Tell us about your station:
I am blessed to program Atlanta’s full market CCM station with an incredible staff. For starters, we transmit from the tallest man made structure in Georgia covering a lot of turf.
That makes us closer to God than all the other stations! (my engineer CJ’s joke 🙂 The staff is like a radio dream team. Kevin and Taylor, the morning show has been here for 14 years and are the longest continuously running morning show in Atlanta. Kevin being the former PD and Taylor the former Promotions Director make them an ideal morning show combination because of how strategic they think going into each show. Combine that with their natural talent and all those years together, and it’s a home run!
Parks has also been on the station since the beginning and her ability to be real and connect with the mid-day audience is unmatched. Other stations that use her voice and personality around the country agree. Beth Bacall in the afternoon is an industry veteran with tons of experience going back to her major market secular experience as well as working the CCM format in New York City before we called her down to the ATL. She specializes in communicating with our core demo and is known as an industry leader specializing in coaching other women.
Penny came to us as a big fan of the station and started working weekends. She came to us with major market secular experience, was tracking stations and was a talent on Sirius/XM. We were the flagship station for the weekend world-wide show “Keep the Faith” and worked with them to develop a local version called “Keep the Faith – Hyper Drive local” with Penny as the host weekday evenings. The results have been incredible. That show is now heard around the country on numerous stations, both major market (LA, ATL, Portland, etc.) and smaller ones serviced by Salem’s music network. In my opinion you can’t find a more local sounding better produced show that connects in each market than her show.
Traffic in Atlanta is notorious and we have the tops in the business. Chris Monroe is an Atlanta traffic expert. He is the kind of kid who grew up imitating traffic reporters on the radio. He has his own 24/7 twitter feed of ATL traffic. Kim Fitz in afternoons actually makes traffic sound good and she’s my pick for our up and coming star.
Our part time staff is also top notch! For example, Kelly O is a 20 year veteran doing mid days at the Promise in Jacksonville. Curt Zehner has ATL radio experience and is the senior pastor at his Church. He actually married my wife Kim and I 🙂
Chad Davis, our Marketing Director and his entire team are incredible. Our Facebook page alone has over 264,000 likes and our engagement levels rival or surpass national networks with many more “likes” than we have as a solo station. More on Chad below.
Our GM, Mike Moran is a huge blessing. He is a Salem Regional VP so he oversees other markets as well. He has amazing insights and always goes to bat for us to get us the tools we need to win.
I came to the Fish Atlanta 8 years ago with 37 year’s experience in the industry, 27 of which were programming. This is the first station I’ve programmed where I don’t have a daily on air shift. But I am the station’s imaging voice so I’m actually on the air 24/7 :). We’ve enjoyed major success over the years. This past year, we’ve averaged 5th 6+ in the market, 7th Women 25-54 (as high as 3rd). In all of 2014 we ranked 4th. We were the first top ten market CCM station to ever hit number one 6+ (holiday book-2014). To say we’ve been blessed is a vast under statement! – Mike Blakemore, PD
Your station’s most successful promotion:
We have numerous promotional success stories, much to the credit of Chad Davis our Marketing Director, Rebecca Hollis and the entire team. But one promotion stands out.
The winner is “Fish Christmas Wish” and Christmas promotions as a whole. We took the best parts of Christmas Wish that I was a part of back in my Saga days, with the best parts from KLTY Dallas’s efforts (their former marketing director David Sparkman is now in sales here) and what we were already doing in Atlanta into one BIG success. Chad, Rebecca and our marketing team are incredible and are critical to its success each and every year.
Our morning show broadcasts live every weekday after thanksgiving to just before Christmas from different Chic-Fil-A locations. There, listeners can read wishes, grant them and donate to our Christmas Wish non-profit fund. We hear numerous stories of lives being changed and wishes coming true.
On the air, we use funds raised along with some of our key clients to grant wishes that play like songs throughout the season. We’ve even made videos of wishes that have gone viral as a result.
We also have the Fish “Holly Jolly Line” where listeners can call in and leave messages that air between songs and we have the “Fish Christmas Zone” network of offices that play the Fish’s Christmas music at their business with the promise of a free on air mention.
My goal is for the Fish to continue the spirit of Christmas Wish all year long with Acts of Kindness and more.
Resources your station uses:
Our consultant is John Frost. He’s been my partner in CCM for 7 years at Fish Atlanta and also when I was at my first CCM in Knoxville. His ability to give us the 35,000 view of our market is unmatched. He also has been a huge visionary and coach for all of us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without him. I have been using Troy Radio Research. Jonathan Little is actually my first real Program Director when I worked Top 40 back in college in Madison Wisconsin. All these years later, he’s helping me make my station better! I also use Mediabase as a tool to monitor what’s happening in the industry.
One bit of wisdom to share with others:
An old GM of mine Dale Weber back in Champaign, Illinois always told me that he used the Wizard of OZ theory of hiring people.
“Always hire people with a big heart, brains and courage”. If they have those three qualities, everything else can be taught or achieved with dedication and hard work.
That theory produced a great staff at an our Hot AC station in the 80’s and its members are scattered success stories throughout the industry today. It rings true in 2016 at the Fish Atlanta.
Share an impactful listener story:
I was getting my car washed down the street one day and when I was vacuuming it out, a worker came up to me and complemented me on my Fish window sticker. He told me THAT station changed his life! He said he was in trouble with drugs, his life wasn’t where he wanted it to be and he listened to all kinds of music with bad messages. It was Christmas time so he tuned around looking for Christmas music and found the Fish.
He said after Christmas, he kept it on the Fish and his life started to change. His iPod started filling with Fish music, he stopped doing drugs, his marriage improved he started training dogs to help disabled people. He was witnessing to me about my own station without knowing who I was!
I told him that meant a lot to me, because I actually work at the Fish. I’m the station Program Director in charge of music, the DJ’s, everything except the commercials. He turned away from me, and started crying. We embraced and started a friendship. Since then he’s come to Christmas Wish remotes with his dog to give back. Lives being changed… that’s what it’s all about! To me, programming CCM is radio on steroids from God.
How has your station been impacted through CMB Memberships?
You can’t put a dollar sign on it. It has been invaluable. It has given us the opportunity to learn and share with some of the best in our industry and other industries we’re exposed to through great events like Momentum.