielsen diary every Friday :).
But seriously folks...
I would just say that, with all the research tools we have developed and what we have learned, let's not forget why we got into this thing. To have fun, to create magic, to be adventurous, and to not be afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. And when I transitioned in to Christian radio, it just all made sense.
3. You've got one last live break on air....and then the radio will go silent. What do you say, and why?
Love God and love people, to the best of your ability. Keep the long view in mind. Cherish your family. Create memories. Mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Leave behind the legacy that only you can leave. Learn from the past, embrace the future, but live in the moment.