I Resign

There. I said it. And I’ll say it again. I. Resign.

Nearly 40 years after starting at WCSG, I’m turning in the keys and hanging up the headphones. Yep. Walking away and moving in a different direction; finding a new challenge. Yep…I’m, resigning; leaving on top as it were.  Yep…I’m resigning…

Ya know, rarely will you hear someone say of a colleague, “That person left too soon.” On the other hand, you’ve more likely to hear a colleague say, “That person stayed too long.” God forbid that’s me, I confess, there are days I feel like I’m bestowed “token homage” – like the grandpa hanging around trolling leftovers or the religious guy who’s asked to pray before the drunken party breaks out at a relative’s wedding. And so, I have decided that while I still love what I do, I’m walking away.

In truth, I am not resigning from WCSG, but I do wonder on occasion…when, when do I step away? I know I’m replaceable (I’m told we all are), but that still doesn’t answer the question. So, if you don’t mind, humor me as I do some self-therapy trying to answer the question of when to say when.

In no particular order, “When I leave, I will be sure to…

  • Leave with respect. Titles are given, but respect is earned. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When my day comes, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, I hope I leave well with respect from my colleagues and for my colleagues.
  • Leave with strength. I suspect it’s hard, but I suspect it’s also okay to leave when things are going really well. As much as I want to stay and keep the team and station winning, God forbid I come to a point of crash and burn and leave angry, or frustrated, or disenfranchised. When I leave, I hope it’s with strength to take on the next adventure for me, and strength for the station to do the same.
  • Leave with honesty. When my best friend and colleague, Lee Geysbeek, left after 34 years of serving at WCSG, he left knowing he led well. He also knew he was not the person to lead us forward, and so he stepped away. That takes honesty, and it takes courage. I believe in very few either/or scenarios, but this is one of those where I do: if I’m not the person to lead, I need to either a) get help or b) get out of the way.
  • Leave with clarity. For whatever reason I leave, it should be clear why I’m leaving. There are several reasons for separation: from the somewhat obvious inappropriate or unprofessional behavior to the rather ambiguous “the station is moving in a different direction.” For personal or professional reasons, why I’m leaving when I do may be a mystery to other staff, but it should not be so for me. It’s not wrong to ask, “Why?”
  • Leave with peace. I don’t know this for sure because I haven’t left, but I’m guessing the more I invest in where I am, the harder it will be to leave. My roots here are deep. When the time comes, I ought to sense what the Bible calls peace that passes understanding. It may not make sense – sometimes walking by faith doesn’t. But especially if the departure is voluntary, I should have and behave as one who has peace.
  • Leave with direction. Maybe you’ve given the same speech I’ve given to my kids – don’t leave your current job until you have another job to go to. This is not to undermine the value of faith. There are times when a departure is clear and imminent, but the destination is not. Leaving without purpose is not a good thing; moving forward with purpose is.
  • Leave with my identity intact. I am not what I do, I am who I am. That bears repeating. I am not what I do, I am who I am. I am not WCSG, I am Chris Lemke. I am not family-friendly, I am Christ-follower in process. I am not an executive director as much as I am an ambassador Jesus Christ my Savior. I am who I am not because of what I do, but because of who I am in Jesus Christ.
  • Leave with a legacy. Taking inventory of how I’ll be remembered is daunting, scary, and humbling. I want my work to be remembered well, but even more, I want to be remembered well. In my opinion, a good legacy accomplishes both by capturing the essence and evidence of who I am and what I did long after I’m gone.
  • Leave with work undone. I need to realize that better work will go on after I’m gone. As commendable as completing projects and goals is, I need to make sure there is vision and mission for the future growth of the organization and those continuing to serve after I’m gone. This leads me to one final point.
  • Leave with succession. I loved my dad for a lot of reasons, but I really loved watching him pour himself into his work as our small town’s law enforcement, fire chief, EMT, superintendent and council member. After his passing over a decade ago, the town named a street after him. He did everything in town and for the town…except groom a successor. Only a few years later, the town is literally crumbling. As much as I am allowed to contribute to the process, I will not make that same mistake.

I had lunch last week with a dear friend and mentor. When I asked,“When do you say when?” he summarized it by suggesting that when it’s time for me to step away and when it’s within my ability and choice to do so, there should be two equal voices: one voice pushing me out of where I am, and one voice simultaneously pulling me in to where I’m going – one voice pushing me away from the regular, familiar, habitual, comfortable place and the other voice at the same time pulling or drawing me into an inspiring, aspiring, challenging and hopeful place.

I’m not there yet. I’m still young(ish) and I by God’s grace, still have 15-16+ years yet to give. May God give me, and each of us, the wisdom to know when, or when not to say when it’s time to leave.

Chris Lemke
Executive Director, WCSG
chris@wcsg.org

Chris Lemke serves in leading the mission and vision for Cornerstone University’s radio ministry of WCSG, one of the most successful Christian radio stations in the country. Both Chris and CU’s broadcast ministries have received numerous top honors from the National Religious Broadcasters, Christian Music Broadcasters and Radio & Records.

He began his career in 1980 at WCSG while enrolled as a freshman of Cornerstone University. Over the years, he served as on-air host, program director and WCSG’s general manager. Outside of Grand Rapids, Chris has taught sessions at national industry conferences, written articles for industry trade publications and presently serves on the board of directors for the Christian Music Broadcasters (CMB). He served on the Board of Directors for Grand Canyon Broadcasting from 2006-2009, and continues to provide guidance and coaching for other Christian stations around the country.

In 2019, Chris was awarded CMB’s Industry Achievement Award in 2019 and WCSG was honored as the Gospel Music Association’s Contemporary Christian Music Station of the Year. Chris was awarded CMB’s Station Manager of the Year for CMB 2009 and was a final nominee for Distinguished Broadcaster of the Year from the National Religious Broadcasters in 1999.

He and his wife, Sue were married in August 1987 and are the proud parents of six children and one grandchild. They attend Bella Vista Church in Rockford where Chris serves as an elder. He enjoys traveling, cooking, gardening and long walks.

 

Related posts

As if serving one community isn’t a privilege, BOOST RADIO served six in 2021. In January, BOOST reintroduced themselves to St. Louis when they moved from a translator to a full-power signal. BOOST hit the cold streets with weekly “Sweet Stops;” the first 95 listeners to show up got free treats. BOOST team members served as the official DJs for two different Polar Plunges with the Special Olympics in February; nearly $200,000 was raised from hundreds of brave swimmers. March was when BOOST grew into Chicago! To celebrate, the station delivered deep dish pizza to listeners in St Louis and Chicago. BOOST RADIO renamed April 1 to April Fuel’s Day and had DJs pop up at random gas stations in both markets to buy gas for strangers. Spring & Summer brought BOOST to Minneapolis, Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, and Fayetteville, NC. The station brought their new friends Pop Up Parties for their backyard BBQ’s and open houses. BOOST supplied food, party favors, and custom mixes for dozens of winners nationwide. During the late summer and early fall, the station partnered with Out of the Darkness for suicide prevention walks. Across all BOOST markets, nearly 10,000 walked together. During the holidays, the station teamed up with rapper Thi’sl & the Salvation Army for the Full Ride Toy Drive. BOOST listeners filled a storage locker & U Haul full of gifts for children in need. 2021 was a year BOOST hit the streets and empowered its audience to bless others in their communities.

×

At Hope Media Group, the passion for Christ and the city of Houston shine in its efforts to mobilize the community to do good works so that more people can experience God’s love. After Hurricane Ida, generous KSBJ and NGEN listeners raised over $276,000 with God’s Pit Crew, sending 684 KSBJ Team Help Crews to Louisiana and sponsoring the distribution of 2,711 Blessing Buckets. KSBJ listeners also provided 20,000 bottles of water for fellow Houstonians after the winter freeze, and over 2,450 KSBJ and NGEN listeners participated in our annual Blood Drive with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center saving more than 7,000 lives. A ministry committed to prayer, KSBJ formed the Greater Houston Prayer Council (GHPC), unifying 48 prayer groups across the city with an interdenominational, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational focus. KSBJ was also a beacon of joy to the community serving 3,000 cups of Blue Bell ice cream last summer and handing out 4,175 Easter Crosses for listeners to display as a reminder that “He is Risen.” During the holiday season, 91.7 Vida Unida blessed 100 families with Thanksgiving meals, and KSBJ listeners fulfilled the Christmas wishes of 9,315 children under the care of Houston CPS in partnership with Be A Resource. Beyond loving their neighbor, caring KSBJ and NGEN listeners sponsored 1,233 Kenyan children through Compassion International. In a year of unforeseen challenges along with the enduring effects of COVID-19, Hope Media Group listeners served as the hands and feet of Jesus like never before.

×

KCBI shares Jesus’ love and transforming power in Dallas-Fort Worth, inviting listeners to join the station in serving the community. KCBI Outreaches blessed nearly 67,000 individuals in 2021. In February, KCBI listeners provided 25,000 bottles of water to people in DFW whose water supply had been contaminated after an unprecedented winter storm disrupted power for several days. Later that month, nearly 1,300 women gathered for KCBI’s HeartStrong Faith Conference in Dallas to worship, pray and grow. Speakers included bestselling author Margaret Feinberg, podcaster Tara-Leigh Cobble, and theologian Nika Spaulding. Through KCBI’s Summer of Service, listeners donated over 13,000 meals, along with 9,000 Bibles, to community members still struggling with the COVID pandemic. Another 350 KCBI volunteers served at local ministries on our Summer of Service Day. They assembled 1,000 Love Boxes for women facing unplanned pregnancies; prepped backpacks, sorted clothing and distributed food to those in need; and prepped nearly 2,000 shoes for kids whose parents otherwise couldn’t afford them. Thanks to listeners’ generosity, KCBI distributed more than 32,000 Bibles to Texas prisons, human trafficking ministries and humanitarian ministries in 2021. Listeners purchased sonograms for pregnancy centers, which helped save more than 5,500 babies from abortion. They provided 38,000 bottles of water, along with 500 Bibles, to victims of the devastating tornadoes that swept through Kentucky in December. And throughout 2021, listeners offered more than 21,300 prayers for requests through KCBI’s Online Prayer Center. KCBI is grateful to God for the opportunity to impact DFW and beyond with Jesus’ love and transforming power.

×

Life 102.5 has a heart for Madison! For the 4th year in a row, during Valentine’s season, Life 102.5 invited listeners to share the love of Jesus with children and families receiving care at the Children’s Hospital. Listeners generously provided 2,234 Lego kits for the children. Afternoon host Summer Shepherd interviewed Dr. Melissa Mork on her award-winning podcast, “No Seriously, How Do I Do This?” Their conversation inspired the station’s “Embrace Play” giveaway, supporting families’ mental health during the pandemic. Life 102.5 provided a week’s worth of experiences for listeners, including art classes, game nights, and more. Morning Show host Dave Conour joined Team World Vision and rang two full marathons to bring attention to World Vision’s efforts of providing clean water to children and families around the world, Dave’s many miles provided 260 families with clean water for life! Life 102.5’s 21st annual Shoebox Gifts for Kids drive collected more than 1500 Christmas boxes of school supplies, hygiene items, toys, and winter clothing for children in Dane County. It was the station’s largest year yet. Amanda Brooks, Morning Show co-host and host of the weekly program “Faith & Life Today” focused on giving voice to women’s health, family and children’s issues in Madison including, education, marriage and divorce, immigration, and social justice. Life 102.5 had a wonderful year of reaching families, through children, with the love of Jesus. That’s why in 2022, Life 102.5’s outreach goal is focused on helping the most vulnerable children and their families in Madison and Southern Wisconsin.

×

Spirit 92.9 continued its commitment of blessing the central Minnesota community through intentional service projects. As the pandemic affected another year, station listeners rose to the challenge of uplifting and encouraging those feeling loss, loneliness, or burnout. Thanks to the help of generous listeners and business partners, Spirit 92.9 raised more than $8,000 in an online tip jar that blessed the staff at 19 local restaurants returning to work full time with huge tips during the Big Tip promotion. The restaurant workers were grateful for the visibility and appreciation. Numerous area teachers nominated by their students and families received special honor at the end of the school year with flowers and $500 VISA gift cards as part of “Thank A Teacher” organized by Spirit 92.9. In the fall, Spirit 92.9 partnered with two local ministries and provided free holiday meals to the community. During the ‘More Than A Meal’ event, the station worked with community members who donated enough to provide 6,000 meals and give help to people in need. Station team members also prepared and served meals together at the local homeless mission. At Christmastime, 11 community members wrote Spirit 92.9 and shared the story of someone they believed deserved some extra joy due to personal hardships. The individuals received $1000 to bless that person during Spirit 92.9’s Share The Joy promotion. Phone calls were made to hundreds of listeners to offer prayer and encouragement. Prayer support and a personal response is offered all year long.

×

2022 Membership Exclusives

January – 2022 Calendar
February – Social Series for Holy Week
March – Virtual Radio Station Field Trip
April – Book
May – Mediabase Webinar
June – Surprise at Momentum
July – Exclusive Momentum Content
August – Virtual Peer Networking Gathering
September – Fall Fun Box
October – Techsurvey Webinar
November – Noisemaker Promotions Vol 2 Book
December – Christmas Surprise 

*subject to change

×

Jim Campbell, Founder & Network President of Radio Training Network, Inc. began his radio career in commercial radio in Tennessee in 1964.  In 1966 he moved his family to Lakeland, Florida to attend college, and upon graduation he joined the staff at First Assembly of God Church where he and the church launched in the mid 1970s the first Contemporary Christian Radio Station in the nation, WCIE-FM. The station grew in both market impression and influence not just in Lakeland, but around the country inspiring others to follow Jim’s lead. In 1989 Jim left the church and founded Radio Training Network, Inc. (RTN) and over the next 30+ years, he oversaw the acquisition and development of 40+ stations plus translators. With 130 team members, RTN stations serve the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Missouri. These stations are well recognized in their respective markets thanks to the servant leadership of the staff, aggressive marketing, and a commitment to a strong emphasis on Jesus first. At present RTN has some two million listeners each week on air and approximately the same number online.

×

Andrea Kleid is a 24-year veteran of radio and records. She began her career working in Christian radio at WNLT in Cincinnati, and then moved onto WAY-FM in West Palm Beach working in programming and promotions. Her next stop took her to JOY-FM in Tampa where she served as the Promotions Director. In 2004, Andrea moved to Nashville to begin her music industry career in radio promotion under Grant Hubbard at Capitol CMG. In 2008, Andrea became the Vice President of Promotion at Word Label Group where she led one of the most successful and influential radio promotion teams in the Christian music industry. Through her signature brand of honesty, passion for Christian music, and focus on relationships, Andrea developed a reputation for successfully launching new artists’ careers including for KING and COUNTRY, NEEDTOBREATHE and Francesca Battistelli. This year, Andrea celebrates her fifth year as the President of her own company, Boxer Poet. An advocate for both radio and artists, Andrea continues to zealously host conversations around further representation for women and people of color on Christian radio.

×

Jason Sharp has a rich history with CCM radio and leadership. His early years at WONU/Chicagoland and The Bridge/Delaware gave flight to his passion for great programming and innovative promotions. As Program Director of WCQR/Johnson City and eventually the network PD for Positive Alternative Radio, Jason’s influence grew across the industry. In 2007, Jason joined the team at Northwestern Media as Program Director and then Station Manager of KTIS, Minneapolis/St Paul. In 2015, Jason furthered his formal education and earned his master’s degree in organizational leadership. Applying his leadership knowledge and skills to work, he now serves as Senior Vice President of Broadcasting at Northwestern Media’s 23 stations in 14 markets across ten states that service 1.5 million listeners each week. Jason also served Christian Music Broadcasters, first as a charter member and eventually as the lead of CMB’s educational track at Momentum for more than ten years. He then served as the organization’s board chairman from 2017-2020. Jason continues to inspire others within Christian media toward excellence and compassion through a Christ-centered attitude, education, and practical application.

×

In 1972, while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Orlando, Johnny Stone dreamt of a second kind of “air force,” that of radio. He took an overnight position at WDIZ-FM, the station where Z88.3 now stands. In the past 50 years of his career, Johnny’s work and personality raised the bar for other programmers in markets ranging from New York City, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Diego, Tampa, Atlanta, Tucson, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. During his stint as Program Director and Morning Show host at Star 99.1 New York, his team won the NAB Crystal Radio Award and CMB Station of the Year. Presently, Johnny serves as afternoon host with his wife, Stacey, at 91.9 WGTS in Washington D.C. winner of the 2021 NAB Marconi Award for Religious Station of the Year. Owner of StoneStudios, LLC. and as a 22-year veteran in Christian media, Johnny mentored several on-air talents. Today, along with his on-air role at WGTS, he mentors college students at CMBU, teaching and modeling the belief that “you have to win in the hallways to win on the airwaves.”

×

Lisa Williams was called to Christian radio while praying in 1990. She walked into KCVO in Camdenton, Missouri and started on the air that same week. Over the past 32 years, Lisa served in various roles in on-air, programming, fundraising, and station management at radio stations and networks including K-LOVE, Z88.3, Star 99.1, KCVO, and KCWN. As an on-air personality, Lisa earned several number one ratings in several markets and was the recipient of three industry awards. Lisa now serves as the Network Talent Coach for Northwestern Media, owner of 23 stations in 14 markets across ten states that service 1.5 million listeners each week. While at Northwestern, Lisa hosted the nationally syndicated show Life with Lisa Williams from 2016-2021. She stepped away from the show to focus on coaching more than 90 on-air talents, encouraging and nurturing them to shine the light of Christ through excellent radio. When she’s not coaching talent, Lisa helps stations raise money for their operations. She also hosts a Facebook group for women on-air in Christian radio called GodsRadioGirls and helps facilitate their annual retreat.

×