JV: What are the goals of imaging in the Christian format? Is it the same as it is in secular radio — get the brand across, get a slogan out, lots of ear candy?
Chad: Sure. It is to an extent. Like I said, I do imaging with Family Life here, but I also do imaging with Pete Bunch and Spoken Word Images, and we’re doing imaging for Christian radio stations all across the country right now. So you really get a pretty good grasp of what Christian radio is trying to do with that.

To an extent, yeah, there is a lot of “we’ve got to get our name out there, we’ve got to brand our station. We’ve got to get the slogan out there,” whatever that might be. But for us here, a lot of what we try and do as well is not hammer people over the head with religious jargon or Christian-ese, if you will. We don’t want it to sound like we’re preaching to people in between every song. So we are going to run quick little imaging pieces that are just going to say, “The Family Life Network, your Christian companion…”, which is our slogan here, just to get that out there, to get that in people’s heads.

But as well, we’re going to do things that are going to have subtle, spiritual Christian undertones or overtones, if you will. But we’re not going to come out and just slam you over the head. We’re trying to do that in a creative way. We do a lot of radio vignettes and things like that. We do a lot of creative radio production to try and tell a story. At Christmastime, we might do some little bit longer liners to try and get people to think about the real reason for the season.

So you try and find that balance between trying to make yourself out to be hey, this is us, this is us, this is us, and just hammering that into people’s minds; and at the same point you want them to know who we are, why we do what we do, and what is really the reason behind this radio station that they might be listening to.

JV: Where do you go or what do you do when you need some inspiration for your creative work?
Chad: I drink coffee. I get out of the studio. We have a phrase around here we use: “studio head.” You walk out of the studio and you can just see it on somebody’s face. They’re just zoned out. We’ve just got to get out of this place.

I like to take my laptop and work at home a lot, if I can. I like to just go to the coffee shop and sit down and do that. I like to write and read a lot, and I find that that tends to clear my mind. I listen to music all the time. When I’m driving or whatever, my iPod is always on. It’s always playing new music, which helps me in trying to get some fresh ideas.

I listen to a lot of other people’s work, too — find demos on the Internet or whatnot — just to try and stay creative. I’ll hear something and go, okay, what is this person doing? How are they getting that sound or how are they getting their station’s slogan across in a creative way?

So there are a lot of different things that I do to try and crank the creativity up a little, but it normally involves getting away in some sort from the computer and the speakers and just the whole studio and just trying to clear my mind a little bit.

JV: I read in your bio you’re the leader of the Five Seven Band? What’s that?
Chad: Well, I used to be the leader of that band. We played for about three years together. We were a worship band that would go out across New York and Pennsylvania, kind of in the Family Life Network’s listening area, and just hook up with churches and youth groups and teen groups, and play concerts and lead worship and things of that sort. I was the leader of that as far as playing guitar and keyboards and singing. Here in the last year, we’ve kind of disbanded due to the fact that members are getting married and moving across the country. It’s really hard to try and keep that up now, but there for about three years, that was something that I was very heavily involved in, the Five Seven Band.

JV: You mentioned your love of music as a kid. Did you start with some formal education when you were young?
Chad: I did. I started taking piano lessons when I was pretty young. I did that for about eight years, up until around my junior year in high school. I took formal classical piano training, and I kind of got bored with that and decided it was much cooler in high school at that time to play the guitar than the keyboard. So I taught myself how to play the guitar, and kind of threw the piano away for a little bit. But I came back to the piano a few years after picking up the guitar.

So I play a lot of guitar, and I play a lot of piano and keyboards. I love synthesizers. I do a lot of synth stuff. I do a lot of drum programming and computerized electronic-based music. And that, in a way, is also an outlet for me to get my creativity going.

What I really wanted to do when I really got into music was I wanted to either be in a band or I wanted to produce bands in the studio. That always gets frowned upon when you’re in high school and people ask you what you want to do with your life and you tell them, “oh, I want to be in a band or I want to be a producer.” They kind of look at you and say, “So, what are you going to do that’s going to make money?” I got so sick of hearing that that I kind of tuned that dream out for awhile. It wasn’t until my sophomore or junior year when I was in college that I said, you know what, I’m going to go for this. This is something that I love. I can’t deny this, and I’m going to go for it. I don’t want to get to the end of my life one day and look back and think, oh, man, I never went for that dream. What could have happened?

So I really started pursuing that a lot more intensely and really wanted to produce bands. That was really what I kind of wanted to do, but the radio thing sort of fell in my lap and I really grew to love that. And you know, it’s a little easier to get a gig producing radio, especially when your father manages the station, than it is to get out there and try and get into a major studio in LA or in New York and work with bands. But my love for music has always dominated pretty much everything that I do.

JV: When you decided to learn to play the guitar, did you go for lessons or just pick it up on your own?
Chad: I pretty much just picked it up on my own. I grabbed a book, and one of my buddies was also learning how to play the guitar on his own, and we just kind of sat down and drew out some chord charts and figured out how to play some songs and took it from there. I’ve never once had a guitar lesson in my life, and maybe if people heard me play they would understand that. [Laughs]

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  • The R.A.P. Cassette - April 1993

    Concert spots and Imaging from interviewee Nick Sommers at TourDesign, plus work from Tom Richards/KTRS, Jeff Berlin/WXKS, Willie Wells/WKLH, David...