Educational Media Foundation has been one of radio’s most aggressive companies over the past few years. Getting the word of God into every market in the country is its goal.
In the last year, Cumulus Media helped EMF inch closer to that goal, thanks to the sale of stations in New York City and Atlanta. The K-LOVE and Air1 networks have grown from one station in Santa Rosa, California, back in 1981, to more than 900 signals in all 50 states with an estimated 14 million listeners each week today.
A lot of the work over the past year was done while they were searching for a new CEO. Mike Novak, who had been CEO since 2007, announced his retirement from the position in June of 2018. New CEO Bill Reeves was hired in July of 2019 and he’s on the cover of the issue of Radio Ink Magazine thundering across America and into your mailboxes this week.
Radio Ink: When a new leader comes, there’s always fear of change, and it can be a little unstable not knowing what will happen. What did you say to everyone?
Reeves: For me it was almost a year-long process, and for them, even a little longer. On July 17, when we officially all met for the first time, I think the word was relief. We were relieved the process was over. Another word might be gratitude. We were grateful to God for bringing us together. There had been a lot of prayer around it. We all prayed about the decision. The room was almost euphoric on both sides, theirs and mine. My message to them was “relax.” There are so many management books written about “Go in there and say there’s a new sheriff in town, fire some people, etc.” That’s not who I am. This company is a tremendous radio network with over 900 frequencies around the country. That didn’t happen accidentally. It happened because there are great people there. There is a great management team.
I told everyone through the organization to relax and let me get to know you over the next 60 to 90 days. If there are some places where there is misalignment, we’ll make those adjustments. Right now let’s all move forward as is, because it is a healthy organization the way it is.
Radio Ink: Do you expect to add more markets, buy more stations?
Reeves: We do broadcast in all 50 states. The one market I think we’ll want a stronger presence in is Boston, but in all the other markets we have put ourselves in the places most important to us. We will continue to look at the right opportunities as they come up. If a signal becomes available that allows us to grow within a market we already occupy, we’ll continue to look at that.
Radio Ink: It’s impossible to watch politics these days without shaking your head or being disgusted by it, and horrified by the mass shootings. What are your thoughts on these events, and do you see more people turning to formats like yours to get away from it?
Reeves: It’s at the heart of why I took the job, why I believe K-LOVE and Air1 are so important. If you spend any time around our network, you will hear the terms used — we are positive and encouraging. There is a spiritual element to that as a Christian radio network, but we’re really trying to give people hope.
You will not see political programming on our airwaves. You will not see us trying to take sides on certain things. We will bring encouragement into people’s lives.
There’s an element of culture that wants to diminish God in our lives, and we’re trying to help you see God is not some cosmic killjoy who is wanting for us to mess up. He loves us. He wants us to experience the positive life. There’s a scripture that says Jesus came so we could have life and have it abundantly. That’s what we’re trying to communicate. We want people to find some light on their radio dial, or electronic device, when they’re scrolling through the options. We want to give people a shining light in this world and tell them all is not lost, there is still hope for you. That’s what we are trying to accomplish.
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