Member Spotlight – John Scaggs

What is your favorite song?
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. However, I like this song so much, it is my ringtone year-round. We know the modern Casting Crowns version but it is adapted from an 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It grew out of a series of tragedies Longfellow faced. The song tells of the narrator’s despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men”. The song concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among men. For more background on how the song captures the dynamic and dissonance in Longfellow’s heart and the world he observes around him, click here.  Longfellow ends with this hope:

Then rang the bells more loud and deep

God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth)

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

What is the last book you’ve read?
As I moved to Colorado Springs, I had to wrap-up an Adjunct Professorship I really loved teaching at Dallas Baptist University. It is hard because I loved doing it and along with the CEO of Austin Industries, Dr. David Walls, we developed the curricula. In preparation for the class, I re-read Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley. The book had a lasting impact on the 27 students gaining a master’s degree. In the book, Andy brings to life how he reprises, and creatively reminds himself, his team and his congregation of the vision of North Point church.

What led you to a career in radio?
Meeting and having the legend Mark Rider briefly as my first youth pastor. In the late 70s, Mark moved to the Detroit area. I got to know him as a young teen (16) that just heard the gospel and stated following Jesus. Mark has gone to heaven early. If you knew Mark, you know he was profoundly flawed. At the same time, he had amazing talent and wanted to see Jesus change lives in a real way.

What advice would you give people new to the business?
Don’t forget your first love (Jesus). Life is an open-book test. Ask lots of questions. Find advisors you can trust. Work to cultivate humility. It does not come naturally. Start reading regularly. Apply what you read. Work to give and not just get. Guard against the pervasive cynicism of our age. Proactively work to be grateful.

Give a shoutout to someone who is making a difference in radio and what are they doing to make an impact?
Early in the CMB pre-curser, NCRS, I met a larger than life character, Joe Battaglia. There is an old joke about Joe being in Rome and standing on a balcony next to a guy with a pointed hat. You ask someone in the throng who is on the balcony in St. Peter’s Square and the guy says, “I don’t know the one in the hat, but the other one is Joe Battaglia”. I’ve yet to find a news maker in our circles that Joe does not know. Joe serves on the WAY Media Board and thru that context, I’ve gotten to know him well, hanging out together in NYC, etc. Joe dreams and then does. He keeps adding to his list, radio station owner, accomplished multi-book author, great dad, serial entrepreneur of both profit and non-profit companies, agency founder, executive producer, etc. As impressive as that is, I’ve also gotten to see a tender side of Joe.  For years, Joe has made his wife’s health and care a priority. Luann is battling Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Joe has a blog entry on the topic here about Freedom in Limitations. In Acts 2:17, the Scriptures say in the last days, “old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” – Joe has been on both sides of the age spectrum of that verse and keeps on doing kingdom work.

How do you refresh your creative energy at work?
After moving from Dallas to Colorado Springs, that has become easy, look outside or go on a hike.

Amazon Echo or Google Home?
Amazon Echo, for now. The team and I have just worked-thru our inaugural round of Alexa Skills that are now in-place.  We now have WAY-FM,WAY NEW and WAY LOUD in the skills store with more coming. In 2018, we will also start working on Google Home as a platform too. I was watching developments from CES and we will have a few more leading smart speaker choices before the year is over.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Interacting with listeners and donors. Whether it is reading a note or meeting them at a concert or some other function. To hear the story of what a difference WAY-FM makes as Jesus uses us is exhilarating.

Who is your favorite air personality not on your staff and why do you like them?
As a kid growing up in a home that did not proclaim Jesus in Detroit, I found myself in my tumultuous teen years listening to “Powerline, with Brother Jon Rivers” on WNIC-FM. I am so grateful for the simple presentation of the gospel and John’s weekly encouragement. The Lord used that to help me understand I could become a Jesus follower, even if the rest of my friends and family were not on the same page.

What was your last non-industry job?
For the past 20-years, I have been in sales for software and hardware manufactures focused on the broadcast industry starting in radio, moving to TV and eventually following the changing habits of viewers on the mobile streaming side. My last job was with at a sales role to fortune 100 broadcast companies like Turner, Discovery, NBC Universal, etc.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
Ending-up serving on-staff for WAY-FM. I was shocked in 1998 when Bob Augsburg (one of my living heroes) called me and asked if I’d consider serving on the WAY Media board. I spent 20-minutes ensuring he got the right guy named John.  Without thinking about it, I ended up logging 18-years of board volunteer work. The time few by. It helps so much in my day-to-day job to have the institutional memory and know the context of so much from the policy and historical side of the equation.

Teach me something I don’t know in the next five minutes.
Many people with an iPhone (and that’s a lot of people) have the wrong idea about closing apps. And once you know why, it might change the way that you use your iPhone completely. You can read about it many places, here is one.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
In the words of Bryce Harper, “That’s a clown question, bro” but I will give an answer — I would be the multi-colored tulip fabric pack. For years as a Jesus follower, I was trying to earn His approval by my good works – kind of like the game I have seen played whereby you take the petals off the daisy saying (another crayon color), “he loves me, he loves me not”. Through the biblical teachings of men like Steve Brown, Craig Cabaniss, John Piper, Kevin De Young, RC Sproul, Charles Spurgeon, C. J. Mahaney, etc. I’ve learned he loves me and that is a settled issue without conditions. He loves me, I don’t know why. Grace is amazing! At times, I still forget this bedrock truth; but know I know I am a tulip.

John Scaggs
WAY-FM – President & Chief Executive Officer
CMB Member Since 2017