Christian Music Broadcasters’ Pioneers: Lloyd Parker

Welcome to a series of stories about the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music Radio. You can read some the previous stories here. Some of these pioneers started radio stations with just a few dollars to their name. Many had very little radio experience. But each had vision, a calling, and a deep passion for using Contemporary Christian Music and radio to impact their community. There was a time they were considered the rebels in the stodgy Christian industry of the time. Today, they are considered the pioneers.

Lloyd Parker – Respected Leader, Infrastructure Builder, Administrator, Un-flappable

Lloyd (Parker) Erdvig played an important role in the sustainability, long-term growth, and maturity of CMB (Christian Music Broadcasters). He also helped grow and mature two of CCM Radio’s biggest media groups, leading them from “mom and pop” stations into industry leaders. His gift for organizational structure, delegation, and administration cannot be overstated. You also can’t share Lloyd’s story without mentioning his wife, Ellen. She has been his partner and co-laborer for every step of his career.

Born in New York City, Lloyd Parker’s parents settled in Huntington, on Long Island. They brought him to church at 2 weeks of age and raised him in a Christian home. He was always very involved in the church, participating in youth group, Royal Rangers, VBS, Christmas plays, and more. At the age of 15, driving home from church one Sunday, his father and brother reminded him that even though he had always been in church, he still needed to ask the Lord into his heart – it didn’t happen by osmosis. Right there, in the back seat of a ‘64 Rambler, Lloyd realized that he wanted a deeper relationship with God and committed his life to God.

With the intent of being a Science Professor or Biologist after graduation, Lloyd attended Evangel College (now University) in Springfield, MO. But in January of 1972, he was wandering around the campus and stumbled upon KECC, the college radio station. On that day, Program Director Dan Way offered him a Sunday afternoon shift and although he was a little hesitant, he agreed to give it a shot. Dan’s final question to him on that first day was, “Oh, and what is your middle name?” When Lloyd said, “Parker.” Dan replied, “OK. No more Erdvig. You’re now Lloyd Parker.”

Lloyd at KECC Radio (Evangel College) 1974

The radio bug bit! Within months he changed his major to Communications and about 18 months later he became the KECC Station Manager. In August ‘74, he applied and accepted the Program Director job at a new gospel station going on the air in Springfield, KLFJ. This was not a CCM station. Because of that, a few months later, on Thanksgiving weekend, the station manager called him into his office and said, “I’m sorry, but you’re fired.” (The first and last time he ever heard those words in his radio career!) The manager explained that although he liked the job that Lloyd was doing, the other owners outvoted him and wanted him gone. There was too much Andrae Crouch, Barry McGuire, LoveSong and The Archers on the air. They wanted more Florida Boys and Happy Goodmans. In short, Lloyd was programming the station too contemporary for them.

Lloyd at KLFC (Springfield) 1974

In August of ’75, Lloyd randomly picked up a copy of Billboard magazine and on the front page was a story of a new gospel station opening up on Long Island. A week later, he drove back home and applied for a news position at WNYG. He got the job, but within two weeks, it was clear that the new Morning Show host would be a better newsman, and he would likely be the better DJ. He soon became PD and moved to PM Drive.  A couple of years later, while attending the NRB Convention in 1977, he met a radio salesman from the station WWDJ in New Jersey, named Joe Battaglia. The two hit it off right away and eventually became lifelong friends.

Lloyd and Joe B 2009

WLIX Long Island and Joe Battaglia

In December of 1978, Joe B let Lloyd know that he had just bought into a station on Long Island, WLIX. He and the other owner, Dave Swanson, needed some help to get this station on a firm foundation and he asked if Lloyd would be interested in becoming the Program Director. In March of 1979, he moved over to WLIX. That summer, he also attended his first National Gospel Radio Seminar (NGRS) being held concurrently with the Christian Booksellers Convention in St Louis.

WLIX (Long Island) 1981

 

WLIX Playlist October 1980

At WLIX,  Lloyd was PM Drive host and also focused on growing revenue, building the team, and getting visibility for the station. There was very little real record promotion in the early days. Most DJs would just play whatever music they could get our hands on. Dan Hickling at WORD Records would visit WLIX frequently and supply them with all their latest releases.

Lloyd and his longtime friend and fellow New York DJ, Frank Reed 1983

After marrying in November of 1979, Ellen joined Lloyd for the trip to Dallas in the summer of 1980 for NGRS. The event was at The Dunfey Hotel in the middle of a triple digit heat wave and on the final day, the A/C broke down. Kent Burkhart was considered one of the fathers of Top 40 in mainstream radio and his son Brad was working in promotions for A&M Records in the Southwest and attended the conference. Lloyd met Brad near the hotel pool and picked his brain about programming, music rotations, hot clocks, spot breaks, charts, ratings and so much more. They talked until 3am! WLIX ended up being the first CCM station client for Brad’s new consulting company.

In the early 80’s, NGRS Steering Committee Chairman Jim Black invited Lloyd to join the committee and be Programming Track Chairman.

NGRS (National Gospel Radio Seminar) Dallas – 1980 Jim Black standing. Lloyd second from left.

When Jim left in 1986, Joe B became Chairman and he asked Lloyd to become Vice-Chairman. Keith Whipple became Agenda Chairman. The three held those positions for about 12 years. In the mid 80’s, Ellen was hired as Secretary, the first paid position at NGRS. Around 1987, and after lots of discussion, The Steering Committee changed the name to National Christian Radio Seminar (NCRS) to better reflect the dominant CCM format. A few years later, the three decided the only way to get new blood in the leadership was for all to resign their leadership positions and it worked.

Lloyd and (wife) Ellen with NCRS Steering Committee 1984

In 1981 and 1982, NGRS was connected to the Music in The Rockies event held at the YMCA in the Rockies in Estes Park, CO. Everyone stayed at the Holiday Inn in town, met all day in the hotel and attended the concerts at the YMCA at night. There were many great memories with artists like Wayne Watson, Twila Paris, and Michael Card. Gary Chapman always seemed to be in the hotel lobby playing video games and just rockin’ it. One afternoon, WORD Records presented the first ever softball game between the radio guys vs the artists and label staff. It included Kathy Troccoli, Isaac Air Freight, Allen Weed, Dan Johnson, and others.

NCRS Steering Committee 1990

Joe B and Lloyd promoted loads of concerts together during those years. For example, an artist would fly in, do NJ on a Friday and then Long Island on the Saturday, or vice versa. In 1982, Joe booked a concert with headliner GLAD.

With Glad 1982

That concert also featured David Meece and a new artist named Carman. After the NJ show was over, there was a fan who arrived late and had missed Carman’s opening set. He had really wanted to see Carman. Lloyd brought him up to Carman at the record table after the show, where he explained that he had been witnessing to some friends and that caused him to be late. Carman then took him into the empty auditorium and had him sit down while he played his entire opening set just for this one kid. Then he took him back to the record table, grabbed an album, autographed it and handed it to the guy. It showed a great side of Carman’s character.

Along with Pastor Ted Bichsel, Lloyd started the WLIX / Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle Family Concert Series soon after, which ran for over 10 years. Scott Wesley Brown was the first concert in 1984 and over the years there were concerts with Steve Camp, Dion, Steven Curtis Chapman, Twila Paris, Chris Christian, Terry Talbot, Phil Keaggy, Kim Hill, Benny Hester, and many others.

Terry Talbot with Lloyd and (wife) Ellen
With Andrae Crouch 1976

 

With DeGarmo and Key 1992

 

Lloyd, Phil Keaggy, and Pastor Ted 1988

 

With Dion 1985

 

Although the Dion concert was especially packed, the largest crowd wasn’t for a traditional CCM artist though. It was for Psalty – The Singing Songbook. Kids used to love the music of Psalty and his stories (on VHS tape). Psalty was a character created by early Christian artist Ernie Rettino. The night of the show, the families just kept on coming…Dads, Moms and kids filled the church to overflowing. When Ernie did the altar call, the front of the church was packed and not just with kids. Many adults committed their lives to Christ that night. By far, it was the greatest crowd and salvation response of any of the concerts.

In 1988, they acquired WLVX in Hartford, CT and programmed it similarly to WLIX. Lloyd eventually became VP/General Manager and part owner. Over the years, great talents like Jerry Williams, Dave Koch, Ed Lenane, Al Kim, Brian Fisher, and others worked at one or both of the stations. WLVX was sold in 1992 and WLIX in 1995.

 

Jerry Williams, Steve Curtis Chapman, and Lloyd 1988

 

K-LOVE

At a Michael W. Smith reception at NCRS in April of 1995, K-LOVE President Dick Jenkins walked up to Lloyd and said that he was looking for a General Manager for K-LOVE. After prayer and consideration, that following March, Lloyd made the move. There were about 20 staff members and about 25 signals at the time, but the next ten years saw tremendous growth! When he left in 2005, there were over 200 staff and 250 signals.

In the early 2000’s, K-LOVE needed more space and moved to the Rocklin, CA facility.  Eventually, they added 25 field offices around the country and some of the incredible staff members over the years included; Eric Allen, Art Garza, Daniel White, Virginia Walker, Jim Swaney, Dave Kelly, Dan Beck, Paul Goldsmith, Ken Mayfield, Dave Atkinson, Frank Hammond, Frank Kavenik, Brian Gantman, Bryan O’Neal, Jon Rivers and, of course, David Pierce and Sam Wallington.

 

Lloyd and fellow former K-LOVE Team members Art Garza, Eric Allen, and Paul Goldsmith 2015

 

Other fond K-LOVE memories for Lloyd include promoting the very first Spirit West Coast festival in Monterey, CA, launching Christian Music Planet Magazine (with the help of Editor Carol Crenshaw and Graphics Designer Norm McDonald), and launching the K-LOVE Friends and Family Cruise with Roy Morgan, President of Premier Productions. Lloyd and Roy had so much overlapping history that even includes Roy listening to Lloyd as a teenager on KLFJ in Springfield. Roy even once won a “Truth” album during a station giveaway. On the day that he picked up the album/prize at the station, he and his sister got into a fender bender…on that same day Lloyd was fired! (Not a great day for either!) The first-ever concert on a K-LOVE cruise featured Mark Schultz. Poor Mark, he was singing and playing the piano while watching the water bottles falling over on the floor and rolling around and he was trying not to be sick. He made it through, but it was rough. Almost twenty years and thousands of fans and hundreds of artists later, the K-LOVE Cruise is still sailing!

The listener response to the ministry of K-LOVE was amazing and almost overwhelming. Thousands of emails, phone calls and letters would arrive each month. These would be handled, at first, by phone operators. Eventually staff was hired to respond to written listener communication. Lloyd was so pleased when he was able to hire the first K-LOVE Radio Pastor, Jim Swaney, who created the ministry department. Later, they brought on veteran pastor Mike Henderson to lead and continue to meet these expanding needs. Ellen joined this team and would answer thousands of emails each month.

WayFM

In 2005, Lloyd joined Bob Augsburg and the team at WAY-FM as Chief Operating Officer. WAY was growing at the time and that meant assimilating facilities and more staff. Working with Matt Hahn, Faron Dice, Matt Austin, Zach Cochran, Jim Marshall, Steve Young, Thom Ewing, BJ O’Neal, Paul Anthony, Brant Hansen, Wally, Jerry Grimes, Tom Sullivan, Steve Shore and many others. Just like at K-LOVE, Lloyd helped move WayFM from  a mom and pop to a national media ministry. Way grew significantly in audience size and revenue, featured a number of national concert tours with ministry partners, and also participated with Premier Productions on a few cruises, too. (According to Lloyd, there is nothing like seeing Paul Anthony and Zach Cochran singing karaoke on a cruise, and Bob Augsburg singing Elvis songs.)

 

WayFM launched their Dallas station with bus boards across the city

 

He loved serving with Bob Augsburg at Way-FM, but the two don’t necessarily have the same love and affection for dogs. Lloyd’s favorite story to share is during a meeting, where he suddenly felt a touch on his leg. Startled and looking down, he saw Bob’s dog Harley. Later that day, while working, Harley came into Lloyd’s office. He stopped about 4 feet in front of his desk and proceeded to vomit on the carpet.  And, when Lloyd showed Bob the football-sized blob on the floor, Bob was shocked and said, “Did Harley do that?” to which he replied, “Well I didn’t!”   Bob was happy to clean it up, but while still kneeling on the floor and wiping things up, another staff member came into the office and to share that Harley had just had diarrhea all over the Media office floor, too. Needless to say, the entire office staff had to relocate to keep working that day and poor Bob was busy for the next few hours.

 

WayFM Leadership 2016

Final thoughts from Lloyd…

(and a special video message of Lloyd’s most embarrassing career moment…)

NGRS, NCRS, & CMB each served to provide the Christian Music Radio industry with great events and resources to further the education and professionalism of the broadcasters in different ways and at different points in time. As good as the various educational sessions would be, I always felt the best part of these events was networking with my colleagues from around the country. Sharing ideas and seeking solutions to problems was always so valuable. Getting to spend quality time with artists and label representatives was also a big benefit. Labels reps like Grant Hubbard, Dan Michaels, John Taylor, Chris Hauser, Jim Houser, Jenny Lockwald, Kenny Rogers, Jeff Cruz, Jenn Allen, and many others over the years became friends and ministry partners. Hearing new music that was coming out would help with planning programming, concerts and promotions. It is so rewarding to see the continued growth and development of CMB, now CMB+, under the direction of Michelle Younkman and her amazing team. Being on the CMB Board of Directors in the early days, we could only dream CMB would become the organization it is today.

I remember a lunch break at CMB about ten years ago. Ellen and I had just gone through the buffet line and were sitting at our table when I felt a tap on the shoulder. Ellen sat down, then putting my food down, I turned to see a colleague with whom I hadn’t connected in a number of years. He asked for a few moments and then began to apologize for things he had done to me over a number of years. He asked me to forgive him, that he was wrong about some things. It was very heartfelt and genuine. I had never expected to hear those words, but accepted his apology and it was something I’ll never forget. A lot happens at CMB events that’s not on any agenda.

I learned a few lessons early on that were good reminders for me over the years. Early on in NY, a listener came up to me at an event and thanked me profusely for helping to save her marriage. She went on about how what I said on the air was just what she needed to hear and she took those comments as from the Lord and things turned around for her and her husband. The thing was I had no idea what I said and no memory of even mentioning marriage or divorce. But God somehow used my words that day to minister. You may never know all the lives you have touched and how the Lord uses your words to minister to people. What you do and say on the air or in your content today is more powerful than you may realize.

Similarly, never underestimate how the Lord can use a song to minister to a listener. I had booked a concert with an artist not really known for the spiritual depth of their music. It was good music and we played it a lot, but the lyrics didn’t usually deal with major issues. After the concert a listener came up to me and thanked me for bringing this particular artist and how their music had just touched them and that she felt closer to the Lord listening to it. I was grateful for this good reminder of how God uses the music we play for His purposes.

On a practical note, I wish I had been involved in less meetings. Although at times they are absolutely necessary, most meetings waste a lot of time and don’t usually accomplish much. I would now try to be more diligent about having a specific agenda and sticking to it, with less rabbit trails and making sure everyone was ready to go at the start time, keeping the meeting time short. Interestingly, I recently read that, unless paid to attend, Mark Cuban does not go to meetings at all.

Resigning a few years ago from WAY-FM and then starting some consulting work, COVID-19 hit and, well, plans change. On the GMA Board of Directors until 2021, I remained at my position as Co-Chairman of the GMA Radio Committee until last January.

Lloyd and Ellen at GMA Board Dinner 2017 with Pat and Debbie Boone

It was 50 years since walking into KECC at Evangel. I have been very blessed to be a part of a number of amazing ministries and am very grateful to all my supervisors for the opportunities given me. Living just off I-75 in Central Georgia has allowed me one way to connect with some friends and colleagues as they’ve driven down the interstate on their way to and from Florida.

I am thoroughly enjoying this season of life. When my daughter Taryn and her family had a house built in Kathleen, GA, Ellen and I had one built next door. We see them every day and the grandkids come over nearly every night in their pajamas around 8:30 to kiss us goodnight. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that! Recently, while Ellen and I were driving with the three of the grandkids, my 5 year old grandson Parker asked from the backseat, “Grandpa, what do you do for work? Do you work?” Before I could answer, my 8 year old granddaughter Maddie said, “Grandpa works, he cuts our lawn each week!”

Lloyd and Ellen with some of the Grandkids (Daughter Taryn and Husband Nate’s 3 children)

 

All 6 of the grandkids (Son Rory and wife Nicole’s 3 kids, and daughter Taryn and Husband Nate’s 3 kids) at Lake Tahoe

Who is a CCM Radio Pioneer that should be featured in a future article? Reach out to me at fdice@onechild.org.

Faron Dice has been in Christian Music Radio for almost 40 years. He is the former Chief Content Officer for WayFM, and currently loves working with radio stations and artists as National Director of Radio and Artist Engagement for OneChild.

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