Investing in station and listeners

Sean Sawatzky has played an important role in the transformation of the KLRC radio station over the past decade. He is the first full-time employee ever hired by the John Brown University affiliate and is the current general manager.

Sawatzky began listening to Christian music when he attended a Christian high school in his hometown of Weatherford, Okla.

“I discovered it was music that was actually relevant to someone my age,” he said.

He also interned in radio during his high school years, working at a mainstream, top-40 station during the evenings and broadcasting religious music on Sunday mornings.

During his time as a student at the University, Sawatzky quickly plugged into KLRC.

The station has changed much since Sawatzky first began working there. In the nineties, the station was primarily an educational training ground; music was not broadcast all day long and there was no formula for selecting songs. He even remembers running out and picking up his own new tracks to play.

Two days after his graduation in 1996, Sawatzky joined the station as program director and was in charge of selecting and scheduling music. He has remained with the organization ever since.

The station eventually promoted him to general manager. While this position is more administrative, Sawatzky has grown to appreciate it.

Because the staff of KLRC remains small, Sawatzky fills in where necessary. He maintains a relationship with listeners on his daily shift on air from 10:30-3:30p.m., Monday through Friday.

“Radio is very intimate,” Sawatzky said. “People will invite you into their houses in the morning as they are making coffee, before they have talked to anyone else.”

As manager, he also establishes relationships with many of the artists the station broadcasts—which he said is one of the perks of working in the radio industry. Some of his favorite contemporary Christians artists of today include Third Day, MercyMe, Sidewalk Prophets, Rich Mullins, Big Daddy Weave, Needtobreathe and David Crowder Band.

“Most artists do live up to your expectations,” he said. “We just had Britt Nicole, and our interaction was great. She’s the real deal. It’s not about her and her band but about what God is doing in people’s lives.”

While Sawatzky considers attending concerts and meeting musicians as definite advantages of his job, he said the most rewarding aspect is interacting with listeners.

“[Radio] is a good ministry tool,” he explained. “It blows my mind to think that God can use a three-minute song to change a person’s life.”

He has listened to many people’s stories over the years, including those of a woman who decided not to have an abortion after all, an inmate who accepted Christ, a person contemplating suicide. As part of the KLRC staff, he intentionally prays for the station’s audience.

Sawatzky believes music is so powerful because it is able to spark memories and speak to listeners on an individual level. This is true in his own life. A few years ago, soon after his wife’s stepdad passed away, Sawatzky found encouragement in Third Day’s song, “Cry Out to Jesus.”

“The music just had a whole new, fresh meaning,” he said.
Outside of his work at KLRC, Sawatzky spends time with his wife, another University graduate, and the couple’s Maltese. He also enjoys riding motorcycles.